/ Sustainability

New right to repair rules: what do you think?

New rules to make household appliances more sustainable have been announced by the EU, but will they end up benefitting consumers?

11/06/2021: Rules to be implemented this month

In March, the EU introduced measures to promote the repairability of products. This month, the UK government is planning to match those standards.

Here’s what you can expect from the new laws, which the government says will reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated each year.

04/10/2019: New rules announced

Originally written by Melissa Massey

As part of a continued effort to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and to make energy bills cheaper for European consumers, new ‘right to repair’ rules have been announced.

From 2021, EU firms – and any UK firms wishing to sell to the EU market – will have to make products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions longer-lasting.

Under the new standards, manufacturers will have to supply spare parts for these household appliances for up to 10 years.

The manufacturers must ensure spare parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools, without permanent damage to the appliance.

But under the new rules, only professional repairers – not consumers – will be supported by manufacturers to carry out the repairs.

Should we all have the right to repair?

Are the repair rules good or bad?

There’s been a long-standing view that new products just don’t last as long as they used to, with built-in obsolescence a growing concern for many.

As a result, the call for white goods to last longer than a couple of years is one which will surely be welcome news to most consumers.

But what about those of us who want to save time and money by purchasing our own spare parts and mending our own goods?

The pace of change in the industry, which now includes many products which have intricately mixed and increasingly complex digital and physical components, means many owners are usually either unable to source the right parts or repair the machines themselves.

Replace vs repair

Finding a professional repairer to carry out the fix at a decent price is often difficult. This means many turn to a replacement rather than a repair.

And we all know getting a replacement after a short while is just as wasteful from an environmental standpoint as it is a waste of money.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that warranties and guarantees can sometimes be more generous than your statutory rights, and give you an extra option to resolve problems with a product.

Ultimately the move to improve the longevity of white goods could be positive, but the monopoly on who repairs is a concern – especially if it’s going to become impossible for consumers to perform what would have been simple fixes themselves.

With all that in mind, what do you make of the new rules? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments

Grrr. I don’t function well without coffee!

This morning my trusty De Longhi coffee maker would not power on – dead set. Fuse is ok, supply is ok… By the position of the infuser it is as if it failed part way through an auto power down cycle – the mechanism is half way. It’s getting on a bit so I feared what I might find when taking the plastic side and rear panels off for a peep. Well… no burnouts, no stripped gears, no obvious leaks… A quick wade through with the Avo confirms the mains filter and double pole isolator main switch are doing fine and 240 is reaching the power board – but the power board is doing nothing. Not a glimmer.

I had expected to write it off, but the boards are available for just over £50 – so I will repair it in slower time, clean it up – and have a go-to spare machine. I’d love to clean it up now, but infuriatingly unless I rig 240 to the main motor and send it manually around on the rest of its cycle, the bits I need to take out are stuck fast. If the PCB was going to take more than a couple of weeks to arrive I’d maker the effort, but it can wait.

But now to order a new one – identical if I can find it. Tried and tested – and long lived.

My twin-wall stainless steel cafetière is still going strong (and weak) after many years of use without the need for motors, gears, pcbs, or a plug. 🙂

I have just bought my son a Krupps burr coffee grinder (and a pack of beans) for his birthday. A Which? Best Buy it looks a versatile and useful relatively inexpensive kitchen appliance. If it gets good reports from him I may just invest in one for myself.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the exact model of coffee maker I bought in 2012 is still a current offering. £350 give or take a few coppers from Amazon – but if I don’t mind a customer return (buyers’ remorse) with a split box, £250 – and that’s what I ordered. The option of manually grinding beans and a cafetiere (with or without the grave) is an excellent alternative – but less good (unless you have loads of them) when you have company.

Good news, Roger. If it came from Amazon Warehouse I believe the guarantee is more restricted than buying “virgin” version. But, for £100 saving it sounds a best buy and, given your experience, the guarantee will not be needed. Keep the old one for spares or try to repair it and have two for big gatherings?

I was bequeathed a collection of 78records a few years ago but have never been able to play them as my turntable, like most, only plays eps and lps. The few I looked at that did play 78s were either rubbish or very expensive. However, a visit the other day to JLP for childrens’ shoes included a visit to the hifi department where an Audio Technica was on display that played three speeds – 33, 45 and 78. On display – but not in stock. Fired up by the prospect of hearing some historic recordings at last I avoided an open box/scratched cover on offer at Richer Sounds, and found a brand new one for just £17 more – and the same price as JLP who were cheapest of everyone -from a retailer in Birmingham. Nothing available from Amazon Warehouse, and all offers on Amazon were £40 more than I paid.

Correct – Amazon Warehouse is limited to 12 months warranty – provided by Amazon. Because of this and the often minuscule savings (sometimes the Warehouse item is more than new), I have never successfully bought anything except consumables, like damaged reams of printer paper. I do draw the line at “used” toilet paper.

