Antitrust

07/30/2021

Right-to-repair is getting closer in the US, but critics say it will harm consumers

Carl Szabo
Carl Szabo Vice President and General Counsel

Carl Szabo, vice-president and general counsel of NetChoice, an industry group whose founders include Google, Facebook, and Amazon, agreed with Wiens in an interview that there isn’t any country that has properly figured out right-to-repair.

“I think the reason you haven’t seen other countries calling for it is it’s not a big deal for them and/or they recognize the potential consumer harm,” he said.

Szabo, who used to work for former Republican-led FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle, explained that while the right-to-repair initiative and potential legislation that would extend to other devices is important, lawmakers need to understand the harm that consumers could do to themselves if they try to fix their phones or have an unauthorized dealer do so.

“Let’s say my dad’s Samsung phone screen breaks and I go to the mall and I pay someone to fix the screen. A couple of weeks later the phone starts to glitch out. Do you blame the repair store? You could say that you’ll never buy a Samsung device and it could have been no fault of Samsung’s and could have been the repair store.

“(But) if it turns out it’s a failure of the manufacturer, the manufacturer is going to have a pretty good defense by saying you can’t prove it was my fault because they went to someone else and did this,” he said.

He noted that mandated access to the supply chain is not the same discussion and that if a right-to-repair legislation is put forth then the discussion around the failure to repair something needs to be included.

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