5 ways companies make it hard or even impossible to repair their products

There’s no doubt about it – repairing our electrical or electronic products is getting tougher. As our products become both more complicated and compact, manufacturers are making them less and less repairable. Why? For different reasons, but mainly because it makes you go out and buy a new one. This drives up profits and, unfortunately, wastes precious natural resources.

Don’t believe us? We’ve compiled 5 ways manufacturers make it hard to repair things like our laptops, our tablets or our mobile phones.

5. Special screws

A lot of manufacturers use very specific screws which the average consumer doesn’t have the appropriate screwdriver for. Tri-wing screws, or even pentalobe screws, are not your average screws. If you’re forcing us to go out and buy a special screw-driver toolkit before we can even open up the product, you’re hardly making it easy for us – if we haven’t already given up.

4. Faulty parts not always accessible

In a perfect world, the parts most likely to fail in a product should be the ones you can access most easily. But that’s obviously not always the case. Take the average electric toothbrush – more often than not, it’s impossible to replace the battery. So when it fails, you’re basically left having to be plugged in all the time or are forced to buy a new one.

3. Gluing or sealing things together instead of using screws

Some companies are increasingly using glue to put products together instead of using conventional screws. This is often the case with tablets or mobile phones. So if you need to replace a cracked screen, you’ll have to heat it to loosen the glue before you can detach it from other components.

It’s a similar story with washing machines. Most of them come with a sealed drum, meaning that if there’s a problem with the inner drum, the entire drum assembly needs to be removed. And guess what? it can be more expensive to repair than to buy a whole new machine.

2. Spare parts aren’t always available and when they are, they aren’t cheap

The lack of spare parts is one of the things that hinders repairing the most.

Manufacturers of household products are simply not making them in big enough numbers – so the demand is always higher than the offer. Basically you are left needing it more than they are ready to offer you. A couple of years ago, the European Union forced the automotive industry to produce more spare parts after the passing of specific legislation – that’s why it is much easier to repair a car than, say, a boiler.

In an ideal world, spare parts should be widely available. They should also be affordable for a minimum number of years following the last product batch. And if you aren’t into DIY yourself, they should be made available at affordable prices to third parties such as re-use centres or repair services.

1. Where are the repair instructions?

For ages, a big way of avoiding any possible repair is simply to avoid us to get hold of proper repair manuals for many of the products we buy. Seems simple right? Well we can all imagine that such instructions exist, as someone had to put the device together in the first place. When only authorised service representatives get reliable repair instructions, this drives up the cost of repair and makes it hard for independent repair shops to compete and survive. Lots of companies already put all their repair information online. But others are fighting to keep their repair manuals out of consumers’ hands. And obviously we all wish that this happen quite soon. Have a look in the meantime to Ifixit, the largest community of online repair manual – with a bit of luck, your electric toothbrush might be repairable!

By | 2017-04-28T13:37:15+00:00 January 19th, 2016|0 Comments