Did the EU just create Right to Repair for Appliances?

Yes and No.

Appliance and TV makers are going to be making some big changes in order to sell into the EU.  The media has applauded these new regulations as “Right to Repair”.  While a positive step its still wildly less than we need.   The standard is tightly limited to products that use a lot of energy, and far from all products.  A consumer will buy a computer monitor with different rights than buying a personal computer.  Farmers will be able to fix their welding equipment but not their tractors. 

Even more problematic is the dictat that only “Competent” parties can acquire the means to make repairs. Manufacturers have managed to insert the requirement that buyers of repair parts be “competent”.  It’s unknown who gets to decide on competence, and absent any official standard its likely to fall only to the “Authorized” technicians.  This is a giant hole and reinforces the need for legislation with solid ownership principles.

Are some consumers potentially inept?  Probably.  While many suggest there is a choice about which bodies get to decide on competence, the answer already exists:   The owner.  In our system of ownership law dating back centuries, buying things transfers responsibility entirely from the manufacturer to the owner.  Even if legislators, regulators and lobbyists in opposition to right to repair infer otherwise, the owner is in control.  Not a single opponent to right to repair has proven otherwise.

For example, millions of consumers are fixing their cars and driving the roads along side of cars repaired by “competent” technicians.  We don’t fear consumer repair of cars, which are far more physically dangerous to operate than a refrigerator or vacuum cleaner. GM and Ford aren’t testing and certifying consumers before selling parts.  If they did – they’d be more likely to be sued for incompetent personal injury than they are today.  OEMS do NOT want the responsibility of control that is being suggested.

These changes are unlikely to come over to US markets.  US consumers are going to buying poorly made, un-repairable costly appliances for years to come.  Maybe a couple of OEMS will decide to make only one repairable version for both markets, but its easy enough to sell different products to different markets.   Its only the beginning and not the end of our fight for our right to repair.