Statement: House budget calls for FTC report on repair restrictions

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Right to Repair advocate calls reporting requirement “win” for campaign

BOSTON — The House Appropriation Committee passed its FY 2021 “Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill” on Wednesday. It included a U.S. PIRG-backed requirement for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to continue investigating anti-competitive practices in the repair marketplace and then report its findings to Congress and the public. 

Last year, U.S. PIRG was one of the leading pro-repair voices that presented findings to the FTC in its “Nixing the Fix” workshop exposing repair restrictions. After the workshop, U.S. PIRG and a group of consumer, digital rights and car repair groups called for Congress to make the FTC give them a report. 

The appropriations language reads:

“Consumer Repair Rights.—The Committee 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. Not later than 120 days after the enactment of this Act, the FTC is directed to provide to the Committee, and to publish online, a report on anticompetitive practices related to repair markets. The report shall provide recommendations on how to best address these Problems.” 

In response to the news, U.S. PIRG Right to Repair Campaign Director Nathan Proctor issued the following statement: 

“When the only way to fix something is to go back to the manufacturer, it can cost you an arm and a leg, and many times you get pressure to upgrade to a new product. The lack of repair choices wastes our money, and fuels a completely unnecessary electronic waste crisis. In our research into repair restrictions, we have uncovered clearly actionable violations of consumer and antitrust laws. So that lawmakers and all Americans can grasp the extent of this problem we believe it’s critical that the FTC report its findings to Congress — and even more so, to the public. 

We’re grateful that the House Committee included this language in the 2021 budget. This report requirement is a nice win for the Right to Repair campaign, and for consumers.” 

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