Report:

What are Illinoisans Fixing?

Released by: Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Here in Illinois, we want to fix our stuff – even during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As people try to stay at home as much as possible, it’s more important than ever that our home  appliances and devices are working. From kitchen appliances to laptops, gaming systems and  televisions, our tech helps us stay home, stay safe, and stay sane.  

But inevitably, things break or don’t work right. You could throw it away, but don’t want to be  wasteful, and money is tight in this economy. In addition, due to supply chain disruptions and  store closures, you might have difficulty finding some devices to buy, especially in the spring  and summer of 2020.iInstead, you try to get your device fixed or to fix it yourself.  

According to a review of data from iFixit, which describes itself as the “repair guide for everything, written by everyone,” 2.2 million unique users from Illinois went to www.iFixit.com to look up how to repair something in 2020.  

Of those visitors, the top ten device types that Illinoisans attempted to fix were cell phones, laptops, gaming consoles, automobiles, tablets, desktop computers, smart watches, vacuums, clothing, and speakers. Cell phone repair guides were the most popular, receiving 21 percent of all the page views. Laptops were second, receiving 16 percent. 

According to the repair shop owners and repair industry experts we interviewed, the pandemic also changed which devices we took to repair shops. We interviewed ten repair shop owners, seven of which reported an increase in business during the pandemic. They repaired more gaming consoles and computers than normal, and their customers were eager to get their devices fixed quickly. 

Repair cuts waste, saves consumers money, and also promotes resilience that helps us manage a  pandemic. Even as repairing our devices for learning and working became critical to staying  safe, 6 of the top 10 most popular manufacturers of devices that Illinoisans were trying to fix restrict access to parts and service information – including the top five. Repair is popular, but  the makers of the devices we most want to fix restrict access to what we need, underscoring the  importance of Right to Repair reforms. 

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