WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumer Reports today released findings from a nationally representative survey about consumer attitudes toward repairing and replacing broken products and the choices available to them. The survey of 2,075 U.S. adults was conducted in November and December 2021. A strong majority of Americans expressed support for policies that would help ensure consumers have the ability to repair their own products or to have them repaired by the servicer of their choice.
The independent, nonprofit CR is a longtime champion of the “right to repair,” which guarantees that consumers and independent repairers have the same access as a manufacturer’s authorized repair technicians to the information, parts, and tools needed for repairs. The right to repair means that the manufacturer cannot require consumers to take the product to the manufacturer’s hand-picked repair shop.
Other highlights from the survey include:
- Eight out of ten Americans (81%) say they have, in the past five years, replaced at least one of the types of items we asked about (smartphones, small and large home appliances, and vehicles) due to breakage.
- When deciding which product to purchase in certain categories, repairability is important. For those planning to buy a vehicle, 83% say repairability is very important; for large appliances, 60% say it’s very important.
- When asked if they believe consumers have enough choices when it comes to picking where they will get something repaired, more than half (57%) of Americans said “No,” there are not enough choices for at least one of the product types we asked about.
- More than half of Americans (53%) say they have replaced a broken product, in at least one of the categories we asked about, sooner than they wanted to because they couldn’t find a repair professional they were happy with to fix it.
- Most Americans (84%) say they agree with a policy that would require manufacturers to make repair information and parts available either to independent repair professionals or to product owners.
Legislation to guarantee consumers the right to repair has been gaining support at the state and national level as manufacturers have made it more difficult to make what should be simple repairs on electronics-enabled products. Restricting access to basic diagnostic information, tools, and replacement parts needed to make those repairs forces consumers to rely on the manufacturer or its hand-picked servicers. Without competition and choice, repair costs get inflated, and getting repairs done can be far less convenient. Sometimes the manufacturer even refuses to repair the product at all, forcing the consumer to throw it away and buy a new one.
CR has been supporting right-to-repair legislation, including the Fair Repair Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Joseph Morelle of New York. This is the first bill in Congress that would guarantee consumers the right to have their electronic devices fixed by a repair servicer of their choosing — or to make their own repairs, if they can. The Fair Repair Act is based on model legislation developed by Consumer Reports and other allies in the right-to-repair effort. CR is supporting similar legislation in a number of states, including by co-sponsoring California state Senator Susan Eggman’s bill SB 983, which was introduced in Sacramento earlier this month.
Right to repair advocates have been making progress on several fronts in recent months. Last November, Apple announced that it planned to start providing customers with access to parts, tools, and manuals necessary to repair certain models of the iPhone. President Biden released an executive order that would advance the right to repair for consumers by encouraging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue rules to protect repair rights. In addition, the FTC released a landmark report, Nixing the Fix, which explores how repair restrictions hurt consumers, particularly low-income consumers and communities of color.