Late last year the Productivity Commission released an issues paper for their inquiry into a consumers’ ability to repair faulty goods and to access repair services at a competitive price. This is an issue that’s close to my heart, the practice of OEM’s restricting access to basic settings in equipment and charging inordinate amounts for “authorised service” was one of the contributing factors to starting Power Protect and something that guides which manufacturers we do business with, and what products we promote to our customers.
I still remember the moment, as a Field Service Engineer for a multi-national equipment manufacturer, trying to explain to the customer that I wasn’t that one that set the pricing or made it so I had to plug a laptop in to clear an alarm. But there I was, taking the brunt of the customer’s frustration, while they forked out for a substantial expense that they really shouldn’t have had to incur.
A lot of these manufacturers will cite intellectual property as the reason for so tightly restricting their proprietary software but the reality is this software is just the means of resetting alarms and making minor setting changes.
Many years ago I was warned that I was “making a rod for my own back” by dealing with a particular manufacturer. This prediction came true when for no reason other than completing service training on behalf of another vendor the manufacturer cut our access to their proprietary software and with that limited our ability to support the products we had supplied to our customers. To this day we’ve retained and supported those customers because it is the support of our company that they value not the name on the badge on the front of the equipment.
I’ve made my submission in support of Right to Repair legislation that I hope will limit these restrictive practices used by OEMs to ‘capture’ the service market for their products. I encourage anyone who feels the same to provide a submission or brief comment via the feedback portal.
Today, the ability to provide ongoing support without the restrictions of proprietary software is a key criteria for Power Protect in selecting whose products we take to market. In fact, in the unlikely event that customers aren’t happy with our service, there are other companies trained and authorised by the OEM that can provide support on their equipment. I challenge anyone to get the same response from the most of the major equipment manufacturers in our industry.