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Three quarters of Canadians want regulatory repair for repairable electronics: survey

The Computie Electronics Recycling Center in Vancouver is where broken gadgets are given a second chance.

Stacks of laptops, rows of desk towers and motherboard boxes fill the cramped layer. Staff technicians do their best to renovate the units, save what parts they can and recover the rest.

Every year it seems to be much more difficult.

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"The [companies] tailor all parts just for their one or two products, says Elon Zhang, a repair technician. "It is frustrating."

Zhang said that leading technology companies like Apple and Toshiba are heading towards their own tools and parts: Internal components, once modular and universal, were now soldered together.

The shift has made upgrading and repairing devices more difficult for experts and almost impossible for the average consumer.

A new study by the Innovative Research Group found that many Canadians are throwing their technology away when problems that can be solved normally arise.

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Nearly half of those asked, 44 percent, said they had discarded or replaced a unit due to a broken screen, while 42 percent gave up on their gadget due to a weak or dead battery.

"Companies do not intentionally do themselves for technical reasons, but only to make it difficult, so they can control their repair services," said Rodrigo Samayoa, digital operator of OpenMedia, who coordinated the survey.

The other co-sponsor, iFixit, is well known for buying the latest devices, breaking them down and sending do-it-yourself repair videos online.

The two groups have pushed for "right to repair" legislation to be adopted in the US and hope to fix things in Canada as well.

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"Manufacturers should be required to release repair information for products they sell," Samayoa said.

Samayoa said similar legislation was adopted in the automotive industry, which has given mechanics the knowledge and tools to repair vehicles of all brands and models.

Seventy-five percent of Canadians asked that they support the "right to repair" legislation in Canada.

Nearly 12,000 people have written a petition that will be sent to the Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains.

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Zhang said it often takes half a dozen tools just to open up some new devices, only to find that there is little he can do but recover the parts for the metals.

While he enjoys the challenge, he knows something as simple as a battery exchange should not be so difficult.

"Ninety-five percent of people, we're just customers," Zhang said. "We just try to use things longer."

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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