Fact vs. Fiction: Understanding What Right to Repair Means for Consumers and the Industry
Co-authored by Natalie Higgins, Government Affairs Director for the National Equipment Dealers Assoc, and Brad Griffin, Executive Director of the Montana Equipment Dealers Assoc to address local concerns regarding the Right to Fix Their Own Equipment Effort Launched by Farmers article.
Recently, small advocacy groups in several states, including Nebraska, Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts have been promoting what is commonly known as “Right to Repair” legislation. These groups have (unsuccessfully) argued that state Right to Repair legislation will lead to increased competition and decreased prices for consumers. What these proponents didn’t tell you is that this type of legislation does little to protect the average equipment owner and instead jeopardizes existing safety and environmental protections in several ways.
First, farmers and other owners of equipment already have access to the information they need to make basic repairs and to perform general maintenance on their modern equipment. The very same service manuals which are purchased by authorized dealers from Original Equipment Manufacturers can also be purchased by equipment owners and third parties. Claims by Right to Repair proponents to the contrary are false. In addition, many authorized dealerships offer free educational programs and other reduced cost incentives to help equipment owners minimize downtime from these types of issues. The service information that proponents of Right to Repair legislation actually want has nothing to do with ordinary repairs or regular maintenance; these proponents want to allow unqualified and untrained individuals to “repair” and/or modify sophisticated equipment mechanisms used in agriculture, construction and other industries. If performed improperly, these types of repairs and/or modifications could result in death or serious injury to the equipment operator or others.
Second, Right to Repair advocates want the right to circumvent safety and environmental preservation mechanisms which are required by law in order to “enhance” equipment performance. These types of modifications are not only illegal, but they can be dangerous and usually void the manufacturer’s warranty for the equipment in question.
Third, Right to Repair advocates want to “increase competition” by putting dealers, who invest heavily in technician training, safety infrastructure and appropriate liability insurance to protect consumers, at a price disadvantage against those who choose to skip such measures. The majority of equipment owners and/or independent repair shops lack the resources to invest in the safety and technology training that is required of authorized dealerships. In essence, advocates of Right to Repair legislation want equipment owners and/or third party repair facilities to perform sophisticated equipment repairs without investing in the educational and safety mechanisms that ensure that it is done safely and correctly. Dealers not only pay to ensure their technicians are trained to service cutting edge technology, but they also offer high wages in order to retain this talent in competitive rural job markets. This type of legislation would also create a situation where third parties injured by an improper repair performed by an unqualified technician are unlikely to recover for the damages they sustained due to the negligence of an equipment owner or third party.
Authorized dealerships strive to bring their customers value in all they do. To do so, they spend significant capital each and every year to ensure their technicians have the latest safety and technology training. They believe that their investment in their employees leads to more efficient and reliable repair processes which, in turn, benefits their customers’ own bottom lines as well as helping to ensure their safety.
Given these significant issues, Right to Repair legislation has been and should continue to be opposed across the United States. It is wrong for our customers and our industry.
Natalie J. Higgins, VP of Government Relations
Equipment Dealers Association
Brad Griffin, Managing Director
Montana Equipment Dealers Association
Photo credits; Jami Howell, Northern Ag