VICKSBURG, Miss. (Vicksburg Daily News) – On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously voted in favor of consumers’ right to repair their own devices, appliances, and automobiles.
The policy adopted with the vote is aimed at manufacturers’ practices that make it difficult for customers to repair their products or shop around for other service providers to do it for them.
“While we typically view improper repair restrictions through its effects on fair competition, consumers, and small businesses, the Right to Repair movement also showed us how these problems can be matters of life and death,” Commissioner Rohit Chopra said. “During the FTC’s review of this issue, we heard about hospitals worried that they would be unable to fix a ventilator because a manufacturer was seeking to deny access to repair it. Outages caused by repair restrictions like these can make the difference in times of emergencies.”
In May, the FTC released a report to Congress raising the issue of manufacturers using a variety of methods to make consumer products harder to fix and maintain, such as using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limiting the availability of parts and tools, or making diagnostic software unavailable.
“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said during an open Commission meeting. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”
The Commission said it would target repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The Commission also urged the public to submit complaints of violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which prohibits, among other things, tying a consumer’s product warranty to the use of a specific service provider or product, unless the FTC has issued a waiver.
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