Right to repair: Consumer advocates call for more speed

Evaluation of mobile phone damage If a repair costs more than a new smartphone

Politicians demand it, and manufacturers also see it: A damaged smartphone shouldn’t just be discarded as electronic waste land. The Federation of German Consumer Organizations now shows how expensive a simple defect can be.


A defective smartphone: Especially with cheap devices, there is a risk a total loss

Photo: Thomas Trutschel / phot othek / IMAGO

A moment of inattention is enough: you get stuck with your sleeve and the smartphone lands with a lot of momentum on the asphalt. If the display shatters, it quickly costs more than 200 euros after yourself. Like the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (vzbv) in a survey of 345 offers, the repair costs for cheap models 42 percent to 70 percent of the new price – if the device is not very new, it is usually a total loss.

Sometimes the workshops even charge more than the new price. For a device with a new price of 200 According to the survey, the repair of the display would have cost 369 Euro cost. The consequence of such prices: Many customers do without the repair and live with a splintered smartphone or buy a new one straight away.

According to a Forsa survey commissioned by consumer advice centers

Percentage of surveyed smartphone owners whose device has been connected to in the past 24 if a defect occurred months ago, do not repair it. Half of those interviewed stated that the repair was too expensive for them.

Consumer advocates call for progress

The head of the vzbv, Ramona Pop, hopes for “real progress” through the “right to repair” promised by politicians. This project is anchored in the coalition agreement of the traffic light parties. Consumer Protection Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) had announced it as an “important step out of the throwaway society”. The consumer advocates are now pushing for a quick implementation.

“Other countries like France are leading the way,” says Ramona Pop. With the French repair index, for example, consumers can judge devices by how well they can be repaired. “That would not only be conceivable for Germany, but also desirable.”

Because many would like the devices to last longer, says Pop. The products should not break down shortly after the end of the warranty, as is often the case. “More and more people are saying: I don’t have to buy a new one straight away just because something broke,” says Pop. “But we also see that relatively high repair costs put many people off.”

  • A government subsidy for repairs?

    Pop has another suggestion. “It would be conceivable that a right to repairs could be combined with a repair bonus in order to offset the sometimes high costs to a certain extent,” she says. Of course, when it comes to devices that were perhaps not all that expensive, one considers whether it would be better to buy a new one instead of repairing it. A bonus paid directly could simplify the decision for a repair here – and bring with it considerable financial relief in times of high inflation.

  • More on the subject

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  • Meanwhile, the industry has also recognized the need for better repairability. For example, according to the repair portal »iFixit«, the first iPhones were notoriously difficult to repair. But Apple is now releasing original repair tools so that independent workshops can also replace a display without jeopardizing functions such as the fingerprint scanner. Samsung is currently introducing a repair mode for new devices so that users can back up their data when taking the device for repair.

    Other manufacturers such as Fairphone or Rephone focus on good repairability and low resource consumption right from the start. But they still don’t reach the broad masses with their offers.

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