KSL INVESTIGATES

How a right-to-repair victory can help millions save money by fixing their own phones

Apr 5, 2022, 6:15 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:54 pm

LEHI, Utah — When something breaks and needs repairs, it costs you money. But how much you pay can vary wildly depending on how you get it fixed — something manufacturers do not always make easy. Especially, when they make more money by having you bring your broken stuff to them for repairs. Or better yet, replaced. Now, a major cell phone company says they are going to let you fix it yourself.

Dustin Knight runs Tech MD, a phone repair service that comes to your place to fix your phone. Phone manufacturers have not always been cooperative with him or other third-party repairers.

“No blueprints – nothing,” Knight said as he repaired a broken phone screen for Andrew Lambert.

Manufacturers have historically refused to release details of how to properly repair a broken smart phone or even to sell spare parts to third-party repair shops.

“They want you to replace them,” Knight told us. “They want you to get the next newest phone.”

But now, we are seeing a shift that could help you bust inflation.

This week, Samsung announced that its “Galaxy device owners will be able to take product repair into their own hands.”

Samsung will provide user manuals and parts to folks who want to repair their own Galaxy S20 and S21 products. This comes after Apple announced last November that they will allow consumers to repair their own iPhone 12 and 13 models.

It is all long overdue if you ask Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director for The Repair Association.

“There’s no good reason why we can’t repair our own stuff,” she said.

Gordon-Byrne is one of the leaders of the national “Right to Repair” movement. The idea is simple — if you own it and it breaks, you should have the right to repair it yourself or take it to an independent repair shop.

“This is ‘we don’t want you touching our stuff’ and all of the ridiculous excuses that come with why you can’t touch it — even though you own it,” she said.

“You’ve got to make an appointment. You’ve got to wait to get in,” Knight’s customer, Andrew Lambert, said about taking his broken phone into the manufacturer’s store.

He said by being able to call in a mobile repair shop like Tech MD, he saves both time and money.

“It ends up being quite a bit less expensive,” Lambert said.

The frustration of right-to-repairers goes beyond smartphones. From the cars we drive to appliances in our homes, and even farm equipment, folks are clamoring for the information they need to make their own repairs. Now, millions of smart-phone users have it. And if you don’t have to pay as much to fix your phone, you’ve successfully brought the repair costs down and busted inflation.

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How a right-to-repair victory can help millions save money by fixing their own phones