back to article Appareils électroniques: Right to repair gets European Commission backing

The European Commission has introduced ambitious reforms to back the "right to repair" by forcing electronics manufacturers to improve the design, durability and recycling and reuse possibilities of devices they sell. The Commission is pushing back against disposable electronics and punts the idea of a circular economy in …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    Hang on a minute there

    "It's not just about electronics – packaging, food and construction all get a mention too"

    My pizza is single use and I like it that way !

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Hang on a minute there

      It is wrapped in cling fim, put in a cardboard box, then several boxes wrapped together in more cling film to make a multipack.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Hang on a minute there

        Just wrapping them in clingfilm would be fine with me.

        The marketing people would scream blue murder of course, since you'd then be able to see what your buying instead of the lovely picture (not to actual scale) on the box.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        From The Meaning of Liff:

        DORRIDGE (n.)

        Technical term for one of the lame excuses written in very small print on the side of packets of food or washing powder to explain why there's hardly anything inside. Examples include 'Contents may have settled in transit' and 'To keep each biscuit fresh they have been individually wrapped in silver paper and cellophane and separated with corrugated lining, a cardboard flap, and heavy industrial tyres'

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: From The Meaning of Liff:

          Thing is, the whole virus panic puts the idea of individually-wrapped products in a new perspective, since communal anything now raises the risk of contamination and spreading the virus.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    Good!

    I am pleased to see Europe pushing for this, particularly batteries that have quite a lot of unpleasant substances in them.

    As far as I know there is only one European company that has researched the recycling of lithium based batteries and they are based in Belgium I think called Umicore.

    If the car industry has done well out of repairs and spares for decades there should be no reason why the same can't be done for other goods.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Good!

      I think that there is a UK company working on building a recycling plant, and anything which encourages this is certainly to be applauded.

      It's not just a right-to-repair issue though, it's something that seems to be completely left out of all the push for battery-electric cars. There's some half-hearted planning for charging networks, but seemingly none at all for end-of-life recycling.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Good!

      "As far as I know there is only one European company that has researched the recycling of lithium based batteries "

      Tesla (at least) are heavily investing in the recycling/reuse chain.

      Current batteries are very recyclable - lead-acid is up around 98%.

      The big waste is in primary cells, not rechargeables and the problem with older rechargables is pollution from things like cadmium when they're NOT recycled.

  3. Primus Secundus Tertius

    What about updates

    The car industry provides another good example to the electronics industry, and specifically to software. Nobody sells a car that needs to be updated every month. The EU should refuse any certification to software that does not last at least one year.

    Mind you, I worry a bit about the modern systems of internets-on-wheels.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about updates

      At this point, I'd really like mandatory security updates for 10 years applied to any embedded software.

      We mostly think of phones and such here. Those will get a durability boost already, so their software security should follow.

      But there's more to it. Embedded software is frickin' /everywhere/ nowadays, and a frickin' lot of it is connected to the internet. Boilers, fridges, TVs, speakers... Even light bulbs now have firmware, internet connections, *and* an announced lifespan beyond 5 years (15000 hours for a Philips Hue is 5 years at 4 hours / day).

      Maintaining old software is not a glamorous job or a money maker, so it won't just happen by itself.

      1. jonha

        Re: What about updates

        > At this point, I'd really like mandatory security updates for 10 years applied to any embedded software.

        +1. Additionally, there should be a strict ban on devices where the manufacturer's firmware/OS can't be replaced by either the end-user or a repair shop.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: What about updates

          I'd really like mandatory security updates for 10 years applied to any embedded software.

          Whereas personally, i'd like a mandatory ban on connecting things to the internet that don't need to be connected.

          And my definition of needs to be connected does not include devices such as freezers, fridges, toasters, kettles, lightbulbs, e t c .

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: What about updates

        It doesn't even have to be free, I'd pay a small subscription for security updates past the two years they seem to have standardised on. Second hand shops are full of still-working phones that people will buy and use but are now vulnerable to known exploits. Why are we worried about Huawei if a good proportion of the population are carrying easily ownable hardware?

