Everyone’s fighting for the right to repair their own stuff! So here I look at five ways you can repair your electrical goods – and save money.
A week ago the sound finally went on my Monster Beats Mk. 1 Studio headphones and I set out to find ways to repair them. The sound you get from them is terrific whether it’s yet another Zoom meeting or listening to your favourite band.
We may still not have the “right” to repair our own stuff but it’s getting easier with online repair communities and organisations like iFixit making thousands of manuals available for free online.
Broken electronics are problematic because they can lead to toxic e-waste [see my article] and that’s a growing issue. Now criminal gangs are involved in illegal shipments of toxic waste around the world.
The Monster Beats saga
19 July finally got round to taking my Monster Beats to the Apple store for repair. Apple bought the Beats brand a while back, making a very rich man of founder and legendary rapper Dr Dre, and adding to the impressive list of Apple gadgets living under my roof.
I’d been putting up with intermittent sound for about two years because they are great headphones, and also because they were a gift from my wife Sue. And also because I am too mean to pay someone to fix them (also according to my wife).
The first question the nice Apple lady asked me was “how old are they”? Wrong question, surely. That’s ageism! Being more than a year old, they were already out of warranty, she politely informed me.
She needn’t have bothered. I told her we’d had them about twelve years.
“Are they more than five years old?” she asked. Another ageist question, I thought, and also – didn’t she hear my previous answer? By now, without even looking at them Apple had ruled out the idea of offering to fix them.
“They’ll either send them back or it will be cheaper to buy a new one”, she told me.
So Apple don’t seem to believe in their customers’ right to repair. In Apple-land, and electronics-land generally, having an old device is a quasi-criminal act.
having an old device is a quasi-criminal act
Solution #1 – fix it yourself
Believe me I tried that. I love the feeling of satisfaction I get from fixing my own stuff. When twiddling with the cable stopped working I gravitated to WD40 and when that stopped working someone suggested I try WD40 contact cleaner. That worked for a few weeks then I had to admit defeat.
When Sue bought them for me neither of us had any idea who Dr Dre was. To be honest I still don’t. But I loved the sound. Our teenage daughter was somewhat surprised at our choice.
I’m not paranoid but it’s a conspiracy. We live in a world of electronic miracles and something newer, faster, better comes out more or less daily. We want that and Apple certainly do. Respect to Apple founder Steve Jobs – he understood how to make people feel good about themselves.
Trouble is when it’s at the expense of the Planet and future generations.
Solution #2 – the local Repair Café
Now things are returning to some sort of normal, the Repair Cafés are coming back too. Repair Cafés are central to the Right to Repair movement. You can book in your repair and get it looked at and possibly fixed for a voluntary donation. And since I’ve also got a faulty amplifier and a pair of faulty speakers they might be seeing more of me soon.
Solution #3 – Facebook groups
I had no intention of getting rid of this personal gift from my Beloved to suit a tech giant. As Greta would say, “how dare they”! So Sue told me (she wants you to know that) to check out the local community notice board on Facebook.
Within an hour I had two offers. A week later a local guy called Martin (pictured) has already fixed them. I won’t say how much I paid, let’s just say it was considerably less than Apple would have charged had they agreed to repair their own product.
So I’d like to thank Apple for agreeing not to fix my headphones for me. You saved me a fortune!
Solution #4 – pop-up repair parties
All the rage these street pop-up thingies – https://therestartproject.org
Our long-suffering coffee grinder
Why do we want so many shiny new things? Why does it matter? I mean, a year-old car or sofa is pretty much the same as one you took home all nice and shiny a few months ago.
This is our deLonghi coffee grinder and the rubber seal on the lid has stretched and doesn’t quite fit any more. This one comes into a slightly different category as I believe I really do have a chance of fixing this myself.
deLonghi advertise Sales and Repairs on their website but they don’t seem to stock something as humble as a seal for the lid of a blender. It doesn’t appear in their list of spares you can order.
Maybe they mean “we’ll help you fix it if it’s profitable for us to do so”. But what Planet Earth – our abused partner/mother/relative – desperately needs is that I fix it, along with everything else I own that can possibly be fixed.
I posted my plight on a few ‘frugality’ and ‘non-consumer’ boards on Facebook and I was amazed at some of the great ideas I’ve had back – and one slightly coarse idea from a guy called Peter.
Of course not everything can be repaired economically. Read about eco-friendly things to do with your old laptop.
Solution #5 – get your spares online
Ebay naturally springs to mind but there are dozens, probably hundreds of specialist auctions online. Maybe they won’t have the exact part I want but I’m on the lookout for a broken coffee grinder ‘for spares’. Then – who knows – maybe I can put it back in the auction and get my money back.
We’re not sure our coffee grinder is as sharp as it was but if we can keep it in use, that’s the main thing. It’ll have a home somewhere.
Consumerism is all about dissatisfaction but it should be about joy – the joy of owning things, the joy of being in a position to own even something as simple-sounding as a coffee grinder.
I went out looking for the replacement part. It never occurred to me I could fix it. But the responses I got from the Facebook groups got me thinking. Maybe a plumber’s merchant would have a similar part? Maybe I could fix it myself with silicon – I like that one, sounds like a goer.
So, I’m getting all these innovative and interesting ideas from my own Positive Green Living Facebook group and a couple of others, when up pops my sister Lesley – clearly both a coffee fanatic and a hoarder of electronic gadgetry – and offers us a nearly-new DeLonghi coffee grinder, similar to our own model, she’s been keeping in a cupboard. Which we willingly accepted. But I’m still going to fix the other one. I’ll keep you posted.
Join the fight for the right – to repair!
You might also enjoy: Knowing when it’s time to give up and buy a new one