CALPIRG Education Fund
Here in California, we want to fix our stuff – even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As people try to stay at home as much as possible, it’s more important than ever that our home appliances and devices are working. From kitchen appliances to laptops, gaming systems and televisions, our tech helps us stay home, stay safe, and stay sane.
But inevitably, things break or don’t work right. You could throw it away, but don’t want to be wasteful, and money is tight in this economy. In addition, due to supply chain disruptions and store closures, you might have difficulty finding some devices to buy, especially in the spring and summer of 2020.
Instead, you try to get your device fixed or to fix it yourself.
According to a review of data from iFixit, which describes itself as the “repair guide for everything, written by everyone,” over 6.8 million unique users from California went to www.iFixit.com to look up how to repair something in 2020.
Of those visitors, the top ten device types that Californians attempted to fix were laptops, cell phones, gaming consoles, automobiles, desktop computers, tablets, vacuums, appliances, speakers and gaming controllers. Laptop repair guides were the most popular, receiving 20.3 percent of all the page views. Cell phones were a close second, receiving 20.1 percent.
According to the repair shop owners and repair industry experts we interviewed, the pandemic also changed which devices we took to repair shops. We interviewed ten repair shop owners, seven of which reported an increase in business during the pandemic. They repaired more gaming consoles and computers than normal, and their customers were eager to get their devices fixed quickly.
Repair cuts waste, saves consumers money, and also promotes resilience that helps us manage a pandemic. Even as repairing our devices for learning and working became critical to staying safe, 6 of the top 10 most popular manufacturers of devices that Californians were trying to fix restrict access to parts and service information – including the top four. Repair is popular, but the devices we most want to fix restrict access to what we need, underscoring the importance of Right to Repair reforms.