The pandemic is disrupting our lives in many ways; even the appliance industry is affected. In addition to longer than usual delays caused by a surge in calls, some repairs are being delayed by the difficulty—sometimes the impossibility—of obtaining the necessary replacement parts. Here’s the explanation.
Manufacturers can’t keep up with demand
Renovations and the construction of new homes are on the rise, pushed by lockdown measures and the challenges of travelling abroad. With more money in their pockets and being more willing to invest in their homes, homeowners are creating a strong demand for new appliances.
Although manufacturers have resumed their operations after a shutdown in the spring of 2020, they’re still operating at reduced capacity. In an interview with CBC, Whirpool Canada Vice-President and General Manager Gary Power acknowledges that health safety protocols (including physical distancing, additional cleaning and higher absenteeism) are affecting production. “The impact on our manufacturing facilities is that we’re sometimes not able to operate at maximum capacity,” he says.
The same thing is happening at Sears; American TV network ABCreported on the case of a customer who had to wait several months for a replacement part before the manufacturer finally gave her a new appliance.
Less model choice, more appliance repairs
Faced with these challenges, manufacturers are focusing on producing essential appliances that can provide the highest yield. Some of the more complex and time-consuming luxury models are being set aside in favour of higher volume ones. Unable to get exactly the new appliance they want or unwilling to wait for long delivery times, more customers are now turning to repair.
Part availability challenges
Appliance repair services such as ourselves obtain parts from distributors. These suppliers order large volumes of parts directly from manufacturers and then distribute them to repair companies.
Many parts are manufactured in Asia and have to be shipped by container to North America. However, the increase in transportation costs and the scarcity of containers are creating a situation where some parts exist but are unavailable for order because they can’t be shipped.
What happens when a part is not in stock?
If a replacement part is neither in our own or our partners’ inventory, we can order it from adistributor. In 80% of cases, we’ll receive the part within 14 days.
If the part is still unavailable, we follow up with our suppliers, but the information given to them by the manufacturers isn’t always reliable. Some don’t provide any delivery date, while others give one, only to postpone it. Some parts may take 4 to 10 weeks to be shipped, or remain unavailable for an indefinite time.
After the 14-day window and after relaying the available information to you, our team offers you the choice of cancelling your part order or maintaining it to retain your priority. We continue to follow up with our suppliers and keep you informed of developments, but have no way of providing a firm delivery date.
Thank you for understanding and please know that we’re making every effort to ensure our customers’ peace of mind, despite these challenging circumstances.