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BOSTON -- On Wednesday, U.S. PIRG delivered a petition with 6,927 signatures to Google, calling for an end to the company’s ban on electronics repair ads. Independent repair shops have been banned from purchasing advertisements on Google for nearly a year, while manufacturers -- their competition -- are still allowed to advertise. Originally, Google sought to remove ads for scammers posing as repair or IT service companies, and said that it would create a verification system to allow real shops to resume ads. But instead, the company blocked all repair and service company ads.
“Independent repair is critical for consumers. Repair options help consumers save money and reduce electronic waste,” said Nathan Proctor, director of U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign. “It’s not fair that these important small businesses are getting hurt because Google hasn’t figured out how to deal with fake ads.”
Without the option to purchase ads, repair shops are having a harder time becoming visible to consumers who seek local repair options. Independent shop owners attested that they had seen a 5 to 70 percent drop in revenue after the ban went into effect. We view independent repair as essential, and are deeply troubled by Google’s approach.
“Google’s heartless ban on repair ads has already sent some repair shops under,” said Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, which represents hundreds of repair shops and supported the petition. “In the middle of a pandemic, when foot traffic is almost nil, how are you supposed to reach customers?”
Lack of repair options has significant consequences, especially for electronic devices. Electronic waste is the fastest growing wastestream in the world – while it only accounts for 2 percent of landfill space, it accounts for 70 percent of toxicity. Trashing a repairable device means adding heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium to landfills.
The petition (available here) was delivered to the House Subcommittee on Antitrust and Federal Trade Commission, as well to Google.
“It defies logic to believe that a company with the knowledge and technology of Google would be incapable of coming up with a way to post real repair shop ads while preventing scams,” said Proctor.
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