The term “planned obsolescence” refers to a state of affairs in which consumer goods are specifically designed with short life spans, in order to compel consumers to make further purchases several years down the road, at the expense of the consumer and to the benefit of the seller.
A corollary to planned obsolescence is the practice of making it difficult for a consumer to repair an item that is broken – he must either replace it with a new item or take it back to the dealer or repair shop for an expensive repair. The California lemon law is an example of this approach. California’s “right to repair” bill is designed to remedy this situation so that consumers can repair their property on their own.
Manufacturers are in business to make money, and they make more money by repairing something they manufactured than by providing you with the tools to perform your own repairs. Consequently, manufacturers have traditionally obstructed consumer self-repair efforts by blocking access to spare parts and repair information.
This state of affairs has triggered a growing movement among state legislatures to introduce “right to repair” bills. California’s version, the 20th to be introduced nationwide, is called AB 1163. In a nutshell, AB 1163 is designed to make it easier for consumers to repair their products by closing a loophole in the state’s warranty law.
Current California Law
California law long ago addressed the problem of manufacturers attempting to block consumer access to repair resources so as to force them to purchase a brand-new product as soon as the old one needs repair. The problem is that existing California law contemplates that the consumer will take the product to a repair facility (not necessarily one that belongs to the manufacturer, however).
Under current California law, a manufacturer that makes an express product warranty:
With respect to an electronic product or appliance with a wholesale price of between $50 and $99.99, must provide repair facilities with sufficient information and spare parts to allow them to repair the product for 3 years after the date of manufacture, regardless of the length of the warranty.
With respect to an electronic product or appliance with a wholesale price of $100 or more, must provide repair facilities with sufficient information and spare parts to allow them to repair the product for seven years after the date of manufacture, regardless of the length of the warranty.
What AB 1163 Would Do
AB 1163 would reform the product repair system by requiring the manufacturer to supply information and spare parts directly to product owners as well as repair and service facilities. Service information would be provided free of charge, while spare parts would have to be supplied on fair and reasonable terms. AB 1163 would also expand the category of products to which these provisions apply.
Contact CKB Vienna Today
If you have questions about California’s “right to repair” act and would like to know how your company can mitigate its risks in the face of a shifting legal landscape, call CKB Vienna today or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, and Riverside County.