Since I stupidly put a lot of thought into a post that's sitting in the middle of a flame thread I thought I'd move the content for general discussion. I'm interested to see what people make of my idea.
I think a big problem with FFXIV repairs is there is general ignorance regarding the value of many of the items out there and that there's a big difference in what makes the game fun for people. We all play the game for different reason, but the game has put in some major road blocks for us to overcome to make the game enjoyable: limited barter/bazaar-only trade (which may change with this week's patch), a general lack of equipment cohesion created by a wide array of crafts and a deep social curve to wrap it all together.
Mole Sinew may be vendor trash to you, it could mean a finished item with SP/gil tied to it for someone else. Given that there is such a distributed market (I don't think I could put that any more politically correct) price disparity and wild swings of valuation occur. Add to that the fact that at any given time a player may need to get repairs from multiple crafting specialists: weaver, goldsmith, blacksmith, armorer and maybe a leather worker too. The only place to handle all of those repairs is the worst value in the world: NPC repair vendors.
While I heartily enjoy the diverse number of crafts and items that can be made, it can seem an almost impossible task to "keep up" on repairs; likely the reason that so many players are running around with severely damaged equipment. Most people want to play a game for enjoyment, most players like to be as efficient about time/money sinks as possible so they can continue to enjoy the rest of the game. Having to either sacrifice a truck load of money for a sub-par repair, or potentially hours of running around for individual repairs, is not a compelling addition to the long-term enjoyment of a game.
Crafters cannot be everything to everyone (at least not yet). While a master smith may have made his or her way to the top, they likely can do nothing for you (in the short term) for your broken fishing rod. Nor can a jack-of-all-trades fix your Iron Axe of Awesome +2, because that person has spread their skills about (likely to manage their own repairs). So we have this diffuse crafting/repair economy with no standardization or coordination trying to assist a bevvy of adventurers who just want to have fun.
And fun being a finely subjective term may also add into this equation: A "towny" crafter may have no problem running between guilds to get their Velvet Robe of +40 craftsmanship repaired because it's in their back yard, but a Lancer would rather be in the field skewering nasty beasts. That Lancer's "fun" can potentially be ruined by the hoops that won't make the Weaver bat an eyelash. Worst case for the Lancer is they have to run into the middle of a town, far away from the Adventurer's Inn and the zone lines (where they want to be) to find a half-assed repair job for a mountain of cash.
I guess the proposal from me would be to make "sympathetic" crafts able to repair a range of goods, naturally using the required repair materials. Or that the repair range was severely slashed so that crafters of less overall skill can get adventurers back on their way. Both methods have their merits: one doubles or triples the pool of available crafters to assist you (the major drawback would be non-specialized crafters would have to consume bag space for multiple repair materials, or not have them at all), the other expands the repair pool as well as gives those crafters a small means of making basic funds/skill.
The latter would also alleviate multiple inhibiting factors; you are no longer "distracting" fast-track crafters from their grind to the top by asking for repairs, as well as reducing the expected cost of said repairs(lower level crafters would be much more content with a small sack of coins and a few SP, comparatively). It doesn't remove the ability for higher level crafters from providing repairs and certain boutique items could still require higher level mats/skill for the sake of not wholly relieving "Masters" of a market. Or better, both: lower level skill requirements and the ability to repair a range of gear (too much to ask?). Regardless, simplified repair mechanics would benefit to the enjoyment of the game for all.