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The FTC is looking at fixing appliance repair, but it needs to go beyond manuals

Firmware access and parts are also needed for a real repair push.

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Enlarge / The circuitry that’s increasingly inside every modern appliance adds another layer of complexity to fixing the things you own. (credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission is considering new rules that would require any appliances touting a familiar yellow EnergyGuide label to also include “information on how consumers can repair their products.”

Citing its own “Nixing the Fix Report,” the FTC states that repair information will “strengthen consumers’ right to repair damaged products, without the need to go back to the manufacturer.” That could save customers money, allow non-licensed dealers and repair techs to better compete, and protect the environment, the FTC claims.

Right-to-repair advocates are energized by the proposed rulemaking, the publication of which was unanimously approved. “This is a big deal,” Kyle Wiens, CEO of repair advocate and store iFixit, wrote Monday. “It’s hard to think of a more impactful, consumer-facing and repair policy move from the FTC, or a more surefire way to get repair instructions into the hands of more consumers who need them.” Wiens noted that appliance manuals, whether provided by the company or written by iFixit members on the company’s wiki-style site, are harder to come by than for small electronics. Most people don’t want to take apart devices that weigh hundreds of pounds and draw heavy power or flammable gas to learn more about them.

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