Repair Business Under Repair?

Home repairs
Posted at 5:45 AM, Oct 20, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:56:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- What do you do when the coffee pot stops brewing or the laptop goes haywire? Do you fix it or go buy new? Angie's List recently reviewed records over the past decade to see if the repair industry itself is in need of repair. The answer might surprise you.

Just consider it a convenient excuse to upgrade!  Buying disposable products actually dates back to the 1950s, but did we really become a throw-away society with no room for repair?

"You might be surprised to find out that the repair industry is doing just fine. Across the 30 categories related to repair over the last 10 years, they're holding steady or even growing," said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

U.S. Bureau of Labor stats show virtually no change in employment with the repair industry.  And Angie's List records indicate a steady stream of repair jobs for things like gas grills and musical instruments.

Repairs for screens, large appliances and furniture have dropped only slightly.

"There are a couple of items people tend to replace rather than repair and they include VCRs and watches. Let's face it, VCRs are becoming more outdated, even though I still have one myself. Watches still get repaired periodically, but not as much as they did 10 years ago," said Hicks.

When it comes to electronics and appliances, use this cost-plus-age formula to decide if its best to replace or repair. Replace any item if the repair will cost more than half the price of buying a new one AND if it's nearing the end of its useful life. Apply that logic to expensive clothing and jewelry, too.

"If the consumer made an initial investment in that that was pretty large – not saying a refrigerator – and they can get it fixed for a couple hundred dollars, they may opt to repair," said appliance store manager Ryan Wagner.

When it comes to vacuums specifically, be careful about tossing out that old one too quickly. Research shows a decline in these repairs, but sometimes a work costing as little as $5 can make 10-to-20-year-old machines as good as new.

Remember you can catch the latest Angie's List report every Tuesday morning on WTXL Sunrise.