The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to
support the right of consumers to repair their own phones, tablets,
laptops, and other devices, without going through the companies that
The recent EU survey found that 77% of EU citizens would rather repair a
device than replace, and 79% thought that manufacturers should be
legally obligated to facilitate the repair of devices or the replacement
MEPs call on the Commission "to grant consumers a right to repair by
making repairs more appealing, systematic, and cost-efficient, whether
by extending guarantees, providing guarantees for replaced parts, or
better access to information on repair and maintenance."
This is exactly what we have been preaching for years: the right to repair is a fundamental consumer right and access to spare parts and technical information should be unrestricted.
A washing machine, a tractor, your personal computer and mobile phone,
your automobile - as well as your watch - are not throw-away goods.
Manufacturers limiting access to spare parts are doing that for two
reasons only: to force you to buy a new product or to maintain a monopoly on repairs.
Ironically, the only reason that Swiss watch manufacturers are able to
perpetuate and prolong the restriction on the supply of spare parts to
consumers and watchmakers is because of - watch owners themselves. You,
the watch owner, are sold a lie that only the Swiss megabrand service centre can repair your precious watch
and no one else. Because your watch is expensive and has sentimental
value, and because you don't want it to be repaired by a 'sub-quality
repairman', you are willing to surrender your rights and pay more.
The biggest opponent of the 'right to repair' movement in Europe is
Apple. The biggest opponents to the change in Media laws in Australia
are Netflix, Google, and Facebook. Swiss watch megabrands are no
different. There is something perverse with those corporations; the
bigger they become, and with more
market share acquired, there is less will to share the profit and more determination to squash the competition.
Watch repairing is not rocket science. There are many skilful Australian
watchmakers who have been servicing complex watches for decades and who
can do an excellent job on your watch – if only Swiss brands would
allow them access to spare parts.
Yesterday, I got a delivery of Seiko spare parts. Casing seals, spring bars, bezels, clicks, crystals, and rubber straps.
My order was processed same day, with next day delivery. All original
parts, neatly labelled. Compared to the same Swiss parts – cheap as
chips. Opening a spare parts account was a matter of a single email to
Seiko's headquarters, and the fact that I am a professional watchmaker
was sufficient to have access to the spare parts granted. I was not
required to sit for an exam to prove my expertise; I was not required to
invest tens of thousands of dollars in Seiko equipment, nor to have a
showroom or service desk of any size, type or shape. Nor to sign an
agreement that I would charge a certain amount for a certain service.
Why? Because Seiko knows so well that if I fail to provide decent and professional customer service to you, then I will go out of business – and that’s how capitalism works.
If Seiko can do it, why can’t the Swiss?
My only hope is that the European Parliament will continue to fight
mega-corporations in the future. The Australian Competition and Consumer
Commission should follow the path – and do what the Australian
Government has commissioned it to do: to protect your consumer rights
and my business rights and obligations, and to prevent illegal