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Components returns rates (7)
by Marc Prieur
Published on November 16, 2012

The one gap in our advice on purchasing of material is information on reliability. Sure, manufacturer reputation helps, but as reliability varies enormously from one model to another, even well-known manufacturers aren’t immune to sending out doubtful products.

Even though, as the financial sector has taught us, we shouldn‘t rely on past results, today we’re publishing some of the returns stats that we have available. Of course this type of stat is of relative value, especially as a good number of the products have become obsolete. The information is nevertheless useful and allows us to point out certain products or manufacturers that need to do better in the future.

The first question is of course where the stats come from. They’re taken from a large French etailer, whose database we have had direct access to. We were therefore able to extract the stats we wanted directly from source.

Under what conditions is a part declared as defective by this etailer? There are two possible cases: either the technician considers the exchange of information with the client (type of problem, cross testing) sufficient to declare that the product isn’t working, or there’s a question mark over the component and the etailer tests it to check if it’s working or not.

Among the returns that aren’t tested, some of the components announced as having an issue by customers probably aren't actually defective, in spite of the precautions taken by the technician. This is something inherent in the etailing sector and in practice, it’s unlikely that any model or product is more affected by this phenomenon than any other (at least we’re aware of no objective argument that shows this).

Of course, these statistics are limited to the products sold by this particular etailer and the returns made to it. Sometimes returns are made to the manufacturer itself, particularly with storage but this represents a minority in the first year.

There’s no other way of obtaining more reliable statistics and, while not perfect, at least our system allows us to give you some indication of reliability.
Who would for example believe any returns rates given by the manufacturers themselves?

The returns rates given concern the products sold between October 1st 2011 and April 1st 2012 for returns made before October 2012, namely after between 6 months and a year of use. Over the lifetime of a product the returns generally form a spread out U on the graph, with the end virtually flat. Our figures therefore cover the early part of the lifetime of products, where returns rates are high.

The statistics by brand are based on a minimum sample of 500 sales and those by model on a minimum sample of 100 sales, with the biggest volumes reaching tens of thousands of parts by brand and thousands of parts by model. Each time, we’ve compared the rates by manufacturer to those in our previous article on the subject published in May 2012.

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