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After Apple Slows Phones, Interest In Repair Spikes in Massachusetts
A new survey released by MASSPIRG shows that interest in phone repair options surged as battery issues with iPhones made headlines.
Findings show that we throw out 8,100 phones each day in Massachusetts, highlighting need for expanded access to repair.
Boston, MA -- A new survey released today by MASSPIRG, “Recharge Repair,” found a surge in consumer demand for phone repair following the revelation in December that Apple was slowing phones with older batteries. “Recharge Repair “ identifies the obstacles to battery replacement and phone repair that added to long repair delays for consumers. The findings support the need for Right to Repair reforms to grant consumers and third parties access to the parts and tools to repair cell phones and other electronics.
Among the findings were:
- We surveyed 164 independent repair businesses nationally who reported a 37% increase in weekly battery replacement service requests since Dec. 20
- Self-repair interest surged as well – traffic from Massachusetts residents to iPhone battery repair instructions went up 152%. 4,969 people from Massachusetts viewed such instructions between Dec. 20 and Jan. 22
- eWaste is a growing concern. Massachusetts throws out an estimated 8,100 cell phones per day, our share of the 141 million phones tossed each year.
“Consumers wants to reduce waste,” said Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG Executive Director. “But there are real obstacles to waste reduction. We should be repairing things that still have life -- but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. This survey shows that people are clearly looking for more options to repair their phones.”
Eighteen states, including Massachusetts, have introduced “Right to Repair” or “Fair Repair” laws which guarantee access to the parts and tools needed for repair. The MA bill, filed by Sen. Michael Brady (S. 96) and Rep. Claire Cronin (H. 143), currently pending in the Consumer Protection Committee, would give every consumer and every small business access to the parts, tools, and service information we need to repair phones.
In December, it was discovered that Apple was intentionally slowing down phones with older batteries. They defended this tactic by saying it was intended to reduce performance issues, but had many people wondering if Apple was covertly pushing people to upgrade to a new phone. Regardless of intent, these issues are resolved by replacing the battery – a battery which Apple doesn’t make available to customer or third-party repair businesses.
“These companies go to extraordinary lengths to keep people from repairing their devices. They glue parts to the casing so they can’t be removed, they refuse to sell replacement parts, they digitally lock devices to prevent third party repair,” said Repair.org Executive Director Gay Gordon-Byrne. “Apple is telling some people they can’t fix their batteries until April. Certainly, there are people with easily fixable phones who will get new ones instead of waiting. Why won’t they just sell their original batteries to other repair businesses? This problem would be over in a few days.”
As part of the survey, Adam Fullerton, of MEGA MOBILE in Boston, provided this story: “One of our locations is two blocks from a busy Apple store. We routinely service water damaged devices refused by Apple as well as perform battery replacements on devices with evidence of water damage but no actual faults. People want more repair options, which is why Right to Repair is important.”
MASSPIRG supports Right to Repair reforms because they reduce waste by limiting companies’ abilities to push customers to toss products that still have life.
“Fixing something instead of throwing it away to buy something new is a common sense way to meet our goal of zero waste. It’s an important ‘4th R’--Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle should be the mantra. New Englanders are resourceful, they can find ways to fix things, to keep them from going to waste, sitting in a landfill somewhere,” said Domenitz. “But the first thing we need to repair are our laws.”
MASSPIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stand up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at www.masspirg.org.
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