The high cost of warranty

Jan. 1, 2020
Rage is a four-letter word. That means I probably shouldn?t use it as much as I do.

Rage is a four-letter word. That means I probably shouldn’t use it as much as I do.

I know I shouldn’t experience it as often as I do. But, I do. In fact, I just did. I just got off the phone with one of our suppliers — one of our primary suppliers, and to be 100 percent honest with you, I really didn’t like what I just heard. So much so that I wanted to crawl through the wire and strangle someone!

This isn’t something new. In fact, it is a recurring problem. It is a problem that recurs with such terrifying frequency you have to wonder if anyone really gives a damn, that is, anyone other than someone like me, who is like one of your customers!

I can promise you that we give a damn. I can also promise that the day will soon come when something will be done about it, and if you aren’t riding the front end of that wave, you just might drown.

I’m talking about the high cost of warranty — an exponentially higher cost at my end of the food chain than at yours because of the labor content each parts failure brings with it. Quite frankly, I’m tired of bearing that cost alone, especially when there are things you can do to mitigate that cost that really shouldn’t constitute a hardship on your part.

Case in point: we installed front struts and mounts on a Lexus LS430. We sourced them from our “first call” import warehouse. We ordered online. In other words, as far as I know, we did everything you would like your repair community customers to do.


The parts came, they were installed; the vehicle was aligned, washed and delivered. Our client left happy and all was well with the world. That was, until, three months later when the vehicle was returned to the shop with a horrendous clunk in the right front suspension.

The strut mount had come completely apart; ripped and torn apart to the point there was actually nothing holding the mounting to the bearing.

We replaced it, thinking to ourselves it was certainly an odd kind of failure, something we had never seen before. A month later when the vehicle returned a second time with the same noise on the other side, we could no longer say that. Two strut mounts in two months and another alignment. You do the math.

Then I realized that I wasn’t sure where we had sourced the second set of strut mounts. I wasn’t the one who had ordered them. So, I looked it up and much to my dismay realized that the part numbers were identical. Further research confirmed that these were, in fact, the same mounts with the same part number from the same supplier. Could they have come from the same factory?

I called my supplier, Remember, I’m one of those relics who prefers personal contact, an “old guy” who appreciates a relationship. I asked him who made the mounts. I was not shocked to learn the country of origin. However, I was shocked with the answer to my next question, “What is the failure rate on this particular part?”
“Thirty percent,” was the reply.

Thirty percent! Three out of 10 of these parts had failed prematurely. Two out of the five shop owners who ordered these mounts were dealing with the same or similar failures. Forty percent of the clients are purchasing this line!

Why are they still on the shelf? Why haven’t they been pulled and sent back to the crooks and thieves who manufactured garbage and sold it as auto parts?

My account representative’s answer was simple, “I probably would have steered you away from that part if you hadn’t ordered it online. I try to protect my customers when they are about to do something like that.”

You see, he has the failure rate right there at his fingertips. I don’t. It doesn’t appear on the webpage. I don’t know about you, but I think it should. In fact, I think it has to. If nothing else, it should be a footnote someplace — anecdotal information that just might save someone like me hundreds of dollars in lost time, revenue and lost confidence.

After all, what’s the worst thing that could happen? The possibility of a lost sale? The chance I might not actually purchase a part that fails one out of three times?
The worst thing that could happen is me – or, someone very much like me – getting so angry, so outraged that we never call or visit your website again!

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