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.
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!