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This week we’ve been celebrating London Repair Week by highlighting the heroic repair businesses all over the city. Our directory of repair shops, LondonRepairs.org, was recently relaunched with a new dedicated website. Here you can find over 300 reliable businesses to fix your stuff. In this month’s podcast, we spoke to two of these repairers about their passion for fixing, the barriers to their work and what could revitalise the repair economy.
Meet the businesses
Junaid Syed is one half of the team of brothers that run Holborn-based Saras Fix. Having grown up repairing and fixing computers in their mother’s school, they have a lifetime of experience to draw on when fixing customers’ electronics. He recounts a very memorable repair that he performed during the lockdown, when he had to take a risk that absolutely paid off and helped someone in need.
Xenis Stylianou has been in the electronics repair trade for over 30 years and runs his business, Zen’s Electronics Workshop near Finsbury Park. Having learned his trade through training schemes and skilling up with different engineers, he explains how difficult it is to gain experience this way nowadays. He believes that a lot more support for professional repair is needed, especially in terms of training paths and apprenticeships, otherwise we risk losing these essential skills to time.
The state of repair today
With so many decades of fixing experience, Xenis can give us a first hand account of how things have changed. Speaking on his area of expertise of audio-visual equipment, he tells us that not only has everything become harder to open, and therefore repair, but also products are being produced at much lower quality than in decades past.
“It’s a top down thing…over time manufacturers have actually reduced their build quality to come in line with the cheaper brands. And because now everything’s built to cost, the engineer at the other end repairing the equipment is not taken into consideration anymore.”
Both Junaid and Xenis agree that the various barriers that manufacturers put on repair are not only affecting the operation of repair businesses but also the customer’s autonomy to make choices about their device.
Keeping repair alive
So, if being a professional repairer is so challenging, how do they find the drive to keep it up? Xenis and Junaid care about their customers and reducing electronic waste.
Junaid describes it as “giving back a second life to the broken devices which would’ve ended up in a landfill” and it’s an aspect of repair that he’s incredibly passionate about. He also regularly volunteers at repair events, donating his time and years of experience to help people learn to repair their own stuff. No matter if people want to try to repair their stuff at home or bring it straight to a professional, he stresses that London’s repair businesses are here to help.
[Photo courtesy of Saras Fix and Zen’s Electronics Workshop]