The Right-to-Repair: Why You Should Care


Travis Reilly

Plop! We’ve all had that heartstopping moment when your phone slips out of your hands and goes tumbling down towards the floor. Sometimes, your phone is safe and sound; other times… not so much.

Repairing your device can be an expensive task. Companies like Apple charge so much for a simple repair like fixing a cracked screen. In fact, from 2007 to 2014, iPhone repairs alone added up to a total of $10.7 billion. The average repair is just too expensive, which leads most people deciding to toss their phones and get a new one. This contributes to a lot of e-waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 400,000 phones are disposed of by Americans every day.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could repair it yourself? That’s what the right-to-repair movement is fighting for. Manufacturers have been making it harder for people to repair—much less open—their devices for years. From methods such as hidden screws all the way up to refusing to sell replacement parts, manufacturers want to ensure that you will have no choice but to send your device in for repairs. It’s time that changes.

“People have the full right-to-repair,” states Tallwood Senior Cameron Fortuna, “it’s their property; they decide what to do with it.” Fortuna recently had an issue with his computer monitor which required disassembly to fix. Unfortunately, the sleek design of the monitor came at a cost of easy disassembly, forcing him to pry the back off. Doing so revealed the problem to be a broken video port. Finding a replacement for that monitor’s specific model is virtually impossible.

Tallwood Sophomore Alyssa Reilly echoes Fortuna’s statement by saying, “It’s my phone, I shouldn’t have to send it somewhere to fix it.” Reilly’s phone met an unfortunate fate when a short fall rendered the screen destroyed. Replacement parts are available; however, it comes at an extraordinary cost. Not to mention that the process of replacing the screen is highly complicated. After taking it to a local repair shop, they determined that the best way to replace the screen would be to also replace the frame. While it would make the repair faster, it would also contribute to needless waste, as the frame is still in good condition.

Tallwood Support Technician Justin Goldstine agrees with both Fortuna and Reilly. Mr. Goldstine handles the Chromebook repairs at Tallwood. Broken screens and missing keys are a weekly occurrence; sometimes these Chromebooks need to be sent to the Department of Technology for repair. Mr. Goldstine notes that he “would much rather repair them here on site,” stating that, “It would be done faster and devices wouldn’t have to leave the building.”

The right-to-repair movement is fighting to empower consumers. Legislation regarding the right-to-repair is currently a hotly debated topic, with a new bill being signed in New York recently. This is definitely a topic to look out for when catching up with current events.