‘Fair Repair Act’ passes through House Committee in Olympia

The bill would require consumer electronics companies to share the instructions and tools to fix their products with the public.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Fair Repair Act (HB 1392) passed through a House Committee in Olympia Wednesday, with a seven to six vote. The act would require consumer electronics companies to share the instructions and tools to fix their products with the public.

Dax Tate with the Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) Foundation hopes state lawmakers will pass this bill.

“Right to repair is policies that require manufacturers to provide consumers and independent repair shops with the parts, tools and information that they need to fix the devices that they own,” said Tate.

Experts in the field, like iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, said about 20 other states have introduced similar legislation this year.

“If we can fix our own stuff, we are not captive to the manufacturers that sent us the thing,” said Wiens. “We have more control over our destiny.”

He said in recent years companies have been making improvements with repair accessibility but said last year the iFixit website had four million visits from people in Washington looking to make their own repairs.

“There’s a huge need and they’re coming to iFixit because the manufacturers are letting them down,” said Wiens.

He hopes this bill will allow consumers to have more options on where they can get their electronics fixed, and in turn, use them longer.

“We need to make it so the products are fixable and then repairable in our communities by our local repair shops,” said Wiens.

He said this law would help prevent electronic waste and would lead to people being able to get their phones and laptops fixed in more accessible and affordable ways.

“I’m looking forward to a world where electronics are a sustainable part of our lives and not just another way of contributing to a disposable, throwaway society,” said Wiens.

Next, the bill is headed to the house appropriations committee before it can be eligible for a floor vote.

Today the WashPIRG Foundation released a Repair Scorecard ranking different cell phone and laptop manufacturers on how easy and affordable their products are to repair. They also take into account if the companies are lobbying for or against Right to Repair laws.

“People need information on how repairable their devices are,” said Dax Tate, with the WashPIRG Foundation. “They need to know that they’re going to be able to fix their device at the point of purchase so they can make that informed decision.”

On the Repair Scorecard, Dell laptops and Motorola cellphones were rated the highest, while Apple was rated lowest in both the cellphone and laptop categories.

We reached out to Apple who told KING 5 that they launched a program in 2019 called the Independent Repair Provider program, which they said many thousands of independent repair shops have already taken advantage of. They said it provides Genuine Apple Parts, tools and repair manuals to independent repair shops. They added that last year, they launched Self Service Repair, which makes their parts, tools and instructions available to anyone.

Microsoft responded to KING 5 when asked for comment on their grade of D+ and the current Washington legislation. A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement: “Microsoft is committed to expanding safe, reliable, and sustainable options for device repair and we have made large strides that demonstrate this commitment. We thank the bill sponsor for her work and believe we can comply with this bill if enacted.”

Dell Technologies responded to KING 5 when asked for comment on their grade of B+ and sent a statement that said, in part: “Dell Technologies has a long-standing track record of intentionally designing our products to be easier to repair and recycle. We support consumers’ choice to repair their device or seek out a convenient local repair option that works for them. To ensure security, we recommend Dell-authorized repair options that have safety, quality, data security and privacy built in.” The statement went on to say: “We provide customers with access to resources and options to find out more about how to repair their devices safely, including: Manuals and downloads are accessible online (SW, drivers, BIOS, firmware, OS, security patches). We publish our parts lists online and enable customers to order those parts to conduct repairs, themselves.”

KING 5 also reached out to every other company mentioned in the Repair Scorecard. 

Watch: KING 5’s State Politics playlist

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