Don’t despair, repair!

With more companies opting for stringent repair rules at authorised service centres,  this makes third party repairing of devices at the likes of Nehru Place a difficult task

In Australia, an interesting “Right to Repair” inquiry against tech manufacturers has been under way. The country may soon bring legislation to regulate big tech manufacturers to make their product repairable by third party.

Getting repaired appliances at competitive prices by a third party is a big movement in western countries because it is not only cheaper but also environment friendly. The demand for focusing on Ecodesign, a product with low energy consumption and also increasing the lifespan of smartphones are being demanded by environmental groups.

India’s largest IT market at Nehru Place, which comes under world’s top 30 notorious IT markets due to its dealing with goods and services frequently infringing intellectual copyright, is well-known for third party repair. Patriot spoke with several shoppers in the area to find out how this repairing system works.

There are over 250 shops that repairs laptops as a third party, offering the cheapest possible options for repairing screen, hard disk, motherboard, battery. For instance if you need an original 500 GB SSD, a shop offers an original SSD in Rs 3,000, while the price for it in the store is over Rs 5,000.

Tushar, who repairs laptops said, “there is nothing that you can’t get repaired in Nehru Place.”  For laptops repairing, they use parts made by computer technology companies like WB computers, Kingston technologies. “These companies provide good products and you can get good warranty upto 3- 4 years.”

Still, many customers don’t prefer getting their mobile phones and laptops repaired at third party stores. Aman, who got his laptop repaired here felt this was a mistake. “My MacBook suddenly went off, so I came here. Although they repaired it, when I reached home my laptop’s battery wasn’t working for more than 10 minutes.” Not only this, theft of parts in a device are some common complaints too.

Also it results in loss of warranty, like warranty agreement of Apple says that “the warranty does not apply to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorised Service Provider.”

However, this feeling is not all pervasive, seeing the number of people coming to shops with their broken phones, laptops on a daily basis. Nehru Place has its own website that helps in reaching out to the stores, and getting ideas about prices.

Shoppers also told us about the problems they face repairing higher-end laptops and some  new mobile phones like iPhone 11, iPhone 12, phones of Samsung note series. Use of non-standard pentalobe screws makes opening the device tougher and the glued battery in phones make them more gullible.

Companies like Apple grant access to repair manuals, tools, error codes and even software updates to only authorised Apple stores and without which third party repairing of these highly sophisticated devices is very difficult. And Since repairing is very costly in these stores, for example a customer paid Rs 14,000 to change the screen of Iphone 8 — this forces people to buy a new phone instead of getting them repaired.

Navneet Kumar, who runs a mobile repairing shop in the area told us that so far brand new devices, which are tough to repair, are not coming their way.  “Honestly we don’t get many of these non- repairable devices like iPhone 12 because if someone has this much money to buy a phone, why would he want to get it repaired, instead of buying a new phone? But in case someone brings it to us, we refuse to repair them because we can’t.”

At a time when companies like Apple and Samsung are removing charging bricks from the boxes of their latest flagships to reduce their products carbon footprint, the juxtaposition is that these latest flagships are increasingly becoming more difficult to repair by third parties.

Similar instances can be seen in the changes seen in laptops with more and more companies opting for parts that can either be changed only at authorised service centres or make third party repairs more difficult. This especially comes at a time when more and more people are looking to either upgrade their electronic devices or are looking to increase their lives to facilitate work from home.

As such the move to introduce legislation that ensures the repairability of electronic devices, thus reducing e-waste and elongating their lifespans can be a boost for consumers as well as for the environment.

(Cover Image: Nehru Place market   Credit: Mayank Jain)

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