Remove hurdles to fostering a repair culture

Corporations should contribute towards saving the planet and support customers' right to make their own repairs.

Recently, my Samsung microwave oven became inoperable.

Being an active volunteer of an organisation that repairs items for the public, I decided to do my own repair work.

While troubleshooting, I found that the problem was with the control panel. It appeared that the membrane of the touch screen panel had become insensitive, effectively rendering the microwave oven useless.

As the warranty period had already expired, the obvious choice was for me to purchase a new control panel from Samsung.

However, I was told by the management that it is not Samsung's policy to supply spare parts for the microwave oven to customers.

Instead, they will be provided only if a technician is assigned for the repair work, which will incur additional evaluation and labour charges.

If the cost of repair exceeds the price of a new appliance, most people will choose to dump the faulty appliance into the bin and buy a new one instead. How are we going to save the planet if this is the kind of culture we are promoting?

Many corporations seem to have such a rule as well.

In most cases, the customers will accede to this rule because of their lack of knowledge in repairing items. It is also probably more convenient for them to engage a technician.

However, it is obvious to me that the management does not have any intention of supporting customers who have the expertise and can do their own repair work.

The issue is this: If the cost of repair exceeds the price of a new appliance, most people will choose to dump the faulty appliance into the bin and buy a new one instead.

How are we going to save the planet if this is the kind of culture we are promoting?

I have been very impressed with some of the movements overseas, where the customers have the right to repair their own equipment if they choose to do so.

This is the only long-term sustainable solution for the world.

Liu Ming Ching

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2017, with the headline 'Remove hurdles to fostering a repair culture'. Print Edition | Subscribe