Blog #9: Vienna's fixing it... 

March 11 2021
Monika Weber-Fahr
Earlier this month, on March 1, Vienna City re-launched its Reparaturbon Initiative.  The Reparaturbon is one of the many marvels that I am discovering as I learn more about the extraordinary lengths to which the city’s administration is going  in encouraging ecologically responsible behaviors amongst its citizens. This blog will tell you how to use it yourself! 
Essentially, it’s simple: The city wants us to repair things - instead of, when something breaks, throwing it away.  Many of us will know the situation: You buy a toaster - but after two years that pretty thing stops working, you cannot figure out why, and then - when looking to repair it - you realize that the cheap replacement comes in at about 30 Euros, while the repair might easily cost 50 Euro or more (even just telling you whether something can get repaired may set you back by 40 Euros in many places).   Even those of us committed to shouldering the extra cost, out of attachment or principle, may not know where to get their toaster repaired in the first place. Not so in Vienna (any more).  The city will subsidize the cost of your repairs at 50% up to Euro 100, once per “Initiative period”, which for 2021 means twice this year.  The current Initiative runs through June 30th, and later in the year there will be a second iteration - between early September and mid December.  Even better: There is one “Reparaturbonus” per person - not per household - so if you are a family, each one of you in your household can get one!

 

Picture: This is what it looks like - Print-out of my Reaparaturbon

How to find your Reparaturbon?  Surprise - its’ online: On the website, you first create a “Vienna City account” by giving your name and address, and then you get access to your “Bon”.  All you need to do then is to print it out or download the QER code on your mobile.  That document you then take to the repair shop of your choice.
How to find repair shops?  The website is helpful here, too.  They have a list of repair shops - pretty much covering all items that may require repair - and you can search the list by location as well as by item.  The downside: It’s all in German.  With a little bit of translation work (“handy” for mobile phone; “toaster” for “toaster” or “Waschmaschine” for “Washing Machine”) you can move forward.  In testing the program and the site, I found that I could quite easily identify someone to repair a mechanical watch (that I had inherited from my Dad) and also someone to fix a Sandwichmaker (that I had bought two years ago - the switches were not working any more) - searchword “Kleinelektronik”.  
The visit to the Watchrepair store was lovely: Located in the 7th, Herr Horak is reachable by bicycle, and after a congenial conversation about our shared love for old watches, he promised to call me within a week; he did not charge for assessing the cost of the repair.  Now that I received the call, he will fix the watch - the main thing to watch for is that it’s done within the time allocated for the Initiative so that he can submit the bill in due time.

 

Picture: Watch Repair Specialist Walter Horak - taken from mein.wien.gv.at/wienerreparaturbon

The visit to the Kitchen Equipment Repair store was less easy but perhaps even more exciting:  RUSZ is located in the 14th - a bit out of my way - but reachable with U-Bahn/Strassenbahn. This store is a marvel - they were set up precisely to offer repair-instead-of-throw-away, a pioneer in what is called the “circular economy” movement, and you can pretty much bring them anything.  They charge 45 Euros for a repair assessment (deductible from the repair if you decide to go ahead in having them fix it), and the “Reparaturbon” can also be applied for the estimate.  Super friendly service, they called me within two days, and now I will have a good-as-new sandwich maker!  For future reference: Normally, RUSZ also offers a weekly “Reparatur Cafe” - where you can go with your device, and they will show you how to fix it yourself (for post-Corona times: keep checking their website)

 

Picture: Logo of the Repairshop I went for my toaster - they are committed to "repair not replace".

Caveats?  Really not many - but a few things to note.  The “Reparturbon” initiative clearly is designed to make us contemplate getting things repaired - not to cover all our cost.  The Bon can be used only once per “Initiative Period”.  And the whole Initiative runs through 2023, so not “forever”.  You are also not supposed to sell your “Bon” and you are supposed to use it within two weeks of printing it out, mainly to help the city with administration and accounting.  And finally: the subsidies may run out eventually - they have a fixed budget per period.  This means that if you come at the tail end, they may be out of “Bons”, at which point you can decide whether to wait until September or to simply use the website’s service to find yourself a friendly repairman and go ahead without the subsidy then.
Living in a “Throw Away Society” is, of course, a bigger and global problem - and definitely something that requires more action than what the individual consumer can do.  Living in the EU, we are fortunate that a new law - announced already two years ago - took effect just two months ago, this January: The “Right to Repair” requires producers of household equipment to make sure that everything they sell in the EU is “repairable” for at least 10 years.  This means not only designing and offering “repairable” products - but also to make available replacement items needed for repairs, one of the biggest hurdles that stood in the way of repairs over the last years.
So there is progress!  Let’s take part in it!