    2. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Re: What about updates

      Nobody sells a car that needs to be updated every month

      This is changing quick, and expect 'patch tuedays' for cars too in a very near future, unless you want your car be hacked.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: What about updates

        Yes. I believe it's more accurate to say "nobody sells a car that is updated every month". Whether many of the cars currently being sold should be updated frequently remains to be seen.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about updates

        AFAIK, the Escort mk V was the last Ford without an ECU and software under the hood. Besides ECU's, modern cars have god knows what hooked into their software.

        Remotely controlling braking in software would appear to be an ideal tool for disposing of political enemies. Controversial enemy of the state x died today in a car crash.

        No wonder the classic car market is booming.

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What about updates

      Would be nice and is already in theory covered by existing warranty legislation. But enforcement of non-EU domiciled companies is difficult. And then there are problems with things like insolvency.

    4. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: What about updates

      my ford mondeo had its convers+ updated every year when serviced. I knew when it was updated as it lost all the bluetooth settings. Holding the accelerator to the floor whilst turning the key brings up the diagnostic screen with the version number too.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about updates

      Nobody sells a car that needs to be updated every month.

      OK, not every month

      But SWMBO'd Merc had to have SW update at the last service because they've been caught up in the emissions cheating lark like all the other (German?) car makers.

      And the update has really buggered the car up, just like so many updates to computers do. Getting it to move off the line is a wing and a prayer job now. Will it move, when will it move? Are the turbos going to spin up. No one knows. There was bugger all lag before the update and I'd sure as hell not bought the car if it had been anything like this before.

  4. JimmyPage
    Flame

    This jumped out:

    While the UK, once actual Brexit happens, won't be covered by the rules it is unlikely that most large manufacturers will want to make separate UK-only Farrage-phones or tablets.

    So the UK will have to just accept something made to rules that once it could help draft, but now can't ?

    Remind me how "taking back control" works ?

    Again ?

    1. jonha

      Re: This jumped out:

      Well, if you don't like this... just found Farrage Phones plc, build those non-EU-specced Farrage phones (lovely name) and sell them to all and sundry. It's called free market.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This jumped out:

      To quote Steve Bell's summary of John Redwood's philosophy of the free market: "Drive where you like, starve where you like."

    3. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: This jumped out:

      Well the UK can draft it's own standards (Laugh!!!) but do not expect anyone to take any notice, they will just build things to the EU standard. Cos the UK will enact a more US friendly system (i.e. less strict)

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: This jumped out:

        Well if we can get some US cars at a better price I'm all for that, ditto many power tools, UL version at $100, EU compliant version at £175 so $200+, yet internally same tool, different labels applied

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: This jumped out:

          Could you possibly give us more details of that tool? Link to the manufacturer's website or something?

          Incidentally the EU price may include VAT while the US price is likely to be exclusive of sales tax (applied at the till I seem to remember).

          1. CountCadaver

            Re: This jumped out:

            Milwaukee ones were a frequent example. impact I have was £200 when newly released in the UK, I bought the same one (bar model name on box) from the USA for <$150 delivered and including VAT and import duty. Prices have gotten a bit more sane here now in the last 18 months, likely as so many were doing what I did and ordering from the USA rather than paying through the nose for the same tool in the UK, I even had a conversation with milwaukee where they claimed the tool was entirely different to comply with CE standards instead of UL and any external similarities were just a coincedence and everything inside would be different (I've compared the internals of mine to a mates in the USA and everything is the same, making their argument BS)

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: This jumped out:

              "Milwaukee ones were a frequent example."

              Sounds that the price differences are likely to be due to the company's policy rather than more onerous EU regulations.

              I'm not familiar with Milwaukee but Festool seem to suggest roughly the same retail prices worldwide. E.g. their CXS compact drill/screwdriver is listed as EUR 235 on their NL website and USD 250 on their US site (both excluding VAT/sales tax) and those prices are in the same ballpark. I get the impression dealers sell at those prices or slightly less. So, different regulatory regimes but broadly the same prices.

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: This jumped out:

                Sounds that the price differences are likely to be due to the company's policy rather than more onerous EU regulations.

                Possibly, but if we end up with a less restrictive trade deal with the USA then said policy won't long survive people buying at a low price and importing to the UK and making a more modest profit reselling it at below the market rate.

