India is planning its own Right to Repair program which basically means consumers have the choice to get their electronics or smartphones repaired by anyone, or even do it themselves. We’ve already seen companies like Apple, Google and even Samsung offer their respective repair programs, and soon they could offer it for consumers in India as well. But with is the Right to Repair program, how does it work and what does it promise for consumers in India? Here’s everything you need to know

What Is Right to Repair Program

As the term suggests, the Right to Repair is the right for a consumer to decide whether they want to rely on the manufacturer/brand to repair their device/gadget, or they would prefer to get to fixed from a third-party repair store nearby their area.

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In most cases, customers fear that getting their smartphone or other electronics repaired from outside the brand would void their product warranty, giving them a bigger headache if some part stops working. But this program wants to streamline the process and give the convenience of repairing back to the consumer. The government is also keen for the monopolising of the repair ecosystem to end and orders the brands to share their detailed repair manuals with the consumers.

The Department of Consumer Affairs said in a statement on Thursday that it has set up a committee — chaired by Nidhi Khare, Additional Secretary — to develop a comprehensive framework for ‘Right to Repair.

What All Items Are Covered Under the Right To Repair Program?

As per the draft of the Right to Repair program, consumers will have items like farming equipment, mobile phones or tablets, consumer durables and automobiles or automobile equipment. This whole electronics ecosystem covers most of the stuff we have in our homes these days, and now the industry has to look into adopting the program into their after-sale strategy.

Why do we need a Right to Repair Program?

The objective of the proposed framework will be to empower consumers, harmonise trade between the original equipment manufacturers and the third-party buyers and sellers, and reduction in e-waste, as mentioned in the statement by the Ministry.

Most people are aware that companies hold all the cards when it comes to a product’s after-sale efforts. You will need to rely on these manufacturers for the spare parts to fix a laptop or even a screen of your smartphone.
And because of this, the brands feel that their in-house service setup can deliver the best and assured repair work done.

After-sale repair is notoriously lacking a top-notch skill force in India, so giving some of the power of repairing back to the consumer is the main objective of this program. Apart from this, repairing a product extends its life cycle, which helps in reducing the amount of e-waste collected by a consumer.

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How Will Companies Abide By This Program

Now that the framework has been set up, what do the manufacturers have to do so that they fall in line with this program? They have to share the complete manuals of their products with the customer, giving them access to tools so that the service can be done as per their choice. In addition to this, they also have to provide spare parts or components to third-party repair shops.

Is Right To Repair Applicable In Other Countries?

Yes, the program has already come into effect in many countries. You have it in the US, UK, and parts of Europe. In the US specifically, you have the Federal Trade Commission that has directed manufacturers to stop practicing anti-competitive policies, and give consumers the parts for self-repair, or for them to get it done via a third-party agency. Apple, Google and Samsung have announced their respective self-repair programs in these regions, and they might have to offer them in India in the near future.

What Are The Challenges For This Program?

In India, the third-party repair ecosystem is huge but most part of the unorganised setup. Asking manufacturers to work with them could pose some concerns, and also companies will have to re-work their product manuals that are shipped with products.

The other issue is that, as companies like Apple have shown, their self-repair program is expensive and a tedious process, which includes the shipment of a toolbox, which in most cases will not be used by a layman. So, the program needs to tweak its guidelines and ensure that the brands follow the manual as prescribed.

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