British right to repair law goes into effect today but doesn’t cover smartphones or computers
A British right to repair law has gone into effect from today, although it doesn’t cover smartphones or computers. The law requires manufacturers to make spare parts available to both consumers and third-party repair companies, and it applies to any product bought starting today. Companies have a grace period of up to two years to make spare parts available whenever a new product is launched.
As reported by the BBC (via 9to5Mac), the purpose of the new law is to extend the lifespan of products up to 10 years in order to benefit the environment and consumers. It aims to tackle “built-in obsolescence”, which is when manufacturers deliberately build products to break down after a certain length of time has passed. This encourages consumers to spend more money and buy a replacement. This follows after the EU introduced right to repair laws, though the EU’s law does also pertain to smartphones.
Which? pointed out that the law only covers four different consumer product categories alongside some commercial ones, and it only lasts for 7 or 10 years. Which? also points out that “cookers, hobs, tumble dryers, microwaves, or tech such as laptop or smartphones aren’t covered”. The right to repair laws cover the following:
- Washing machines and washer-dryers;
- Refrigeration appliances;
- Televisions and other electronic displays.
They also cover non-consumer electronics, such as light sources, electric motors, refrigerators with a direct sales function (e.g. fridges in supermarkets, vending machines for cold drinks), power transformers, and welding equipment.
Spare parts won’t be available for everyone either, as some parts that are not easy to replace will only be available to professionals who can make those fixes. In the case of dishwashers, the replacement of a PCB in a dishwasher can only be sold to a professional, and those parts only need to be available for seven years. However, parts easily swapped out by consumers like spray arms and door hinges must be available for ten years at minimum.
Why this doesn’t apply to smartphones or computers is anyone’s guess, as smartphones in particular are subject to a lot of wear and tear in our daily lives. Smartphones face water damage, impact damage, and are carried around with most people at all times of the day. Not only are they essential for most people’s lives, but they’re also tech products that are certainly not averse to damage. The EU’s right to repair “action plan” even mentioned the lack of software support on smartphones being a potential incentive for people to replace their old handset prematurely.