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Nintendo, Apple, And Sony Have Been Ordered To Let You Fix Your Stuff

Nintendo, Apple, And Sony Have Been Ordered To Let You Fix Your Stuff
From Uproxx - April 11, 2018

Nintendo has them. iPhones have them, and they have special screws to thwart it to boot. In fact, probably every device you own has a sticker on it claiming that once the sticker is broken, any warranty you have on your device is null and void. If youve ever wondered why thats legal, the Federal Trade Commission has an answer: It isnt, and its going after companies that try to keep you from fixing your stuff.

At the center of this is the right to repair. You probably dont realize this when you buy something, but legally speaking, in many senses you do not actually own the stuff you buy in the sense that you have total control of it. The iPhone is a great example; in order to get your iPhone fixed, and keep your warranty, you have to go through Apple, either by sending your phone away or going to an Apple Stores Genius Bar. Think about this compared to other expensive stuff you own, like your car. Imagine having to return to the dealership whenever you needed an oil change or to fix the cupholder. Thats more or less what Apple, Nintendo, and a host of others expect you to do.

Needless to say, for companies, this gives them a big advantage. If you want to keep your warranty, you have to go through them. That means not only do they get to dictate how, and if, your stuff is fixed, they can also charge you whatever they want. You also cant get a second opinion on whats ailing your game console or phone, and you cant shop around to compare prices. And in some cases, this is baked right into the companys bones: Apple is famous for a closed architecture philosophy where it tightly controls hardware and software, a policy thats gotten it in trouble with the government in the past.

This has led to a years-long campaign, spun off from one in Massachusetts to allow anybody to fix their own car, to give electronics owners and third-party shops the ability to fix game consoles, phones, and other electronics without voiding the warranty. And, according to Ars Technica, the right to repair side just scored a major victory against the electronics industry:

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