In a new report to Congress, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has identified numerous types of repair restrictions, such as using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limiting the availability of spare parts, and making diagnostic software unavailable.
The report’s findings, including that “there is scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions,” are primarily based on responses to the Commission’s requests for public comments and empirical research issued in connection with its July 2019 workshop, “Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions.”
The report explores means of expanding consumers’ repair options and how the Commission could assist in that expansion, consistent with its statutory authority. In addition, the Commission notes that it stands ready to work with lawmakers, either at the state or federal level, to ensure that consumers have choices when they need to repair products that they purchase and own.
Congress directed the FTC to issue the report, noting that it “is aware of the FTC’s ongoing review of how manufacturers—in particular mobile phone and car manufacturers—may limit repairs by consumers and repair shops, and how those limitations may increase costs, limit choice, and impact consumers’ rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.” Congress specifically directed the FTC to include recommendations on how to best address these problems.
The Commission voted 4-0 to authorize staff to send the report to Congress.