Right to Repair Law

5 min read

Friday 2 Jul 21

From 1st July 2021, manufacturers will have a legal obligation to make spare parts accessible for consumers. These replacement parts will need to be available within two years of the product hitting the market and must remain available for purchase for 7-10 years after the product has been discontinued. Read the announcement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy here

Which products?

For now, the right to repair only covers the following consumer products:

  • Washer-dryers
  • Dishwashers
  • Refrigerators
  • Washing machines
  • Televisions and electronic displays

And the following non-consumer products:

  • Light sources
  • Electric motors
  • Commercial refrigerators
  • Power transformers
  • Welding equipment

The following products are not covered:

  • Cookers
  • Hobs
  • Tumble dryers
  • Microwaves
  • Laptops
  • Smartphones

A longer list of which exact parts will be available can be found at the bottom of this page on Which?

Why?

The goal is to extend the lifespan of products so that they can be repaired rather than replaced.

This change results from efforts to prevent ‘premature obsolescence’ i.e. the deliberate short lifespan of products built into them by manufacturers, leading to more consumer money being spent on replacements.

This is not only good for consumers who save the cost of replacing entire products, this change also falls in line with climate change policy as repairing products will help to reduce carbon footprints caused by the demand and manufacture of new products. Thus, less products end up in the landfill, electrical waste is lessened, and products last longer.

What should consumers know?

As put by the Business and Energy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, this change aims to put ‘more money back in the pockets of consumers whilst protecting the environment’.

However, this isn’t a ‘right’ for consumers in the traditional sense. The onus will very much be on the manufacturers and professional repairers to stock spare parts for sale. Consumers should note that some parts will only be available to professional tradesmen. These are likely to be those that are needed for more complex repairs. However, parts that can be fixed easily at home will be available to everyone.

Further, whilst products can now be more easily repaired, that doesn’t mean that for consumers purchasing the parts or hiring someone to carry out the repairs will be affordable. It’s therefore still the case that repairing a product may not be the most cost efficient option for everyone.

We may also see some products become more expensive as more people opt to repair rather than replace, but time will tell.

Does this affect the consumer rights law?

This new change doesn’t impact who bears the responsibility of the repair. Consumers should still check their warranty period. If it’s still active and the manufacturer or retailer has promised to fix a fault in that period, they are still liable to do so. After that period, there is no obligation on the manufacturer or retailer to provide spare parts or repairs for free unless they’ve expressly stated otherwise.

Therefore, the biggest change is that consumers will now have access to replacements parts, rather than a right to a replacement or repair.


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