Easy repairs at a reasonable price, even after warranty. The EP adopted new regulations

Luc Williams

So far, the possibility of repairing devices was not so obvious, because some devices were designed in such a way that their parts simply could not be replaced (e.g. smartphones with built-in batteries), the manufacturer did not offer spare parts or they were so expensive that repair turned out to be unprofitable. It was cheaper to buy a new product, which consumers were encouraged to do by producers. Now that's about to change.

The right to repair will also apply after the warranty expires

The European Parliament voted on Tuesday at the plenary session in Strasbourg with an overwhelming majority (584 votes for, 3 against) the long-discussed right to recovery in the EU. The new regulations are intended to encourage users not to throw broken devices into the garbage, but to repair them, and to oblige manufacturers to enable this process. “Our economic model is based on rapid consumption. We have educated our consumers to throw away broken appliances and buy new ones. We are thus burdening the environment and wasting very important raw materials, including critical raw materials,” warned German Social Democrat Rene Repasi during the debate preceding the vote in the European Parliament. , the EP's rapporteur on the topic.

The regulations – at least initially – will apply to a specific category of home appliances, including dishwashers, washing machines, smartphones and electronic displays, although EU lawmakers have already announced today that this list will be expanded.

Under the new directive, manufacturers must offer fast and cost-effective repair services and inform customers that they have the right to request this service. Goods that are repaired while still under warranty will receive an additional year of protection, which is intended to encourage consumers to choose repair instead of replacing the product.

But the right to repair will also apply after the warranty expires – then the manufacturer will be obliged to repair the product at a reasonable price and within a reasonable time. For the duration of the repair, the consumer will have the right to rent a replacement device, but if it turns out that the equipment cannot be repaired, he will be able to choose a refurbished product and will not be forced to purchase a new one.

Manufacturers will also have to provide customers with access to cheap spare parts and repair tools. They will also be prohibited from using contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that make repairs more difficult. Today, it often happens that if a given product is repaired in a place other than the manufacturer's authorized service center, or if parts other than authorized ones, second-hand or 3D printed elements are used for the repair, the manufacturer does not want to honor this type of repair or shortens the repair. warranty period covering the equipment. Now that won't be possible. The manufacturer will also not be able to refuse a repair just because it seems too expensive or because the product was previously repaired by someone else.

A platform will be launched in the EU where consumers will be able to obtain information about repairs, including comparing repair prices depending on the type of defect or repair duration, as well as using a database of repair plants enabling the search for local repair points located nearby. On the platform, you will also be able to search for plants where you can buy refurbished products at lower prices and search for companies that purchase defective equipment. Information about local repair initiatives will also be available there. This includes, for example, grassroots workshops organized by residents, where you can learn how to repair equipment yourself or exchange experiences with professionals.

The new regulations are intended to reduce the amount of electronic waste in the environment

The new regulations oblige Member States to introduce incentives for repairs, e.g. in the form of repair vouchers or repair funds, and to conduct campaigns promoting the repair of products. This is intended to help reduce repair prices.

The new regulations are intended to encourage consumers to make repairs and reduce the amount of electronic waste in the environment. “The goal is to enable consumers to make sustainable choices when it comes to repairing the goods they have purchased. This will also allow us to save over EUR 170 billion in the coming years, because it will be easier to repair goods instead of buying new ones,” said the commissioner, who was present during the debate in the European Parliament. EU Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The regulations will also help combat the phenomenon of deliberate obsolescence of products by manufacturers, i.e. designing them in such a way that their service life is limited in advance. So far, the average lifespan of an electric toothbrush was one year and that of a refrigerator was 10 years, after which the devices usually broke down and new ones had to be purchased. According to EU lawmakers, the new directive will make such practices unprofitable for manufacturers, because they will be obliged to repair broken equipment anyway.

The result of the vote was welcomed by consumer organizations. As Monique Goyens, head of the EU consumer organization BEUC, told PAP, the new regulations “will put pressure on manufacturers to produce high-quality and repairable products.”

“This means closing the chapter on irreparable products that break down too quickly,” Goyens told PAP. She added that consumers will still be able to choose to buy new equipment and will not be forced to make repairs, but they will be encouraged to do so.

“When they decide to repair, they will be protected by a one-year additional warranty. This will be a strong incentive for them to repair their broken products and use them longer. It is only fair that products that last longer are covered by a longer warranty,” added the BEUC boss.

For the regulations to officially enter into force, they must be approved by the Council. Member States will have 24 months to transpose the provisions into their national law.


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