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SB 136: South Dakota’s Seven-Year Spare Parts Guarantee!

Tell Republicans that businesspeople have to respect civil rights, and they go all "Free market! Free speech!" But sell one Republican a fritzy laptop, and it's time for government intrusion in the marketplace.

Senate Bill 136 comes to us from an all-star cast of noisy conservatives: prime sponsor Senator Al Novstrup of Aberdeen is joined by Senators Begalka, Jensen, and Lederman and Reps. Latterell, Craig, Jenna Haggar, Olson, Stalzer, and Stevens, all Republicans. SB 136 requires that manufacturers offering warranties on electronics, appliances, and farm equipment "containing embedded software" make replacement parts and service manuals available on the market for at least seven years after the manufacture date.

SB 136 seems a remarkable prioritization of consumer desires over business owners' rights. Suppose you make computers. You've been building laptops and offering one-year warranties. You see the market changing and decide you want to drop your laptop business and focus on tablets. You faithfully service your remaining laptop customers through their warranty period, then devote your resources to tablet manufacture and service. But Senator Novstrup would force you to maintain costly inventory for another six years. You'd have to keep production equipment and expert staff handy in case you ran out of spare parts before the seven-year mark and had to make more.

Good grief! To recoup those lost profits, you might have to sacrifice your religious liberty and do business with all those gay couples that Senators Jensen and Begalka said you could discriminate against!

I can only imagine that this legislation springs from the outrage of some legislator who found he or she couldn't get a replacement part for a five-year-old computer or fridge. I don't really mind this effort to combat planned obsolescence. But when government dictates economic decisions like manufacturing and inventory, isn't that socialism?

Senate Bill 136 may be good for consumers. But it also demonstrates Republicans' very selective commitment to keeping government out of the free market.


  1. jana 2014.02.05

    Do they not even see their own hypocrisy?

  2. Chris Francis 2014.02.05

    We'd be far better to expand electronic recycling drop-off sites, Madison has one a year, not nearly enough.

  3. Bill Dithmer 2014.02.05

    Ok heres the deal. I'm doing this on a galaxy 3 tablet. Typing sucks but other then that it' fun to use. This one reads text for me but the generation before didn't.

    In the space of less then 18 months there have been three generations of this same device. Samsung doesn't even write a user manual for these anymore because they change so fast.

    The same technology gets cheaper every year. Like that jug of milk in your fridge, when it goes bad, you just have to bite the bullet and get a new one.

    There's no such thing as a freshness guarantee when it comes to electronics. That is one of the reasons that the prices keep going down for equipment that does basically the same thing.

    There are some electrical things that you can still fix, but you can't fix stupid.

    The Blindman

  4. Nick Nemec 2014.02.05

    Does the bill contain an obsolete parts buyback program so that after seven years I can be reimbursed for all the unsold inventory the government has mandated me to keep on hand?

  5. Douglas Wiken 2014.02.05

    Because this comes from a bunch of whining conservatives does not mean it is not in the direction of a good idea. We have a Volvo Station Wagon that is a joy to drive, but the ABS brake system isn't working, so the AWD is not working. Volvo wants a $1000 for three-day access to online info.

    This is actually a federal problem however. Consumer protection ought to imply sensible, reasonable pricing for repair and diagnosis systems. Vehicles, etc without that kind of guarantee should be banned from the US market.

  6. Les 2014.02.05

    Manufacturers may or may not comply but if they do, it will cost more. Just another reason to shop the internet for lower cost out of state, no tax collected purchases.
    A win win for SD business and the SD Dept of Revenue.
    GOED and the legislature representing our fine state with pride!

  7. Les 2014.02.05

    Take it to your local Volvo dealer Doug.

  8. Nick Nemec 2014.02.05

    You raise a good point Doug. The interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution may well prevent a state from forcing this requirement

  9. Richard Schriever 2014.02.05

    I have had no problems getting new-from-the-manufacturer parts for my 27 year-old BMW :)

    A couple years ago - I had an old high-end IBM workstation (well - high-end for1995 anyhow) fry a motherboard. I was able to find a brand-new, still in the original box duplicate on-line for really (I mean REALLY)cheap :) Just had to switch hard drives to the new box and Voila!! - move old critical data to different machine and back-up.

    Don't know what these folks' problems are. I thought Latterell was a tech-guru consultant type. Maybe he's not so sharp as he claims in that area either.

  10. Douglas Wiken 2014.02.05

    Take it to your local Volvo dealer Doug.

    "Local" dealer is in Denver or Minneapolis. We have gotten some useful info from them, but about 50% dead wrong too. We may buy a tester. "Illegal" info is available, but I don't have any desire to be charged with copyright infringement. Older models had printed manuals available. No more. BMW doing same. And probably also Mercedes. Mercedes does guarantee parts availability essentially forever. Our diesel has about 250,000 miles on it, but won't start at these temperatures. Otherwise after we set the valves, replaced vacuum lines, ball joints, driveline bearings, differential, and brake pads, it drives like a new car when it is about 20F.

  11. Les 2014.02.05

    Local was my cynical. W

  12. Les 2014.02.05

    Winner, SD doesn't equal Volvo. There is a great deal of info from online forums etc.

  13. Les 2014.02.05

    What year is the Volvo.

  14. Vincent Gormley 2014.02.06

    There are times when stupid is easy to fix. It's called elections.

  15. Porter Lansing 2014.02.06

    Do these conservative hicks ever leave the prairie? There are more electronics sold in New York or California in one hour than in SoDak all year. Only by watching Fox News does the older angry white male minority come to believe they have the numbers to tell any business what to do by threat of regulation. Apple and Microsoft don't care if the state even knows how to read. Most of what conservative politicians do daily in Pierre is just stalling.

  16. Les 2014.02.06

    What is your age, color and emotional status if it isn't angry PL? Im an older white male, probably a minority. Who are you speaking of in Pierre. At 61.5 I'd say I'm older by ten plus years than the average. Maybe more. I'm maybe even more upset than most of them putting out this junk. Your stereotypical BS reeks of ignorance.

  17. Douglas Wiken 2014.02.06

    Les, Volvo is 92 or 94. Don't have the registration here right now. Station wagon. An accountant had it and he may have been a bit tight-fisted on repairs. Turbo-charged. Too easy to be speeding and not even know it.

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