tl;dr Make sure you understand the part sellers' return policy.
Most repair parts vendors will claim that their parts are OEM. But, buying quality parts is a notorious difficulty for repair businesses. So, what gives?
Understanding Repair Parts ¶
You’ll likely buy your repair parts from a distributor. But it’s important to know where the distributor is getting the parts.
Repair parts come from six sources:
Some people use different terminology than we do. Click the terms to see our definition.
- OE parts taken directly from a new, used, or broken device.
- OEM parts rejected by the OEM reseller.
- The third shift at an OEM factory.
- Third party manufacturers using OEM specifications.
- Third party manufacturers using their own specifications.
- Counterfeit parts with the same markings as the OE parts.
More complicating are the facts that:
- No one of those six sources is necessarily better than another.
- It's nearly impossible to tell which of these sources the part came from.
- Calling parts OEM that are not is illegal. But some sellers do it anyway.
- Tracing a part though though the various distributors all the way back to its original source is practically impossible.
Be Honest ¶
Marketing repair parts as OEM that are not OEM is fraud. Certain companies have taken legal action against repair shops that claim they use OEM parts.
Don't Trust the Seller ¶
When buying parts, you can only trust yourself and the experiences that you have with the vendor. As Obi-Wan says, "trust your feelings."
- Research the seller thoroughly. Pay close attention to feedback concerning the item that you want to buy.
- Consider eBay: Do you care that a vendor is an "A+++ Seller" or that "iPhone 4 CDMA display assembly didn't work, trying to get refund."
- Know your risk.
- Don't spend much with an untested vendor.
- Know your backup.
- "If I don't have the part by this date, I can rely on this vendor."
- Know the seller's return policy.
- How long is the part returnable?
- Under what conditions can the part be returned?
- What do you get for a return? Money back? Replacement part? Store credit?
- Is there a restocking or other return-related fee?
- Know the sellers' guarantee/warranty policy.
- How long is the part guaranteed?
- What do you get for a broken part guarantee? Money back? Replacement part? Store credit?
- Test the seller.
- Ask the seller a few questions about the product, even if you already know the answer. Judge the seller based on response time, knowledgeability, and language skills.
Once you do buy from a vendor, pay close attention to the entire process:
- Based upon your interactions, is the vendor trustworthy?
- Would you recommend this vendor to others?
- How communicative is the vendor? Do they keep you informed of order status?
- How willing is the vendor to handle returns or refunds?
- Which parts are satisfactory, which are not?
- Remember, always test parts as soon as you receive them.
- Which vendors' parts are failing after the repair is completed?
And, most importantly, when you find a reliable vendor that provides the quality you want at the price you need, stick with them!