Your tech devices could get an extra warranty year in the EU

Galaxy S23 hands-on
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The European Union has been tackling the device repair market for quite some time. And now, it's making clear that companies must do right by consumers.

The EU's parliament on Tuesday (Apr. 23) voted to support a broad right to repair and warranty bill that paves the way for sweeping changes in how manufacturers and product sellers provide support for their devices. The new rules will now require that all manufacturers provide "timely and cost-effective repair services." Instead of being forced to offer warranties for two years, companies will now be required to enforce warranties on all products for three years.

Interestingly, even after that three-year period expires, manufacturers will still be required to provide repair services on what the parliament calls "common household products," which, as of this writing, includes washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and smartphones. The EU cautioned it could expand the list of household products in the future.

While the EU stopped short of manufacturers providing free repair services in every case, they will be required to provide such services at an affordable rate and won't be allowed to skirt the laws with fancy legal language.

The parliament said in a statement that "Manufacturers will have to provide spare parts and tools at a reasonable price and will be prohibited from using contractual clauses, hardware or software techniques that obstruct repairs." 

The EU specifically said that manufacturers will not be allowed to use second-hand or 3D-printed spare parts to repair products, and they'll also be banned from saying they can't repair a device "because it was previously repaired by someone else."

As the number of electronics manufactured each year continues to swell, companies have been seeking ways to reduce their liability after a product is sold. In many cases, they try to limit warranties, reduce repair windows, and ultimately make it onerous enough for a customer to get a repair that they instead decide to buy a new unit.

The EU's initiative this week aims to address that. Indeed, the parliament said in a statement that it believes the new rules will create a fairer market for consumers and encourage them to repair their products rather than opt for new devices. Perhaps most importantly, the EU argues that the rules will reduce the cost of repairs.

But whether that will happen remains to be seen, and there's plenty left to do before the program actually gets off the ground. The EU said that it next plans to launch an "online platform" where consumers across all the member states will be able to "easily find local repair shops, sellers of refurbished goods, buyers of defective items or community-led repair initiatives, such as repair cafes."

The new legislation also requires that all member states enact the legislation as national law within two years.

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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.