                1. H in The Hague Silver badge

                  Re: This jumped out:

                  "Possibly, but if we end up with a less restrictive trade deal with the USA ...."

                  Could you let me know how restrictive the current lack of a trade deal is when importing tools from the USA into the EU/UK? I.e. what tariffs are imposed on import?

                  From what I could fathom from http://tariffdata.wto.org/ReportersAndProducts.aspx the tariff is either 0 or 1.7%. I.e. mostly insignificant. However I'll be the first to admit I may have been looking at the wrong product categories. Please let me know what you find on the WTO website.

                  Or are you referring to safety requirements? As the UK tends to have stricter safety requirements than other countries, that would mean reducing UK standards - not sure that's what Brexit was supposed to be about. (And also something which could have been done while in the EU.)

                2. This post has been deleted by its author

                3. H in The Hague Silver badge

                  Re: This jumped out:

                  "Possibly, but if we end up with a less restrictive trade deal with the USA then said policy won't long survive people buying at a low price and importing to the UK and making a more modest profit reselling it at below the market rate."

                  Short response:

                  If the tools are the same, then the importer can apply the CE mark. So they could be importing them now.

                  Long response:

                  Incidentally, not all Milwaukee power tools are made in the USA. I get the impression quite a lot of them are made in China. Just plug "where are Milwaukee tools made" into your favourite search engine. (Sorry, can't go out now to the builders merchant's to look at the actual tools and check the type plates.)

                  Therefore, chances are they are designed to meet both EU and UL requirements and it's only the product label that's different. (And, for mains tools, obviously the voltage.) So the importer could apply the CE mark.

                  Hence any price differentials are likely to be based on the manufacturer's policies rather than differences in regulation.

                  Further musings:

                  As it happens I do a bit of work for a company which actually produces all its kit in the US and exports to the EU and I've never heard their guys complain about tariffs or regulatory barriers.

                  Apologies for rambling.

              2. CountCadaver

                Re: This jumped out:

                That was the point I was making, IF post brexit we permit UL products then milwaukee et al would have no excuse (but would likely still try)

                The point I was (badly) trying to make was that milwaukee were using a claim of difference in components due to different regulations to justify price differences and refusal to honour warranty on tools from the USA, unless I shipped it to and from the USA, justified by "our repair centres don't have parts for UL certified tools, I can assure you that there is no commonality in parts despite being visually similar on the exterior"

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This jumped out:

          Which US cars would you even consider importing?

          Personal prejudice I admit, but if it isn't actually made in Japan, Korea or Germany regardless of badge, I don't want to know. I prefer cars to be made by perfectionist people with a strong shame culture.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: This jumped out:

            I prefer cars to be made by perfectionist people with a strong shame culture.

            The Germans appeared quite ashamed that they got caught with their diesel emissions scandal(s) rather than ashamed that they'd had their cars pushing out many times the limit of dangerous exhaust emissions at rates that have largely rendered most European cities air quality far below safe levels.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This jumped out:

              Are you suggesting that the VAG cars involved in Dieselgate were responsible for excessive emissions in European cities?

              I find a lot of people who seem not to understand "installed base". While the VAG cars did not meet the emission limits - and let's be clear, that was bad - the problem is mainly caused by all the old vehicles out there which emit far more than the newer ones do. Buses, trucks, Diesel taxis, older Diesel cars shunt out enough nitrogen oxides to supply a fertiliser plant.

              That's why we have low emission zones based on compliance to standards much older than Euro VI. Because even that is a big improvement.

              (I would also mention that the German cars I was personally thinking of were petrol powered and made in Munich, Cologne and Stuttgart. I can't speak for Volkswagen because I've never driven one except as a hire car.)

          2. CountCadaver

            Re: This jumped out:

            Cars I'd like to see sold in the UK that I'd buy : Jeep Gladiator, F-150/Silverado/Ram (I live in the boondocks where I'd get good use out of a fullsize pickup (I move quite a lot of stuff) and I don't want or need the hassle of Euro 6 diesel (mainly due to sub 12K mileage a year), whereas for example 3.5V6 Ecoboost would suit my needs well, lots of torque, no dpf, no adblue and the interior can't be any worse than a Dacia, plus for the mileage I do, I could live with the MPG.

            For speed....Dodge Challenger Hellcat, unrefined lunacy on wheels, raw and visceral.

            (Admission I spent time living in rural Canada, so I have a serious softspot for North American vehicles, particularly full size trucks, happy memories)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This jumped out:

          > Well if we can get some US cars at a better price ...

          The conversion to drive on the right side of the road is probably going to add a few $$$.

          The power tools thing though just seems to be some import tax the UK charges. Any US$40 power tool becomes 200 pounds when it gets to the UK. :(

    4. druck Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: This jumped out:

      The article implies that the UK is the only country that is out of the EU, and there would be no one making products aimed at the other 168 countries and 7.2 billion people not in the EU.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: This jumped out:

        @druck

        "The article implies that the UK is the only country that is out of the EU"

        For some the world ends at the EU borders.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: This jumped out:

        It will be required for things like CE conformity which you see on all kinds of stuff not just in Europe because, unless a company has a bloody good reason otherwise, it's usually too expensive to have different factory lines producing to different standards. Many countries also mandate CE or EN standards so that they don't have to do the work of making their own.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: This jumped out:

        It would be nice if you went away and learnt a bit about standards, compliance, tariffs, volume limits and other aspects of international trade before posting.

        Trade barriers are many and complex which is why it took so long for Europe to get its act together. Much of the rest of the world has not and has its own local customs - some of which are at the level of "how much will you pay me not to see this truck full of stuff?"

      4. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: This jumped out:

        The article implies that the UK is the only country that is out of the EU, and there would be no one making products aimed at the other 168 countries and 7.2 billion people not in the EU.

        Well, it appears they increasingly don't, indeed.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This jumped out:

      Whilst there won't be UK-specific phones manufactured expect all the stuff that can't be sold in the EU dumped here to the accompanying chorus of "see how much cheaper stuff is when we're not in the EU" with the murmured addendum "if you don't count TCO".

    6. jmch Silver badge

      Re: This jumped out:

      "While the UK, once actual Brexit happens, won't be covered by the rules it is unlikely that most large manufacturers will want to make separate UK-only Farrage-phones or tablets."

      I'm sure most manufacturers will be happy to make a US version and a rest-of-the-world version. It's not like the US, China or India are likely to insist on EU-level of standards any time soon

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: This jumped out:

        You should look more closely at the consumer electronics you buy.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: This jumped out:

        "It's not like the US, China or India are likely to insist on EU-level of standards any time soon"

        For the USA, there's UL certification (you don't HAVE to use it, but you won't get insurance if you don't comply) - the 'Underwriters' in the laboratory are the insurance industry and they've established offices in China to go after counterfeiters

        For China, there's the cCc - whose standards are similar to EU ones (enforcement is spotty, but cCc labels on non-compliant objects is gone after with a vengeance

        CE is a _self-certification_ system and a lot of 'CE' stuff produced by EUROPEAN companies is substandard.

        Interestingly, the USA has also established a specific diplomatic mission in China to cover consumer protection, trying to go after dangerous items (and suceeding) - they work with the cCc amongst others. Because electrical safety is a core of so much stuff, that mission invited the UK's standards groups, etc to join in regarding stamping out dangerous BS1363 mains plugs - and were turned down flat.

        The reason? "We can only work in the UK, not outside" - even after it was pointed out that registering the design of the BS1363 UK mains plug in China (as a legacy holder, this is done on request) would make all substandard copies instantly illegal to _make_ in China and allow the authorities there to start going after the production facilities...

        As I've mentioned before, there's a reason "Made in the UK" and "British design" became warning label and bywords for "shoddy" across the commonwealth and this kind of parochialist belief that it can be policed by filtering imports (which clearly ISN'T working) really exemplifies it

        1. CountCadaver

          Re: This jumped out:

          Most of the civil service and most MPs (of virtually ALL parties) still think its the late 1800s, that Britain rules the world, that churches are stuffed solid to bursting point and new ones are being erected weekly to meet demand, that people shudder in fright at the word "underpants" and that children are wholly innocent until the day they turn 18 but should be treated still like children until at least 25 etc etc etc

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: This jumped out:

            Most of the civil service ...

