RELEASE: Right to Repair leaders call for FTC to issue new pro-repair rules

Media Contacts
Nathan Proctor

Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, iFixit call for FTC to use its authority to improve repairability of products

WASHINGTON — Two years after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) unanimously voted to “combat unlawful repair restrictions,” U.S. PIRG Education Fund and iFixit are calling on the FTC to initiate a new rulemaking to address these restrictions. In a petition delivered on Tuesday, these two prominent Right to Repair advocacy groups called for the FTC to set minimum standards for repairability, and greater transparency for consumers seeking to purchase repairable products. 

“We live in a world surrounded by things that should last and be fixable, but instead, end up thrown away too soon,” said U.S. PIRG Education Fund Senior Right to Repair Campaign Director Nathan Proctor. “As the FTC and others have noted, that drains our wallets, fuels an electronic waste crisis and undermines local repair shop businesses. The FTC clearly plays a role in fixing these problems, allowing us to fix our modern devices.” 

In their petition, PIRG and iFixit, both members of the coalition, asked for a new rule using the FTC’s Section 5 authority, to address the following consumer expectations: 

  • Consumable components that are guaranteed to wear down, such as batteries, ought to be replaceable and readily available throughout a product’s usable life span.
  • Components that commonly break ought to be replaceable and readily available as repair parts.
  • Consumers should be able to choose to take damaged products to a repair shop of their choice, or perform a repair themselves.
  • When a manufacturer discontinues support for a product, its key functions ought to remain intact, and an independent repair shop ought to be able to continue to perform repairs.
  • Identical components from two identical devices ought to be interchangeable without manufacturer intervention.
  • Independent repair shops should not be required to report customers’ personally identifiable information to the manufacturer.

Additionally, the groups called for the FTC to create a repair scoring system that shows consumers how repairable a product is incentivizing manufacturers to make more repairable products. Other countries have already instituted a similar system, as is examined in U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s report “Failing the Fix.” 

“The FTC has been a strong ally in protecting our right to fix everything we own,” said Director of Sustainability for iFixit, Liz Chamberlain. “They’ve investigated manufacturers’ bogus counterarguments, testified about those findings in California, and ramped up enforcement actions—including against Harley-Davidson and Weber. But for the FTC to be fully empowered to fix the things stopping us from fixing things, they need new rules. This petition for rulemaking aims to give the FTC the power they need to ensure that we can all fix all our things.”

If the FTC deems the petition sufficient to proceed, the agency will open a public comment period during which Americans tired of repair restrictions and opacity can let their voices be heard.

Read the full petition here: