Apple in crosshairs as FTC ramps up repair restriction crackdown

Apple in crosshairs as FTC ramps up repair restriction crackdown. Image: A disassembled Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (photo: iFixit)
A disassembled Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max (photo: iFixit)

U.S. Federal Trade Commission:

The Federal Trade Commission today unanimously voted to ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions that prevent small businesses, workers, consumers, and even government entities from fixing their own products. The policy statement adopted today is aimed at manufacturers’ practices that make it extremely difficult for purchasers to repair their products or shop around for other service providers to do it for them. By enforcing against restrictions that violate antitrust or consumer protection laws, the Commission is taking important steps to restore the right to repair.

In May, the FTC released a report to Congress that concluded that manufacturers use a variety of methods—such as using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limiting the availability of parts and tools, or making diagnostic software unavailable—that have made consumer products harder to fix and maintain. The policy statement notes that such restrictions on repairs of devices, equipment, and other products have increased the burden on consumers and businesses. In addition, manufacturers and sellers may be restricting competition for repairs in a number of ways that might violate the law.

“These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said during an open Commission meeting. “The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today’s policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor.”

In the policy statement, the Commission said it would target repair restrictions that violate antitrust laws enforced by the FTC or the FTC Act’s prohibitions on unfair or deceptive acts or practices. The Commission also urged the public to submit complaints of violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which prohibits, among other things, tying a consumer’s product warranty to the use of a specific service provider or product, unless the FTC has issued a waiver.

The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the policy statement during an open Commission meeting live streamed to its website.

MacDailyNews Take: People will get hurt (especially by damaging batteries during attempted repairs), components will break in inexperienced hands, devices that could have been repaired by capable, trained, experienced hands will instead be destroyed then landfilled, and Apple will get blamed for it all.

This is not a “we want to make a profit on battery replacements” issue. Apple has and makes more than enough money on myriad other products and services.

This is a safety issue.

Scams abound in the unauthorized iPhone battery business and theses batteries are capable of doing much damage if not properly handled and installed.

Do you want to be trapped aboard a jet plane at 30,000 feet when Joe Six Pack’s self-replaced no-name battery inside his shitty Android phone decides to spontaneously combust?

Until reasonable safety and security concerns can be laid to rest, we cannot support blanket “Right to Repair” legislation. The recent shelving of such legislation in Ontario and California suggest that legislators aren’t entirely convinced on the matter of “Right to Repair,” either.

SEE ALSO:
Ontario’s ‘Right to Repair’ bill killed after big tech lobbying including Apple – May 3, 2019
California pulls its right-to-repair bill following pressure from Apple, other firms – May 1, 2019
Why Apple doesn’t want you repairing your broken iPhone or iPad yourself – July 12, 2017
Apple lobbying against ‘Right to Repair’ legislation, New York State records confirm – May 18, 2017
Apple fights against ‘right to repair’ – April 20, 2017
Apple fights ‘right to repair’ proposal; warns Nebraska could become a ‘Mecca for bad actors’ – March 10, 2017
Apple fights tooth and nail against ‘right to repair’ laws – March 8, 2017
Right-to-Repair is ridiculous – February 16, 2017
Apple said to fight ‘Right to Repair’ legislation – February 15, 2017

17 Comments

  1. Cant wait for all the article coming out about how they took their device to a 3rd party it was destroyed and now Apple will not fix it. Then there will be a move for Apple to cover that also.

    1. Most people aren’t stupid and realize if they attempt to repair and mess up that repair that the manufacturer won’t cover their mistake free of charge if they cover it at all.

      That said, if someone replaces a battery and something else breaks after that isn’t related to the battery having been replaced the manufacturer should absolutely cover it… it’d be like upgrading ram in a computer and the manufacturer not covering a flaw in the hard drive because you replaced the ram.

          1. Yeah but your point on warranty is not valid! Yes you paid for warranty, but the major mistake everyone makes is thinking that that covers all..!! Warranty is to cover manufacturing mistakes and defects.. nothing else.. if you want more.. pay up.. if you then make the mistake to have a uneducated not certified not trained by the manufacturer repair shop.. don’t come complaining..
            Also..
            I find all the reasons from the FTC plausible at least because you can argue the other way around as well.. less innovation? Apple is trying new ways of designing the internals to be able to innovate on the functionality and overal design

        1. Apple is not responsible if you brick your display trying to save $25 by installing your own battery.

          No one ever said they would be, but if you successfully replace one component and another breaks after some time they shouldn’t refuse repair of the part that broke simply because you successfully replaced another part.

          The magnuson-moss warranty act actually protects consumers against that behavior.

  2. People will get hurt (especially by damaging batteries during attempted repairs), components will break in inexperienced hands, devices that could have been repaired by capable, trained, experienced hands will instead be destroyed then landfilled, and Apple will get blamed for it all.

    Vehicles have flammable liquid circulating through them and people have been repairing them since their creation.

    Sure, someone may mess up a repair causing damage or even become a safety hazard, but the manufacturer doesn’t get blamed because someone improperly repaired their product.

    Anyone against right to repair is really just defending anti-consumer practices enacted by companies designed solely to ensure all repairs are done through them and only them which gives them the ability to control every aspect including the cost of said repair.

    1. danthemoron827,

      This is a safety issue.

      Scams abound in the unauthorized iPhone battery business and theses batteries are capable of doing much damage if not properly handled and installed.

      Do you want to be trapped aboard a jet plane at 30,000 feet when Joe Six Pack’s self-replaced no-name battery inside his shitty Android phone decides to spontaneously combust?

      1. I suppose all vehicle repair shops not authorized by the manufacturer should be made illegal then too because an improperly repaired vehicle might leak gas where it shouldn’t resulting in the vehicle catching fire on the highway.

        Preventing people from repairing their electronics in the name of safety is just another way to keep control of costs and it’s nothing but anti-consumer

  3. Note to Apple: make it a very reasonable cost to repair your equipment, make it simple for repair shops to gain accreditation, make spare parts a reasonable cost. The whole world of Mac and phone users will thank you and your kudos will go up in leaps and bounds.

    1. More importantly, don’t penalize shops for fixing a connector out of warranty instead of replacing an entire logic board.

      They do have a repair program, but it basically just turns any repair shop that joins it into another Apple Authorized repair location subject to the same policies and prices as an Apple Store while preventing them from even attempting to fix an out of warranty machine without using Apple parts and charging the Apple price for out of warranty service.

  4. What a surprise you’re on the “feed Apple money” bandwagon. It is well documented that Apple misleads device owners about a product being “unrepairable” in an effort to sell the customer a new product.
    Apple also has a long history of ignoring consumer laws, particularly in Australia.

  5. I will decide issues of repairing it myself, safety, etc. I do not need a blog jockey ever to tell me that Apple, or even the US Government, must make these decisions for me. I have fixed my iPhones at least 25 times, taken my Macs apart at least as many, and saved myself hundreds of dollars. We don’t need handholding here … that is what the libs, progressives and big government acolytes want.

    1. ~that is what the libs, progressives and big government acolytes want.~ why not add the commies in there too, I mean you wouldn’t want them commies to be let off anything?

  6. …..”Do you want to be trapped aboard a jet plane at 30,000 feet when Joe Six Pack’s self-replaced no-name battery inside his shitty Android phone decides to spontaneously combust?”…

    Congratulations MDN, you have officially gone from pointing out FUD to actually creating it yourself.

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