            OI, don't you go including me in that. "Civil Servant" covers a large number of people - we're not all Bernards or Sir Humphreys !

            1. CountCadaver

              Re: This jumped out:

              Fair enough, apology tendered (I have actually worked with some decent civil servants in the past and was seconded to help them with a project that no one had gotten around to.

              So yeah apology tendered

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: This jumped out:

          Sorry I should have been clearer when I said "It's not like the US, China or India are likely to insist on EU-level of standards any time soon".

          I wasn't referring to current CE standards but to the future 'right to repair' standards mentioned in the article. I thought it would be clear from the context!

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: This jumped out:

          Actual CE is more than a self certification as all relevant products should be certified by an approved testing body. The last few electrical things I bought (Sony, and the Bosch system that came with my car) all had proper certification leaflets giving the lists of applicable standards, details of the test bodies etc.

          The fake, somewhat altered CE logo ("China Export") is a different matter.

      3. H in The Hague Silver badge

        Re: This jumped out:

        "It's not like the US, China or India are likely to insist on EU-level of standards any time soon"

        Apologies for contradicting you, but I think some of them are already following EU standards in certain areas. Here are a few examples based on my v limited experience in this area.

        Last year the government of Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, issued a tender for a range of refuse collection vehicles. A friend of mine worked on that and from what I remember the engines had to comply with EU Tier 5 or 6 and the bodies and bin lifts with the EN European standard for refuse collection vehicles. I think the winning bid combined German chassis, British bodies and Dutch bin lifts.

        India also uses the EU standards for diesel engines

        Source: https://dieselnet.com/standards/in/

        The Australian Design Rules (ADR) for vehicles are linked to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) regulations.

        Source: https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/vehicles/design/

        I gather Australia is also happy to accept lifting slings, etc. with CE certificates:

        Source: trainer of a v large heavy lifting company with a presence in the EU and AUS, and https://www.veltkamp.com.au/en/a-about-lifting-slings

        Similarly Australia accepts CE marking for ships.

        Source: https://www.amsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/marine-surveyors-manual-part-2.pdf section 3.9.3.

        Two of my customers build high quality (i.e. expensive to buy but lower TCO and liked by the operators) kit in Europe for supply to US and Canadian customers and I'm not aware that they have to make particularly onerous modifications for that market. A US company (similar price - TCO) I assist occasionally has to up their standards slightly for equipment supplied to the EU (and in the US also have to comply with stricter Californian standards, e.g. California Air Resources Board).

        On the whole I get the impression that EU regulations provide the consumer (i.e. thee and me, and numerous Commentards) with more protection.

        Hope this doesn't come across as too aggressive. (I have upvoted several of your other posts.) And apologies for being a bore.

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: This jumped out:

          @H in the Hague

          Thanks for the info, always good to receive informative feedback!

    7. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: This jumped out:

      'Remind me how "taking back control" works ?'

      Corporatists and mercantilsts get control back of the government and walk back all the laws that have been introduced to protect consumers + environment.

      You know, laws that prohibit putting pet(*) horses(with various drugs attached) into the food chain, sawdust in sausages, melamine in milk or sewage on Blackpool beach, that kind of thing.

      Oh wait, you thought this was about the people?

    8. CountCadaver

      Re: This jumped out:

      Like Google, they'll just start shipping the USA version or the version from the country with least regulation to comply with

      Now if that applies to Vacuums I might again be able to buy something with more than 90 AirWatts of suction (Dyson Animal 2 - 90AW of suction in the UK from 750W motor, 307 in the USA from 1400W motor, now tell whats more efficient....hint its not the neutered EU compliant version thats for sure)

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: This jumped out:

        Why do you care about power?

        I use my hoover to clean the floor, not as a willy-waving contest.

        Anything more than that necessary to clean the carpet is a waste, by definition.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: This jumped out:

          "I use my hoover to clean the floor, not as a willy-waving contest."

          Safety first.

        2. CountCadaver

          Re: This jumped out:

          Point is my current vacuum cleaner has 140Air watts of suction and with a frequently shedding dog, thats barely enough.

