back to article European Parliament votes to screw repair rights in consumer toolkits

The European Parliament has adopted the right-to-repair directive with 584 votes in favor and three against, making repairing goods more accessible and cost-effective. "The rules clarify the obligations for manufacturers to repair goods and encourage consumers to extend a product's lifecycle through repair," said the European …

  1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

    Does this include anything about forcing the manufacturers to make available ALL parts at a reasonable price and baring them from stopping suppliers making the exact same parts available to consumers and 3rd party repair businesses... or rendering repairs pointless by the use of things like glues to make it impossible to take apart.

    Because without the latter parts... it's kinda worthless.

    But if it does... then this should filter across all markets as it's not worth the expense of producing 2 very different but identical designs to conform to laws in different continents.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Designing and selling devices that everyone feels they need, but cannot be repaired, is a lot more profitable, I'm posting this with my Pixel phone.

    2. Airdawg

      „ Manufacturers will have to provide spare parts and tools at a reasonable price and will be prohibited from using contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that obstruct repairs. In particular, they cannot impede the use of second-hand or 3D-printed spare parts by independent repairers, nor can they refuse to repair a product solely for economic reasons or because it was previously repaired by someone else. ” – as per the first link in the article

      I'd say that's a Yes and a firmly erect middle finger to companies engaging in such sheganingans.

      1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Thank you for summarising what I didn't have time (and in some case the will) to read through

    3. DS999 Silver badge

      How do you define "all" parts

      Can a company make a phone containing a single board that holds basically everything except battery and display as a single part? Or do you want to be able to replace one little chip on there, even if it requires microsoldering to remove/replace? How about replacing DRAM, which in every cell phone is bonded with the SoC and cannot be physically separated?

      It is easy to say "ALL" parts but it needs to be very clearly defined what that entails.

    4. 0laf Silver badge

      It's not just small consumer electronics. I have a heat pump and was chatting to the engineer servicing it. He was telling me of how one large manufacturer had decided to discontinue a line of biomass boilers. So stopping support completely and immediately. Those users with one will now no longer be able to source parts and will face huge bill to replace the entire boiler.

      Heat pumps are similar, they are much more heaviliy dependent on electronics than gas boilers and a replacement control board where available is around £2000. There is no law applying to these companies (that I am aware of) to force them to either supply parts for a period after production ceases (I think car manufacturers must do this for 10yr or some such) or release specs to allow a 3rd party to make parts.

      Yet another government facilitated scandal yet to come.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Heat pumps don't HAVE to be dependent on electronics - they are just air conditioners able to reverse. An air conditioner from 20 or 30 years ago had very little in the way of electronics, but one today is stuffed with them.

        I imagine there are gas furnaces/boilers that are stuffed with electronics too. The condensing gas water heaters I've seen certainly are.

        I agree its a problem but I'm not sure what to do about it. If you mandate long support life or making parts available that'll just make them more expensive to buy. I expect they would push back hard about providing specs enough to replicate a control board - because they'd need to make the software it runs available and that'll generally be proprietary.

    5. SundogUK Silver badge

      "reasonable price" is a meaningless phrase but otherwise...yup.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just a reminder

      that Tesla do not sell any spare parts to owners. They, as in their service centres have to fit everything. Do it yourself and you risk invalidating your warranty.

      Tesla has a notoriously slow parts supply chain. Even small things can take 4-6 weeks to arrive (if at all).

      Musk is IMHO making his cars throwaway items because those mega castings while saving a few $$$ in manufacture are unable to be repaired. A simple fender bender could mean that your Muskmobile is a write-off.

      I hope the EU cracks down on this as much as they go after Apple. At least I can get my idevice repaired reasonable fast. My neighbour has been waiting for 12 weeks for a new rear bumper for his Model Y. Every visit to the service centre is an 80 mile round trip. Yeah, Tesla's are the way of the future.

  2. Zibob Bronze badge

    The headline is badly worded.

    The use of to "screw" something in general parlance means to mess it up and be actively malicious towards a goal.

    In that case the reading of the title lead me to think the EU council had killed the legislation or make it so obtuse as to be useless to the end user.

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      Yep, I thought exactly the same thing. The opposite of what the article was trying to say.

