Just Let People Get Their Phones Repaired

A recent investigation into Samsung revealed some alarming contract language

Looking at smartphone
Getting your phone fixed can be more complex than you'd expect.
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Modern technology is, by countless measures, a step up from the technology of earlier decades. If asked if I rather have a computer, television or phone from 2024 or 1994, I’d opt for the 2024 versions in all categories. But there’s one big caveat there — namely, that getting a piece of technology fixed can be a lot more challenging now than it was then.

Much of that has to do with tech companies putting restrictions on who can and can’t fix their products — something that the Right to Repair movement has vocally opposed. In some states, including New York, Right to Repair is now the law. But even with that being the case, at least one manufacturer is pushing at the limits of what is and is not permissable under different state laws.

That’s the big takeaway from a 404 Media investigation by Jason Koebler. The investigation found that Samsung makes certain demands on independent repair shops to which it sells parts. These include sharing the contact information of anyone whose phone the shops service — and, more unsettlingly, being requested to dismantle Samsung phones that show evidence of being repaired with third-party products.

You might wonder if all of this is legal — and that’s a question worth pursuing. “People have a right to use third-party parts under the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, for one thing, and it’s hard to square this contact language with that basic consumer right,” John Bergmayer of Public Knowledge told 404 Media. Another expert cited in the article, the University of Michigan’s Aaron Perzanowski, called this “a substantial and unexpected invasion of consumer privacy.”

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Koebler’s investigation also states that certain states’ Right to Repair laws would supersede these Samsung arrangements. This does feel like a legal battle just waiting to happen — and a situation that might be easier for all parties involved if tech manufacturers allowed more leeway when it comes to repairing devices.

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