I once ordered a damaged box wireless doorbell – described as “Used – Like New”. It was covered in a thick layer of dust and had clearly been on someone’s hall table. The battery compartment was scratched. For the inconvenience of having to return that and order the new version for £1 more, never again!

Well – a further update!

I was at the position above (box-damaged item ordered, £100 saved) but on impulse refreshed the page – and a lightning deal came up on the brand new one – making the box-ripped saving only £40 – so I cancelled the latter and ordered the former.

Just as well I was not a Prime member – their lightning fast pick and dispatch would have kicked in making that swap much more tedious (if not impossible and maybe too expensive to do).

I’m sorry to hear that you are being deprived of proper coffee, Roger. You are lucky to find the same model still available and in your position I would certainly keep the old one for spares. I believe that DeLonghi offer a two year guarantee if the product is registered.

Roger Pittock says: Today 16:28

Just as well I was not a Prime member – their lightning fast pick and dispatch would have kicked in making that swap much more tedious (if not impossible and maybe too expensive to do)?

Actually, it’s just as easy. Several Christmases ago I bought a De’Longhi from my infinitely better half. It was c.£400, and once arrived, it was placed away from curious eyes. About a week later there was a lightning price drop on exactly the same machine – of more than £120.

I intermediately ordered the new machine, then contacted Amazon to tall them I wanted them to collect the one just delivered. They did so, about two days later. No charge and no fuss.

What a crazy world we live in – a simple financial adjustment would have saved a lot of overheads.

Although these days less of a problem, in the past arranging collection and delivery was quite an event. I presume one cannot instigate returns via their locker system in the same (actually opposite) way one can collect?

Absolutely, Wavechange. I will repair it – and keep it as a going concern. However, if spares become unavailable I wouldn’t hesitate to use one to keep the other going.

What I wonder is how such large price drops or discounts can be given. We see this with Dyson, as an example, but many other products where prices on offer differ substantially. It is difficult to decide the worth of a product and when the manufacturer is just profiteering.

Products are often cheaper when they are first available and become cheaper with time. With a mobile phone it’s best to buy soon after launch because this will mean that you will benefit from security updates for longer. With most other products buying when the price has fallen or the product has been discontinued but is still available can be a good choice can be the best approach. Some retailers such as Richer Sounds seem to focus on selling older designs and discontinued models at sensible prices.

I see that my coffee maker is still available, but at around £100 less than what I paid two or three years ago. Never mind, I have enjoyed some very good coffee in the meantime.

Dyson comes in for a lot of criticism but I admire their innovation, and they seem to have helped prevent the vacuum cleaner market becoming dominated by low quality products to the extent that has happened with white goods.

New machine arrived, set up, coffee made – and sampled. Machine registered on DeLonghi site (I had to start a new account – my DeLonghi account is another in the long line of which.net email accounts which has become fugitive).

Reassuringly it makes an identical cadence of noises that the failed machine made – but is much quieter (still noisy of course but….). I conclude therefore the mechanism is identical, but with fresh lubrication and not worn.

Hopefully it will serve you well, Roger. I have an old manual pressure coffee maker in reserve in case one day I do not hear the required sequence of sounds that announce that coffee is coming.

I’ve decided not to fork out £54 to repair the old one. There is appreciable play in some of the pin bearings, cam drives and a little shaft scuffing (indicating other bearing wear that I cannot immediately see) – and although no leaks, I am concerned that things are getting old and worn. I will keep it for spares though.

My son has a similar problem with an old commercial Honda rotary lawn mower. The top end of the crankshaft carrying the flywheel has worn the bearing in a slightly asymmetric way; when I say bearing it seems to be a hole with oilways in the casing with no apparent replaceable part. Because decent mowers are very expensive he is going to attempt to rebore the casing and build up the crankshaft as a last resort, rather than just scrapping it. Not too hopeful of a good result but nothing to lose.

I’d skim the lowest crank main bearing until all ovality just removed and no more, bore out the case and make a filler piece to bolt or weld to the case that is a honeymoon fit to the crank (half a thou diametrical clearance). Building up the crank is too complex with oil ways)! If the casing has no depth to spare, make the filler piece interference fit with the case at room temperature, freeze it for a few hours and then drift it in (waiting for things to equalise before slipping it over the shaft). You may even be able to find stock Oylite tubing that matches the new shaft diameter….

I assume there is a lipped oil seal over the shaft below this bearing? May have to drill out the liner radially in a couple of places to allow oil return.

The oilways seem to be in the housing, not the crankshaft. There is an oil seal.

Overhead camshafts in 1970s Honda motorcycles used to run directly in horizontally split cylinder heads. Similar wear problems would occur. One enterprising UK firm called Jock Kerr did offer to remedy this by converting the plain bearings to shell bearings.

Most mowers other than ride-on ones have no oil pump or filter and rely on splash lubrication of bearings. Without an oil filter, metal particles accumulate in the oil and will cause wear, which is why it’s important to change the oil frequently.