      1. teebie

        "European Parliament votes that consumers can screw themselves with impunity"

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      I thought there was going to be a clause about using standardised screw heads, not stupid pentalobe things.

      phillips, flat, hex, torx... any others needed? What benefit do they offer?

      1. Yorick Hunt Silver badge
        Trollface

        Screwdriver manufacturers are very happy about the multitude of choices ;-)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "Screwdriver manufacturers are very happy about the multitude of choices ;-)"

          Maybe, but I often get a set of odd mass-produced screwdrivers when I order a replacement battery for something. I also have a small box with a big assortment of security screw bits to go with a common handle. The free drivers are about as cheap as they can be and I've only purchased one comprehensive set separately. Can they really be happy with the 3p they've made from me over the years? I can pick up more change than that on the streets if I were looking.

      2. CountCadaver Silver badge

        Flat head screws need a visit with the dustbin of history

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Mostly I agree with you, but there are plenty of occasions when they're just fine

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I have a much higher success rate getting old flat head screws out of joinery, than Philips

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I would see round head or mushroom screws as an alternative to flat head screws.

            Philips screwdrivers would be an alternative to flat-blade screwdrivers for me, and the latter fit slotted screws.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Philips? or Posidriv?

            The single biggest cause of problems I encounter is someone's past attempts to use the WRONG driver (or a worn out one)

      3. Spazturtle Silver badge

        Torx and especially Pentalobe have a much lower risk of striping the head that Philips heads on small screws.

        If we are going to ban any then lets ban the old poorly designed ones.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Whilst pentalobe might have an advantage over philips/flat, does it have an advantage over torx or hex?

          1. 43300 Silver badge

            Not that I've noticed. The Pentalobe ones seem to have just been Apple being Apple.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Exactly this

              Pentalobe were copyrighted and strict control exerted over (expensive) licenses to manufacture them, with Apple only allowing licensed repairers to possess them

              Several other drivers have similar backstories

      4. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Oh the old, we'll use a phillps for these screws, some torx for those ones over there and some security torx for those hidden ones under the thingmajg... and maybe we'll try and invent a whole new fixing just for the fuck you value.

        1. Andy Non Silver badge

          I got caught with that when wanting to change the batteries in my Dyson vacuum. Not only did the screws need a six point screwdriver, they also had a "pimple" in the middle requiring a six point screwdriver with a hole in the tip. I ended up tossing the vacuum cleaner and buying a different brand... a Shark, one you can actually slip out the rechargeable batteries and replace them if/when necessary.

          1. Andy Non Silver badge

            (Correction, it wasn't a Dyson it was a Bosch Athlet)

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Pro Tip: Put a small flat blade screwdriver in, and snap the security tit off. Now it is an insecurity torx.

            (The main advantage of torx, is you can use a flat blade screwdriver...)

          3. Lomax
            Thumb Up

            Numatic

            My Numatic "Charles" wet-vac is pushing 15 years of heavy use. Made in the UK, all spares available. It could do with a new hose, but otherwise works just as well as it did when new. The design has no special screws, no brittle but essential parts. I reckon it will outlive me, and it can deal with anything. So it IS possible to make good things.

            1. H in The Hague

              Re: Numatic

              "My Numatic "Charles" wet-vac is pushing 15 years of heavy use."

              Yes, excellent bit of kit and easy to fix.

              "Made in the UK, all spares available."

              A while ago there was a documentary about their factory on the telly, might be available online. They seemed to do most of the production (injection moulding, etc.) in house.

              My Dyson on the other hand, well it certainly challenges my creativity when I have to fix it. Latest thing was the hose tearing close to the handle. Not usually a problem on a vac, the hose is held in place by two rings, you pop them off, cut the hose off and refit it. Only Dyson had glued it into one of the rings so you have to cut it out, being v careful not to damage yourself or the ring in the process. I refitted it without glue and it seems to work fine, so no glue needed. Never buying that brand again.

          4. anonymous cat herder

            That's a fairly standard "security torx" pattern. The usual trick is to then put them at the bottom of a long narrow hole so a hex drive screwdriver with a torx security bit cannot be used, but you can get long reach security torx bits which solve the problem nicely.

        2. cookieMonster Silver badge
          Trollface

          And fuck it, splash a dob of epoxy under it anyway.

