CHOICE membership

To repair or replace, that is the question



Thanks @TheBBG, you’re right - it’s a change that needs to be driven by culture. Both from business (through extended producer responsibility laws) and from the consumer (through awareness). Things like the (excellent) Story of Stuff video you posted will go a long way in that regard, so thankyou for posting it again.


Here’s an article of interest - farmers are hacking tractors in the US to perform repairs.

“When crunch time comes and we break down, chances are we don’t have time to wait for a dealership employee to show up and fix it.”


I can empathise with the farmers who hack their JD tractor’s software.

I think that there is far too much emphasis on proprietary Intellectual Property in modern equipment. I can understand that some of these businesses have invested heavily to get where they are and want to protect their business at all costs. Unfortunately, this is a very inward looking approach, and prevents innovation, and leapfrogging technologies.

If they took a more encompassing view, they would make this open source, and allow others to experiment (such as the pig gas conversion), and then encompass this innovation into the pool of modifications available to everyone.

Eventually, someone will leapfrog the first development and come out with a ground breaking innovation which will become version 2. The OEM (original equipment manufacturer) could then use v2 as a launchpad to develop the next leap. Etcetera, etcetera.

Again, as I have stated previously elsewhere, there is increasingly an inward looking profit before community approach driven by the USA, which is counterproductive for all societies in the long run.

This is I believe why we are being forced into excessive consumption, & shorter & shorter life-cycles, rather than sustainability, longevity, and repairability.

Excuse me, I’ll be back after I put my soapbox away. :blush:


Thanks @meltam, appreciate the thoughts. It shows how far control of our own products has slipped in some cases.

I think that would have some interesting implications under the law if it’s happening in Australia. For example, if a breakdown affects a harvest and the manufacturer prevents repair.


An interesting legal case related to third-party repairs for iPhones and consumer rights under the law.

“Consumer guarantee rights under the Australian Consumer Law exist independently of any manufacturer’s warranty and are not extinguished simply because a consumer has goods repaired by a third party,” says Rod Sims, chair of the ACCC.



They also require parts to be available for the life of the appliance. And repairers who know how to fix that appliance.



I very much lean towards buying quality items and keeping them for as long as possible.
Mentioned in this thread is the idea of wanting the features of an updated item, leading many to update products (even if the original still works). I don’t find it hard to think about what’s good enough, rather than focussing on new features and how "nice"they would be to have. but then I’m not that interested in material possessions for their own sake, or to “make me happy”. The fact that I don’t watch TV or see ads (I do watch streaming video) probably helps sine I’m often not even aware of new products or their “features”. Then again, I deliberately avoid ads and don’t like shopping (including window shopping), so it could be chicken or egg.

Will every purchase, repair or update, I am also very aware of the resources used to make, transport and dispose of an item, and that influences every purchase too. I hear friends talk about how wonderful it is that a certain product (e.g. a microwave) is so cheap, and easy to replace, but I can’t help thinking how counter-productive that is, y encouraging consumerism, not valuing quality, and that no-one is paying for the pollution costs (or building, transporting or disposing of items) or the waste of resources these cheap items necessitate.

When buying a fridge a few years ago, my priorities were: reliability and good construction (I want and expect my fridge to last 10-20 years), warranty, power consumption, and good design.

I also buy quality clothes and shoes and wear them to death. I have no interest in fashion. I decide what I want and go looking for it. If I can’t find it, I make it (or modify it or dye it) myself.


Buying a quality item can be very beneficial for the long term.I have been fortunate that i have had no severe problems.One was with my stereo very minor and the Washing Machine that was my fault where to much fluff blocked up after washing some cats bedding lol.


Well, today our microwave oven gave up the ghost in the middle of a popcorn popping session and we had to decide if we wanted to pay for repairs or if we just wanted to buy a new one and be done with it. The warranty on this was well and truly out of date, so there was no option to take it back to the place of purchase for a free repair job. We ended up buying a new one simply because there was less mucking about, We now have a working microwave oven instead of having no oven at all and having to wait for a repair person to see what’s wrong with it, what the replacement parts will cost, and also what his time will cost, even if he just takes a look at the thing. So it was a big swing to the buy a new one option for us today.


