EE now offers in-store repairs for both customers and non-customers alike, hoping the promise of a speedy fix from a trusted provider with trained technicians will inspire confidence among customers who might otherwise replace their device.
Growing awareness of electronic waste and the rising cost of new smartphones have provided a boost to high street repair services in recent years. But EE says its research show 60% of users would still rather get a new handset than mend their existing one.
‘Separation anxiety’ is cited as a major factor behind this trend, with customers unable or unwilling to be disconnected for the time it takes to fix a phone.
EE in-store repairs
EE says most handsets can be fixed within two hours and is creating a network of stores that can provide same day or next day services. Three stores – Bluewater, Nottingham and Portsmouth – can now fix devices on site and there are plans to expand to another two stores early next year and 25 by the end of 2021. Other stores located within a 20 mile radius of these ‘hubs’ will be able to send devices for repair.
There are some limitations. Only Apple, Google, Huawei and Samsung devices are covered, but EE says this accounts for 72% of all devices used by its customers. It also stresses that technicians provided by partner SBE specialise in these manufacturers.
Some phones don’t even need to be repaired at all. A wireless device test can detect issues with sotware, storage, camera and battery within ten minutes and can be resolved immediately. So far, EE has run checks for 40,000 customers and resolved 1,800 faults.
“Our retail stores play a critical role in keeping people connected to their family and friends, especially during these challenging times,” said Sharon Spilsbury, Channel Strategy and Operations Director at EE.
“We know our customers don’t like to be without their devices for long, and our in store repair service will keep separation anxiety to a minimum. We also encourage regular phone checks to reduce the need for repair which we offer in store to help anyone on any network.”
The market for device repairs is not just being driven by thriftiness but also by a desire to make the mobile industry more sustainable. There have been concerns that mobile phones and tablets are designed in such a way that makes them difficult to fix.
Combined with low recycling levels, this means many potentially usable devices and rare elements are not returned to the supply chain, exacerbating the issues of carbon emissions, mining, and electronic waste.
According to the United Nations, the world produces almost 50 million tonnes of e-Waste every year. Only a fifth of this is responsibly recycled, meaning materials that are harmful to humans and can contaminate soil and food supplies are released into the environment.
The EU wants to introduce legislation that provides citizens with the ‘right to repair’ smartphones and tablets as early as 2021.