A question that we are asked a lot, an awful lot, for service calls where the repairers are concerned, as a manufacturer of appliances and as a spares retailer is how long parts will take to arrive and the answer is often much more complex than people would think.
In this modern world most things that you order, especially online, can be tracked all the way from warehouse to actually being delivered to your home and people have come to expect this sort of service on most goods that they purchase. The appliance industry however, hasn't quite caught up with that and there are many good reasons why this is the case but for the most part, people not in the industry cannot understand why every item cannot be tracked and traced from cradle to grave as it were.
We wil explain to you why things are the way that they are.
Even the most expensive appliances that are sold in any kind of volume (without going to ridiculous extremes that only billionaires can afford) are considered to be relatively low cost items. And, the level of service that you can expect is often directly relational to the initial purchase price and where the appliance sits in the market.
So, a cheap washing machine from Argos right at the very bottom end of the scale, expect to receive poor service, limited spares availability (if available at all) and extensive waiting times for spare parts.
Conversely, a "top end" ISE10 washing machine you will generally get much faster service, full spares availability and usually a spare part delivered in 48 hours or less.
Of course this is not an exact science and there are anomalies in any brands particular performance but, as general guidance, we can normally tell you how good or bad spares supply will be on any particular brand.
That information is reflected in the online store where we will give a "normally delivered in" time for most items which offer guidance on how long a particular spare part will take.
Manufacturers and most others regard most spares are very low cost items and you have to think about things in perspective.
The average spares order value in the UK is around about £22.
Shipping a single spare part from outside the UK on DHL tracked delivery or similar is upwards of £75.
Now knowing that and, bearing in mind that even on washing machines the vast bulk cost less than £500, is it "reasonable" to expect parts to be shipped overnight from abroad with full track and trace on every single item? Also considering that any appliance spares hub or factory is sending out thousands of spare parts per day, the administration alone to offer indvidual track and trace would be immense.
Quite simply, the money and resources are not available to offer that level of service for most manufacturers. It is incredibly rare to receive individual parts from a factory order as it simply is not economically viable to do this.
Therefore, orders are sent and delivered in bulk.
Most people assume that the manufacturer of any one brand makes every single component in the appliance. This is simply not true.
Many of the components in any appliance are made by third parties, the production of these components is outsourced basically and, as such, you are looking at lead times from the manufacturer or brand owner but also you have to consider the lead times from the actual component supplier to the manufacturer or brand.
As more and more production of components has moved East, mostly to China to keep the product costs down, the lead times and even just availability of some spares parts have jumped up and they can take weeks, sometimes months, to be delivered to the UK.
Hence, low cost appliances can often be foudn to have poor or limited availability on spare parts as many of these are actually made remotely. And often product support, including for spare parts, is next to non-existent.
Factory orders, which we usually designate with lead times of up to 28 days, are a complete nightmare.
As we explained these are bulk orders and, often, the company receiving the order in the UK doesn't actually know what is arriving until the order actually lands. Seriously, it is the case with many, many manufacturers and suppliers that this is the way it works.
There are many reasons for this, some of which we explained above but also that the order can change, as lines arrive from third party component companies, right up until they tape the final box shut or shrink wrap the pallet of spares for collection by the haulier.
With this "just in time" type system in operation giving people exact delivery dates for factory ordered spare parts is virtually impossible.
It makes tracking factory order spare parts virtually impossible.
The worst part of it is that often the factory or supplier that the spare parts are ordered from, who have the same situation further downstream, are in the same position. They don't know when they will receive certain items either!
Yes, we know it seems crazy on the surface of it but, when there is no money in the industry to invest in systems to drag suppliers into the 21st century then there's no option but to use the old systems.
With all the above in mind, we often see delivery date slippages.
This is where you would ordinarily expect an order for a spare part to be delivered at the latest but, it doesn't arrive. All spares suppliers and repairers in the industry suffer from this where a manufacturer or supplier fails to deliver items on time, often as they are reliant of another supplier or manufacturer to deliver. It is a house of cards.
In short, there's nothing anyone can do normally.
Everyone in the whole chain is reliant on everyone doing their job correctly. If one part of the chain fails, the whole pack of cards falls apart.
Again, this happens much, much more on the low cost brands as they will often under invest (or not invest at all and sub-contract out) all spares supply responsibility.
For example, own label brands from the supermarkets, Argos etc., these companies don't service their own products or supply spares for them, it's all sub-contracted out to third parties. Some of these subcontract companies are good, some not so much. But, when the volumes of requests for a spare part drops off they won't stock it as shelf space costs money, the parts cost money and they won't spend it if they are not going to turn it over.
So parts get scarce on low cost brands quickly.
Or, another trick is that suddenly spares become so expensive that they are not worth buying, there's then no need to stock them as there's no sales of them.
Where we have a problem getting a part then there is no alternative but to wait, we've already exhausted all avenues to get it or, the only way is a factory order. To be blunt, we don't want complaints from customers about waiting times for spares and we have, on occasion, been known to refuse to supply certain brand's spares because of poor supply etc. Trouble is, there's often simply no choice but to wait.
More information on most brands sold in the UK and how available the spare parts are for them are detailed in the manufacturer information section of the site.
When a service engineer is struggling to get a spare part for your appliance, they're usually not lying as they don't get the information that you will often want and do bear in mind that they won't be paid until the service call is completed. It isn't in their interest to hold things up.
However, with all of the above in mind, neither we nor any other spares supplier offer you a cast iron guarantee that all spares will be available all the time on factory order spares and that is, whether others will tell you or not, the actual truth.