Failure is not an Option… It’s a Standard Feature!

When making big-ticket buying decisions, one factor that should be considered is repairability. When buying a car, you might look at cost of service and repair after the warranty expires. You might read reviews on reliability.

Do we ever consider repairs when buying tech products? We probably should. Too many folks just throw things like phones away when they break, adding to consumer waste and cluttering up landfills with valuable stuff.

A serious problem sometimes arises when we decide to take our phone, laptop or other how-to-repair-broken-laptop-screenselectronic product to an independent shop for repairs, however. Some manufacturers, notably Toshiba and Apple, treat their service and repair documentation like it’s a matter of National $ecurity, and refuse to release it to anyone but an “Authorized Repair Facility.” You probably know what that mean$.  Unless it’s under warranty, it’ll cost way too much to fix.

The automotive world is under the constraints of a Federal law that forces them to make service manuals available to independent shops and do-it-yourselfers. It’s a great pity they didn’t choose to do the right thing without needing to be forced; I would happily give my business to a car company that made factory service manuals available.

Well, there is no similar law forcing tech companies to make their service manuals available, and I’m not suggesting we need more laws. What I think we do need is customers that are willing to vote with their feet and refuse to buy things that may be non-repairable simply because of a lack of data.

One hopeful sign is the emergence of websites like Ifixit.com. The only club the manufacturers have for beating you over the head is the copyright on their manuals. If someone on the outside has the audacity to take a product apart and write their own manual, there is nothing the manufacturer can do about it. That’s what Ifixit does, and that’s how small shops like mine can stay in business. Support them if you can, and you’ll be helping me, too.

HP, Dell, and Lenovo (Formerly IBM) all make service manuals available free of charge on their websites. Until things change, I will recommend these brands over either Apple or Toshiba products.

Apple: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/03/28/ios_repairs/

Toshiba: http://www.wired.com/2012/11/cease-and-desist-manuals-planned-obsolescence/

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