COLORADO SPRINGS — If you can't fix your stuff on your own, who do you take it to? For a growing list of appliances, tech items, and even vehicle repair, experts say they don't have the information they need to make the fix and it's costing consumers. Repair experts and consumer watchdogs say people are having to buy new because some repairs are so expensive, or hard to find.
Consumer experts with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG) believe the average American family could save about $330 a year by repairing instead of replacing electronics and appliances. Getting those repairs are also helpful in supporting small businesses that provide the service.
But those repairs are not always possible because those repair experts often don't have access to what's needed to fix items from tech to appliances to vehicles and farming equipment, and especially the newest items.
That's why "Right To Repair" reform is gaining popularity, calling for manufacturers to share 5 things about any items they make that have a microchip in them. Repair experts need, the parts, tools, and manuals to repair. Plus, the ability to update any firmware in the device and diagnostic software tools.
"What we're seeing is as more and more of our stuff is being made to be more digital, the companies who make that stuff are making it in such a way that only they can fix it. That really is cornering the market and it's harmful for consumers, different businesses and the planet," said Colorado Public Interest Research Group consumer advocate Allison Conwell.
The reason this is an environmental issue as well as the electronic waste when we throw out devices that can't be fixed. COPIRG says it's the fastest-growing waste stream in the world and Colorado households generate 196 thousand tons of electronic waste per year.
Our vehicles are becoming more and more technology-dependent too. At Autosmith in Colorado Springs, mechanics say not having access to all the information can create some challenges for making a fix.
"We definitely run into it. It's a struggle," said Autosmith Owner Darren Dodd. "Certain brands in particular you will not have as much information released on those, especially early on within the first maybe 3 or 4 years of ownership. It makes it tougher because there is nowhere to get the information because it hasn't been published. It hasn't been released."
There is a growing coalition of repair experts who run small businesses here in Colorado who are urging lawmakers to debate "Right To Repair" policies. But COPIRG consumer experts aren't exactly sure when this issue might be taken up.
Consumers who would like to see a change should contact their congressional and state representatives to ask them to take up the issue.
If you need to learn a little more about "Right To Repair" before reaching out to lawmakers, here is more information provided by COPIRG: https://copirg.org/blogs/blog/cop/what-does-right-repair-mean-colorado