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Emma Horst-Martz
Advocate

Author: Emma Horst-Martz

Advocate

(215) 906-4476

B.A., cum laude, Connecticut College 
Started on staff: 2018

Emma runs campaigns and organizational work across the state. She enjoys spending time at public parks and running trails and going down the shore with her family.

Imagine spilling coffee on your phone, or cracking your screen, or just getting some gunk under one of the buttons. Not great, but accidents happen! Now you just need to get it fixed. 

If this sounds familiar, you may also recall a needlessly difficult process to fix your device. You may have encountered manufacturer-imposed restrictions on tools and repair parts, which limited your options. This is common, and it forces consumers to go to a "manufacturer- authorized" servicer, which leads to higher repair costs and, infuriatingly, often the need to just buy a completely new device. 

It turns out that Pennsylvanians are fed up with this. According to a recently conducted survey, a vast majority of Pennsylvanians support the “Right to Repair,” a movement that aims to fix this broken system.

Right to Repair laws would require manufacturers of electronic devices, appliances, agricultural equipment and medical equipment to make repair information, parts, tools and software available to consumers and independent fixers. This means lower costs, more competition in the repair market, and fewer headaches. It also means fewer devices being trashed, and less toxic e-waste.

Here are a few of the main takeaways from our survey on Right to Repair:

1. A bipartisan majority of Pennsylvanians support laws that expand the Right to Repair.

Of all respondents, 68% support the Right to Repair, including 74% of Democrats, 60% of Republicans, and 64% of Independents. Only 9% of all respondents oppose the Right to Repair.

2. 64% of respondents without previous knowledge of Right to Repair support it after learning what it means.

While the feelings of frustration and helplessness when trying to fix a broken device feel universal, 49% of survey respondents had not actually heard of Right to Repair before taking the survey. Once this group learned about the issue, they overwhelmingly supported Right to Repair. 

This confirms the nearly-universal appeal of Right to Repair: Those with no knowledge of the issue quickly support it once they learn what it means.

3. 51% of respondents indicate would be more likely to vote for candidate if they support Right to Repair

Most respondents also indicated that this support would affect their vote at the ballot box: 51% say that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate if that candidate supports Right to Repair. While only 10% would be less likely to vote for that candidate.

So what does this mean?

With the majority of Pennsylvanians in support of Right to Repair, this is an issue that our legislators should prioritize. 

In Pennsylvania, one legislator doing just that is Senator Elder Vogel, who has introduced SB 998 to give Pennsylvanians what they need to fix electronics and other devices and keep them off the scrap heap.

But the momentum surrounding this issue goes beyond Pennsylvania. Over the summer, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for the Federal Trade Commission to prevent manufacturers from restricting people from fixing their own equipment and devices. Manufacturers have made a variety of arguments defending their repair restrictions including: proprietary information, trade secrets, safety, security and even environmental protection. These arguments were repeated during the hearing, but a 2021 unanimous Federal Trade Commission report found “scant evidence” justifying repair restrictions. 

As more people learn about these efforts and new laws, the support for Right to Repair will only increase. As that happens, PennPIRG will be there to continue the fight for our right to fix our own things.

Footnote on Methodology: PennPIRG conducted this survey via Survey Monkey with a sample of 201 Californians. More details on data collected and questions asked can be found here.

Emma Horst-Martz
Advocate

Author: Emma Horst-Martz

Advocate

(215) 906-4476

B.A., cum laude, Connecticut College 
Started on staff: 2018

Emma runs campaigns and organizational work across the state. She enjoys spending time at public parks and running trails and going down the shore with her family.