My $60 KMart microwave has been working for 5 years without a hitch. There is no way you could even get a repairman to look at one for that price. I recently asked about repairing a much loved coffee grinder and was told by the repair shop that the price for them to look at it was the equivalent price of a new model and any repairs and parts would be extra.


We have a look at the new ‘How Repairable is Your Mobile Device?’ report and offer some repair and recycling advice.


Some interesting ideas for old or unused tech you might have lying around:


We put our old 2009 iMac when we upgraded on the wall in the kitchen simply so my wife can watch catch up shows such as iview or sbs on demand whilst she is doing cooking also it is linked to AirTunes it makes a instant music library for an almost infinite amount of songs.
Early gen iPods and iPhones are in the glove box of the family cars connected to the car stereo via usb and we can have hundred of hours of our preferred music when driving and not bothering to listen to any radio station with their pontificating insufferable talkback hosts or the music stations with 1 song to every 5 adverts.


Farmers are fighting large manufacturers for the right to access diagnostic software that contains the info needed to make repairs:


My washing machine was 25 years old when it decided it had serviced me for long enough. With the technology used in washing machines now, there was no question as to whether I was going to repair or replace; replace it had to be. I chose an LG 8.5kg machine. I can Program many different washes, and it plays a lovely little tune to let me know when my wash is ready for the clothesline. I just love my new machine


I’ve read a variety of the externally published commentary re the JD example. Why not, I too own a tractor. Just not a JD.

An interesting contrast to how support for plant and machinery is provided to big corporates, eg Mining Companies.

There are lots of explanations as to why certain customers are treated differently. BHP and others get all the IP and knowledge they need to maintain their equipment. Deal or No Deal? They would likely argue it is both an economic and safety outcome that as owners they need a high level of detail to operate and maintain their plant/equipment. It can be argued that transfer of the necessary information is mandated by the OHS/WHS legislation in most states.

The arguement that only JD can maintain or repair your tractor is a hollow one! It depends on the task, complexity and skill level of the owner, However JD and most other manufacturers are using this against all owners for nearly all tasks. That some owners don’t have the skill set to do some of the tasks is used as an excuse to deny all owners any knowledge and limit their ability to diagnose or repair their owned equipment.

Similarilly for everyday household white goods, a lack of shared or public knowledge is the common enemy.

Many repairs are only cost effective if you get the labour for free!

I’ve chosen to repair two major kitchen appliances in the previous 3 years. One a dish washer had a control card fault. Principally due to the cost (two call out fees plus labour) of not living in a major urban centre with a service agent next door. I got lucky and found the fault codes and a diagnostic control sequence on an overseas web page.
The other a corroded burner in a gas oven because none of the local gas fitters were interested. Awkward and time consuming. I’d much prefer to have paid for this awkward inaccessible job to be done.

Tractor or dish washer the issues are the same.

The greatest difficulty is not in understanding how something works, nor in having the necessary skill level. It’s access to the detail specific to each model, and where to test or measure or observe a function. And to know what the pass/fail criteria or measurement is.

The designers determine the required performance of each component or assembly and produces a diagnostic guide for factory functional testing. The guide directs you to the test points, signs, behaviours expected. For most failures that is all that is required. Typically the workers doing these diagnostic and replacement repairs in the factory are just that - factory workers. There is limited scope for expensive technicians on $100 per hour plus call out and mileage.

The weak counter is that the manufacturer and designer are simply protecting their liability due to incompetent repair. Of course protecting the information may contrary to this arguement increase the risk of errors in maintenance and repair.

And in many instances for Australia the importer or agent may also be intent on protecting or enhancing their commercial interests.

Both the sellers/manufacturers and for higher value items the authorised repairers have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Hopefully the leaky web that provides the missing information remain active and not restricted in a similar way to pirated media content?


I’ve found F&P to be helpful in supplying parts for the couple of times I’ve repaired our old dishwasher. I told them over the phone what parts I needed, display/control unit and some rubber pipes and a pump. They were happy to send them to me after payment.


Similar previous experience with F&P. Their service for a back order sent via post worked wonderfully. And was an even more remarkable achievement for Australia Post.

Did not even need to transpose vowels. Otherwise those long alpha numerical part no’s can go terribly wrong.

Over the previous decade we’ve been more than satisfied with the F&P products we’ve purchased. Only one repair. More so than previous similar products from LG with numerous warranty and performance issues.