Recently, a small advocacy group in Nebraska published an op-ed promoting what is commonly known as “Right to Repair” legislation. The group argued that Right to Repair 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 consumers and instead jeopardizes both 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 OEMs can also be purchased by equipment owners and third parties.
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. 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 in Nebraska. It is wrong for our state, our customers and our industry.