An appliance that breaks down can quickly put the brakes on the flow of consumers’ lives. A refrigerator that isn’t working properly could mean spoiled food. A malfunctioning heater or air conditioner can lead to discomfort or health issues. When a laundry appliance breaks, the clothes start to pile up.
Most consumers won’t hesitate to call a service provider as soon as the problem occurs. But not all appliance repair services are created equal. Authorized service providers are specially trained to service specific appliance brands and models. This means they have access to both the knowledge and the necessary parts, technical information and, in some cases, software to fix what’s wrong with the appliance.
Consumers’ choice of service providers can have major implications for their appliance’s safety, and security. Authorized service providers are required to make repairs with parts and equipment that have been tested and meet specific safety and reliability requirements specified by manufacturers. Service providers that are not authorized may use substitutes that don’t meet the same rigorous requirements. That, combined with the fact that the service provider may not have proper training on installation, can create safety risks. Of course, consumers can make the choice that is right for them. But they should be aware of potential warranty implications, regardless of the service provider, should the repair go wrong. That means that the cost of any future repairs that might have been covered under the warranty could now be the consumer’s responsibility.
The development of smart and connected appliances mean consumers must keep electronic security in mind. Servicing smart and connected appliances requires special training and access to information that manufacturers make available only to authorized providers. Anyone servicing a smart or connected appliance could potentially expose a gateway to the appliance owner’s electronic network. This means a hacker would have an easy path not just to the connected appliance, but into the entire network. Any sensitive information —personal, professional or financial — could then be accessed and stolen.
Several U.S. states and Canadian provinces have recently considered legislation that would require manufacturers to provide all service personnel with the same repair-related information, software and tools that they provide to authorized service providers. AHAM opposes these bills, known as “fair repair” or “right to repair” legislation, as it would require manufacturers to release sensitive, proprietary information and potentially expose consumers to safety and security risks. AHAM remains engaged at the state and provincial levels to oppose future bills.