          200+ air watts of suction (as every other market bar the EU gets and in fact the USA and Australia get the 270-307 Air Watts version with a 1400watt motor vs the neutered and equally priced 92 Air Watts and 750 Watt motor we get) would make the job quicker and deeper clean the carpets and remove more allergens in the process. Why should I pay the same as everyone else in the world but get an inferior product, just because some pencil pushers in Brussels are under the delusion its going to save energy? (less suction = going over the carpets more times to get them clean, which means more energy used, and more strain on the motor, burning it out sooner)In fact they wanted 500watts of motor power as the upper limit, but for the moment they've backed down to 1400watts with the next target being 900watts, so cue all the manufacturers neutering their EU vacuums with 750 watt motors and cutting the suction drastically to meet this arbitary figure (which according to one manufacturer isn't even as simple as that, there are a tonne of other caveats attached which required them to drop motor power and suction even further and thus compromising cleaning ability further still)

          A better move would have been to mandate a minimum efficiency rating i.e. this much suction to motor power ratio and offering efficiency labelling based on that, I wouldn't care about that, its the broadbrush "this is the maximum we will allow and we don't care if it impinges on the cleaning ability as our "expert advisors" have shown us this presentation that claims Terawatthours of power savings" Its pathetic and really shows politicians should keep their noses out of technical specifications.

        3. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: This jumped out:

          I use my hoover to clean the floor, not as a willy-waving contest.

          I understand many hospitals have tales of remarkable people either inserting items into their bodies or conversely inserting themselves into tools such as vacuums: and Americans have always demanded the utmost power for home appliances...

          1. CountCadaver

            Re: This jumped out:

            I had a friend who was a nurse some years back and she said if organs inserted into vacuums was all that came in, then that was a quiet and tame night in A&E....said she's seen far far worse and stranger choices over the years......

  5. Ken 16
    Megaphone

    Farrage-phones

    I'm picturing something with large buttons, a very sensitive microphone and no speaker. I assume it can't make international calls either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Farrage-phones

      Are you sure about the lack of a speaker? I think of a Farrage-phone as having the loudest speaker money can buy, and no headphone jack or small speaker for your ear. Everyone must hear what it has to say, whether they want to or not.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Farrage-phones

        For similar reasons it has a very insensitive microphone so you must not only shout into it but repeat everything several times. It's not obligatory that what you shout makes any sense.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Farrage-phones

          Shouting nonsensical garbage sounds like a feature of a Boris phone. The Füherage sounds crystal clear, unfortunately.

      2. Ken 16

        Re: Farrage-phones

        I didn't think the owner would want to hear what anyone else is saying

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    It is not just phones.

    My fridge died last week. A £2.00 (or thereabouts) PCB had failed. Could I buy a replacement? 'Nope'. 'no chance', 'Not available' and 'You gotta be joking' were just some of the responses I recieved.

    So it was taken to the local Recycling Centre and I bought a new one (different make) at a cost of over £100.00.

    Madness.

    It won't only be Apple that it putting up a fight to stop this. All those 'White Goods' makers will be on the bandwagon.

    Try getting a bearing for your Bosch washing machine? good luck with that. Even dedicated spares providers can't supply one.

    This will end in tears for someone....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It is not just phones.

      I'll believe it's a thing when it applies to set-top boxes. I've got three of those, thrown out, which just need an unlocked version of the software so they can be used on Freeview or Free sat etc (I'm not wanting to get paid content free). I'm looking at you, Sky, Virgin, BT. As it stands I can take the disks out and re-use them, but nothing else.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: It is not just phones.

        "I've got three of those, thrown out, which just need an unlocked version of the software so they can be used on Freeview or Free sat etc"

        Hand a couple over to some determined geeks with experience getting at JTAG ports.

        They'll likely determine that there are GPL violations going on too.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: It is not just phones.

      Do Bosch not use industry standard bearings? If there is no number on the bearing itself you can usually take the measurements; ID,OD, width and application details and talk to a bearing supplier who normally can match 99.9% of bearings, that's what I used to do with oddball grounds maintenance equipment from strange places.

      Of course if they are deliberately using one off items designed for a particular machine they should be nuked from space because that would be walled garden territory, there's nothing on a washing machine that could need a bearing that would be non- standard.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It is not just phones.

