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Today in Repair

June 24, 2022
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🏍️ FTC Takes Action Against Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse for Illegally Restricting Customers’ Right to Repair

According to the FTC’s complaints, both companies were imposing illegal warranty terms that voided customers’ warranties if they used anyone other than the companies and their authorized dealers to get parts or repairs for their products. The FTC also alleged that Harley-Davidson failed to fully disclose all of the terms of its warranty in a single document, requiring consumers to contact an authorized dealership for full details. The FTC alleges that these terms harm consumers and competition in multiple ways, including:

  • Restricting consumers’ choices: The companies’ warranties improperly implied that as a condition of maintaining warranty coverage, consumers had to use the company’s part or services for any repairs.
  • Costing consumers more money: By telling consumers their warranties will be voided  if they choose third-party parts or repair services, the companies force consumers to use potentially more expensive options provided by the manufacturer.
  • Undercutting independent dealers: By conditioning their warranties on the use of authorized service providers and branded parts, the companies infringed the right of independent repairers.
  • Reducing resiliency: Consumers rely on the companies’ products for emergency power and transportation. (

⚙️ This Vast Farm Salvage Yard in the Middle of Nowhere Saves Farmers with Hard-to-Find Parts

Drive north out of the small central Pennsylvania town of Muncy, alongside the West Branch Susquehanna River, up into the crinkled hills, and you’ll find it: the farm that grows machines. They sprout slowly as you approach: a landscape dotted with balers, manure spreaders, feed grinders, and more lining the old country road. Those errant shoots soon give way to clusters; round the final curve and those clusters explode into fields and fields of old agricultural equipment stretching on almost endlessly, covering the hills in twisted rows, undulating with the terrain and stretching out of sight. 

Fry’s Machinery Inc. doesn’t really grow tools, but it does cultivate something just as valuable as any staple crop: a farmer’s ability to repair their own machines. As the largest farm equipment salvage yard in Pennsylvania (and quite possibly the entire eastern U.S.), Fry’s is a lifeline for smaller farmers in the region seeking hard-to-find parts for a litany of machines as the tools of their trade grow more expensive, more computerized, and ever more difficult to fix. 

Plows, combines, planters, balers, spreaders, choppers, mowers, tractors, and more—that a place like this, so vast and sprawling and organic-feeling, still exists in 2022 feels at least a little bit miraculous. Of course, Fry’s Machinery is no miracle. Instead, it’s the result of one man’s hard work and one family’s dedication amid the larger forces that have reshaped agriculture in America over the last half century. (The Drive)

Grappling With The Paradox Of Less Is More: Trends In Affordability And Sustainability

We are in a moment to reflect on fragile supply chains. Businesses can analyze them for circularity and find places to replace the traditional “take, make, dispose” business model with one instead focused on reusing and recycling materials.

This means exploring new practices such as dynamic pricing, micro-factories and hyper-localized manufacturing. You can also find opportunities to share existing resources versus creating from scratch. As an example, upcycling companies are doing everything from turning leftover bread into beer to making functional furniture from used coffee grounds.

As we start to embrace scarcity in business, we don’t necessarily have to look at it from a loss-making perspective. Boardrooms of the world must come to accept that innovation does not have to mean new and selling less does not have to mean revenue loss—rather, it can be an opportunity to embrace new business models. (Forbes)

Circular Economy or Degrowth?

The circular economy is championed by people like Ellen MacArthur – remember her from sailing around the world? – and is defined by making everything sustainable and reusable. We have an economy that she defines as take-make-waste; we need to move to an economy that is take-make-reuse or, to be more exact, take, make, use, reuse, redistribute, repair, reproduce.

The circular economy is a systems solution framework that tackles global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution. A circular economy decouples economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. It is a resilient system that is good for business, people and the environment.

Degrowth, on the other hand, is a planned reduction of energy and resource use designed to bring the economy back into balance with the living world in a way that reduces inequality and improves human well-being. Sounds good, but is far more radical as it argues we should stop making money out of the planet. Degrowth argues we should prioritise social and ecological wellbeing over corporate profit. That’s difficult for people driven by profit.

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