Why should I care?
Technology products are among our most expensive home products, and their prices continue to rise. Not long ago, the price of a high-end smartphone was $650. Today, new Apple and Samsung phones start at between $700 and $800.
The average household would save $330 a year if they repaired products instead of replacing them, a figure that adds up to $40 billion nationally, according to a study by the Interest Group. United States Public.
By extending the life of your devices, you’ll also use more of the energy, metals, plastics, and human labor invested in making your products.
Why don’t more people fix their technology?
There are a number of barriers to consumer electronics repair that can make it intimidating.
Basic repairs, such as replacing a broken screen or depleted battery, are not straightforward. Modern devices are so thin and glued together that special tools are often needed to pry them apart. Buying genuine parts isn’t easy either – you can’t go to an Apple or Samsung website to order a screen or battery replacement, for example.
Repairing basic components is also becoming increasingly impractical for unauthorized repair shops, especially with Apple phones. Many of the key components inside newer iPhones, including the camera, battery and screen, require proprietary software tools to get the job done, independent repairers say.
Going to Apple and Microsoft retail stores and authorized repair shops is a simple option, but the costs there can be so high that you might be persuaded to just buy a new device. When I brought my wife’s iPhone to the Apple Store this year, I was quoted $280 to replace a broken touch screen, about 40% of the price of a brand new iPhone. Instead, I turned to a different path.
Why won’t unauthorized repairmen be authorized?
Independent repairers get access to repair tools, parts and instructions when they sign up to partner with technology companies to become authorized service centers. But Kyle Wiens, chief executive officer of iFixit, which publishes free manuals for people to restore their devices, says many independent fixers have been turned off by contract terms to Authorised.
A requirement to become an Apple authorized repair center involves collecting detailed service records, including customer name, product serial number, and mailing address. This information must be provided to Apple in a test case to verify that repairs are being performed properly. Even if the repair provider terminates its agreement with Apple, it must agree to continue sharing this information with the company for two years.
There is also the issue of price. Shakeel Taiyab, an independent repairman in South San Francisco, says he charges customers lower prices because he gets authentic parts from channels like electronics refurbishers who extract Export working components from faulty devices. (He charged me $180 to fix my wife’s iPhone screen, $100 off the Apple store.)
Mr. Taiyab said that if he became an authorized supplier, he would follow the rules, which could lead to price increases for his customers – something he said he did not want to do.