        There is nothing on a washing machine at the bearing level for which it would be worth the bother of having custom parts. Even Apple didn't have completely custom screws on iPhones, just security through obscurity.

        However, removing and inserting bearings in zinc castings can be very difficult if they have been designed for once only insertion.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: It is not just phones.

          "removing and inserting bearings in zinc castings can be very difficult if they have been designed for once only insertion."

          Understatement of the year - but in that case you step up a level and look for the generic part or a reasonable replacement. It used to be you could go to a scrapyard for washing machine parts but those days are long-gone

          IME (for washing machines and suchlike) repairable bearing failures happen in motors because they're built to a price. If a bearing fails in another area then there's an underlaying cause that needs to be addressed and which will probably write the machine off

          (eg: has the machine been dropped, is the casting suffering deformation due to stress cracking, has the thing been regularly abused by the operator(overloading), was there local overheating?, etc etc etc - and you shouldn't be surprised to find how many "warped chassis" there are out there.)

        2. CountCadaver

          Re: It is not just phones.

          shrinking the bearing using freeze sprays can work, even butane can work in a pinch

    3. LeahroyNake

      Re: It is not just phones.

      I'm my case it is the phone.

      I really liked my Honor 9 lite. Made the mistake of having it in my back pocket and it dropped into the toilet :0 took it out sharpish and cleaned it with wet wipes but i obviously couldn't remove the battery quickly so just turned it off. Removed the back panel the next day by heating the glue with a heat plate, prising off an edge and gently pulling with a suction cup. Lots of moisture inside so disconnected the battery and let it dry near a radiator for a few days.

      Now it takes half hour to charge to 1% and the main board / the top one gets hot and drains charge quickly but it does work absolutely fine. You think I can buy that board ? I know it will be basically a new phone but it is quite easy to replace (I'm lucky I have the numerous tools at hand). Even if it cost £100 I would pay for it then waterproof the bloody thing with a liberal application of non conducting thermal paste over the internals.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It is not just phones.

      "PCB had failed. Could I buy a replacement? Nope"

      Of course not, they want to sell you a new fridge, however the board COMPONENTS can usually be repaired if you have a circuit diagram (or can work it out)

      "Try getting a bearing for your Bosch washing machine? "

      Ever tried BearingBoys?

      $HINT: Bosch don't MAKE bearings, they buy them from the likes of SKF

      What they won't tell you is what bearings they use, but that's easy enough to determine once you have one in your hand - and you would probably replace it with a part of 10 times better quality than if you COULD get it from Bosch, because the difference in cost is far less than the labour cost of tearing the motor down again.

      $HINT2: most of this stuff uses one of about 5 different sizes of bearing, and unless it's going into a specialist application a reasonable quality "generic" will outlast the rest of the unit - the others will be lower duty bearings - and cheaper, but for repair use it's cheaper to hold a tube (10-20 bearings) in stock of the more expensive bearing type than waste time ordering 1-2 cheap ones as you need them.

      Of course "Taking back control" means that consumers will end up shafted and this stuff will be EVEN HARDER to repair - Back in my technical/engineering days one of the hardest things we found was dealing with UK companies which refused point blank to be cooperative, and with importers who'd play "secret squirrel" on EVERYTHING because there's more profit in new devices - the rise of the Internet made it easier to go around them and also find out that "exclusive distributors" were frequently charging 2500% markup on software over going direct (or other shenanigans) - the worst offenders for this were subsidiaries of UK outfits, whereas other nationalities were far more cooperative for servicing and supply in the first place (as well as not tending to ship Heath-Robinson designs in the first place)

    5. CountCadaver

      Re: It is not just phones.

      Bearings - piece of pee, remove bearing, measure with verniers, check bearing chart for size and order new bearing.

      No invents new bearing sizes, they are bought from standard bulk stock and then hidden behind some obscure part listing with no sizes mentioned.

      PCB - Aliexpress is always worth a look, surprising what yoiu can find on there, particularly when you use the numbers printed on the board, usually one is the board bulders reference number (and generally sold to 101 companies for all manner of stuff)

  7. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    My wishlist

    1 - Every device with a battery must provide instructions that let the user change the battery in under 5 minutes.

