I ride my bike past Scott TV repair just about every workday. Sometimes there are television carcasses sitting out front on the sidewalk. Sometimes I can see people moving around inside. Sometimes it’s open. More often it’s not.
A bigger mystery than Scott TV’s business hours is this: Who takes a television in for repair anymore? And perhaps an even more important question: Can a modern television set even be repaired by a local shop?
When ride past Scott TV, I usually think of Mr. Jalopy, who I wrote about last year on my other blog. A leader in the “Makers Movement,” and creator of the “Maker’s Bill of Rights,” Mr. Jalopy has become the standard-bearer for a new generation of workshop tinkerers and inventors. There’s one passage in the Maker’s Bill of Rights that speaks to everyone, even those of us who can’t read a schematic or turn a wrench or use a soldering iron without making a subsequent trip the to the ER. This is it:
“Ease of repair shall be a design ideal, not an afterthought.”
That means even if I’m not capable of repairing something I buy — if Mr. Jalopy’s standard is followed by product designers — there’s a chance someone in my neighborhood probably could. And this presents business opportunities for local folks, who have the skill and equipment to repair consumer products. I think it’s much better than the alternative, which is fretting about how to recycle unrepairable (at least locally) consumer products.
What if these items were designed and manufactured to be serviceable and even upgradable, instead of disposable? What if a slight malfunction meant a trip to a local repair shop instead of a trip to the landfill? Clearly there are many high technology items that cannot be serviced outside of very exacting environments. But there are many others that could be, if they were designed with serviceability in mind.
Knowing that a product could remain functional and useful with locally sourced repair and maintenance would allow consumers to follow another of Mr. Jalopy’s maxims: “Buy your first to be your last.”