      5. Lomax
        Boffin

        Phillips

        While not designed specifically for it, the propensity for Phillips screws to "cam out" was considered a benefit on the early assembly lines: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cam_out

        Torx and hex drives were designed not to do this, and are far superior IMO.

      6. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Diffs

        Torx is optimal for delivering torque without stripping out the head, when the assembly is robotised with controlled-torque.

        Philips is optimised to minimise strip-out damage during human assembly, when the tool *does* slip. Hex strips out very easily, particularly when small, but is essential in limited-access; *large* hex bolts you will see everywhere because they are so good at what they do. They minimise human assembly cost for *long* bolts, because you just spin the Allan key in a way that you just can’t with any screwdriver, and that’s worth often an x3 in human assembly cost. Just try putting together flat pack furniture with 10cm Philips head bolts, and then come back to “we should have standard head type” - it’s pain in the backside. Flat performs poorly as a screw, *particularly* when the screwdriver is low quality and/or not matched to the slot width. It is however *much, much cheaper* to produce the screw itself - usually now seen in situations where the production volume is locally small enough that nobody cares about the human assembly cost, like backstreet Bangladesh sweatshops with everyone sitting on the floor.

        Not surprisingly, the answer is “which head you design in, depends on the application, method of assembly, and what you are trying to optimise for”. And, just like any other application, if you choose to optimise for home repairability, not only is the answer different, then you necessarily compromise on the other design goals. For example, if you don’t want Torx, you immediately require the screw to become much larger to deliver the same closing torque (clue is in the name!), a larger footprint on the PCB, and a larger device overall just to accomodate the screws.

        If you decide to require flat-heads, to maximise the probability of the bloke at home having the right screwdriver, you are also pushing the economic incentive *heavily* away from robotised assembly, towards the Bangladeshi sweatshop with women twiddling the screwdriver on their bare feet.

      7. gotes

        phillips, flat, hex, torx... any others needed?

        Canadians might be upset that you didn't include Robertson.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Yup, +1. I clicked on the article to wonder why the EU had managed to mess up so badly.

      But, no, the rights were not screwed.

      Maybe it's an American thing, like the different interpretations of a movie "bombing" at the box office?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        No, "screw" in that sort of usage means the same thing over here. It's just an odd headline.

  3. vincent himpe

    we'll switch to 008004. muhahahaha

    See if you can solder that.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: we'll switch to 008004. muhahahaha

      I sneezed and blew 100,000 mosfets onto the floor

  4. Grogan Silver badge

    Is it just me, where I come from, or does the headline "... votes to screw repair rights in consumer toolkits" more imply that they voted against it? Getting screwed rarely has positive connotations in speech lol

    At first I was irked, "those dumb, money-influenced bastards" but I see...

  5. IGotOut Silver badge

    Can someone please...

    ....publish the bank details of the three that voted against it?

    I just want to see how much it costs to bribe a politician these days.

  6. DJV Silver badge

    The Register asked Apple to comment on the EU directive and will update this piece if it responds.

    ....tumbleweed....

  7. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    As always people over complicate problems and think they see an answer to a problem that shouldnt exist in the first place.

    Take apple products, the problem isnt that they dont make battery replacement kits available to the public, the problem is the batteries are not user replaceable by simply opening the cover and exchanging the battery like old nokia phones.

    1. Cliffwilliams44 Silver badge

      This is more related to water resistance than replicability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And cheap builds: why have a flange, rubber grommet and a pressure clip/slide door when you can have glue.

      2. jonathan keith
        Black Helicopters

        Yeah, that's the convenient excuse that they'd like you to believe.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Indeed - the Samsung XCover (semi-ruggedised) phones still have replaceable batteries (and therefore removable back covers). We have some for staff who are often out in wet conditions, and the phones often get a soaking. Only issue tends to be that they temporarly refuse the charge if water gets in their USB-C port (they can tell and will beep and not charge when this happens) - fine again once they've dried out. Clearly, a sealed case is not necessary for adequate water protection.

          This is in contrast to the standard models, which allegedly have some water resistance (and sealed-in batteries), but they don't cope with the sort of usage described above: had a number get drowned, and that's why I started buying the XCover models.

      3. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

        Stop talking bullshit.

        If your phone needs that level of perfect water protection then you are an idiot and your phone would have died anyway.

        Nobody needs to take their iphone underwater or wash the dishes with them in hand.

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