    2 - The manufacturer must provide the service manual online at no cost. Any product that does not have a service manual because it cannot be repaired cannot be sold.

    3 - The manufacturer may not put in anything in their product that prevents or restricts anyone from repairing the product.

    4 - All products that require activation must include a product key. (The Windows product key is now on the motherboard; if your motherboard dies, you might have to buy another copy of Windows. This rule covers that situation.)

    5 - All desktop computer power supplies must conform to an industry standard. All laptop computer power supplies may not use the USB-C port for charging. All mobile phones must use a USB-C power connector.

    6 - All devices with a hard drive must have a user replaceable hard drive; the manufacturer may not limit which hard drive is used as long as it satisfies the industry standards.

    7 - All computers must have user replaceable memory; the manufacturer may not limit which memory is used as long as it satisfies the industry standard.

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Re: My wishlist

      Whilst I agree with your sentiments, you will need to be specific and have some allowance for innovation:-

      “The good thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from.”

      ― Andrew S. Tanenbaum

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: My wishlist

      All laptop computer power supplies may not use the USB-C port for charging.

      Need to change that to "must".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: prevents or restricts anyone from repairing the product.

      anyone ????

      That's a tough ask. You do realise there are some people who can't sit the right way round on a lavatory. Even with a manual ?

    4. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: My wishlist

      Most of those points make sense, but point 7 gives away the fact that you're thinking from the point of view of a desktop machine.

      Changeable memory? How will that go on a computer (as phones, tablets, and even the Pi) are when the memory package is soldered directly to the board or, in some cases, directly on top of the core chip.

      But +1 for remembering the service manuals.

    5. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: My wishlist

      Apple:

      1- You gotta be kidding me.

      2- What's wrong with the Genius Bar?

      3- Huh?

      5- Done, but look, here's the next-gen Apple USB-C complete with a chip to prevent non-Apple equipment from sipping pure Apple power.

      6- Like the latest Surface Laptop with a socketed but still proprietary SSD.

  8. SVV

    Good

    And when the companies start protesting, give them a public reminder that rather than relying on planned obsolescence and non repairability and replacability of parts, they should innovate and invent new stuff instead of desperately clinging to their cash cow which has been made fat by turning tech into throwaway stuff.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good

      And then if Apple says, "Well then why don't we just stop selling iPhones in Europe and watch your Apple-dependent customers squirm? After all, you can't compel us to make phones for you, can you?"

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Good

        "Well then why don't we just stop selling iPhones in Europe...."

        Yup, always a good way to wipe 10's of billions of dollars off your returns. Remember, no iPhone = no iTunes, no iWatch, no Airpods and on and on....

      2. genghis_uk Silver badge

        Re: Good

        If they do the Android sellers will all say thank you very much. I am sure Samsung and Huawei would be more than happy.

        The EU market is roughly equivalent to the US market and, as has already been pointed out, it is the whole Apple ecosystem at stake if they pull the iPhone.

  9. Dr Gerard Bulger

    A right to repair is Luddite. The policy will not work as the companies will stop selling you stuff. You will have to lease it, and return on upgrade or repair. They are so close to that model anyway, the lease not buy, the change will allow them to build in redundancy as they they do now but with more aplomb. OK, the firms will recycle the chemicals, but there will be no right to repair as will not own it.

    The modern single chip is made up what was multiple components. You cannot repair a chip. It is inevitable that a phone will almost be a single printed component.

    Yes of course for items we own we should be salvageable for those who can be bothered; be able to flash an old Iphone with a new OS to make it usable again. The first ones were so well made, there is little wrong with them apart from being a bit slow. Only the software is useless.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "You will have to lease it, and return on upgrade or repair."

      That means the lessor has an interest in TCO. If the vendor is the lessor expect stuff to be built to last.

  10. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Flame

    Battery Life

    I have always considered it demented that when recyclable batteries became good enough government did not completely ban the creation of non-recyclable batteries and ease them out for good.

    A stunning ongoing waste of materials.

    .

    [ And fuck what ordinary people want: you can't run a planet on petty prejudices and sentimental custom * ]

    * With a shout-out to the president of the USA's recent directive stopping the phasing out of incandescent lightbulbs, catering to demand.

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