Opportunity A Machine Parts Sales image 1500x1500

Opportunity A, Repair Parts Sales

3.27.24 UPDATE:

A few days after posting this article, this manufacturer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Unfortunate, but I cannot say I am surprised. Thinking that now, being out of money, this manufacturer would be eager to make parts sales and minimize the bleeding, we asked, “Hello, Has there been any changes to your policy to allow service providers to purchase parts?” Shockingly, we received the reply, “Hello Dennis, At this time no.”

So there you have it. Despite having run out of money and just filing bankruptcy a month ago, Manufacturer A is sticking to their guns, doing nothing to help their customers, their service providers, or their shareholders.

Fortunately though, this is a great opportunity for everyone. Currently, Johnson Health Tech seems to be the frontrunner interested in purchasing Manufacturer A, which we believe would be a huge upgrade, as historically JHT has demonstrated a strong commitment to their after-sales service to their customers and service providers. Frankly, anyone other than Manufacturer A’s current management would be an improvement that we look forward to.


If you haven’t already, please read our “Challenges, But More Importantly, OPPORTUNITIES Within the Fitness Equipment Industry” article. To briefly reiterate, the objective of this article is not to throw stones, but rather to bring to light our experiences, our service model, and ultimately, to demonstrate how service providers and manufacturers can all work better together. 


Manufacturer A is a publicly traded fitness equipment manufacturer that (in name anyway) has been around from the start. You would recognize their name in a heartbeat. We perform both warranty and non-warranty work for this company, and have been working with them for over 15 years. Currently, they will not sell repair parts to service providers. Let me say that again. Service providers, who are well known to this manufacturer as they routinely perform certified warranty work on their equipment, are unable to purchase non-warranty replacement parts for this manufacturer’s customers.


As a service provider, this manufacturer offers three options: 

Option #1 is to obtain a credit card that is not in the company’s name to purchase parts as an individual. I thought this was silly, but for the sake of our customers, I did so. After a couple of orders, one service rep stated, “This is a not a business account, and should never have been set up as a consumer customer record. I don’t know how many times we have had this discussion and yet you still try to find ways of circumventing the policy.” So in reality, I guess this option isn’t really an option? 

Option #2 this manufacturer offered us was to purchase parts from third-party vendors.  Unfortunately, these third parties do not always stock all these parts, and some of them mark them up if they do, so this option is only a disservice to the owner of the unit. Why should customers have to pay higher prices and deal with more inventory issues, when this manufacturer can easily sell these parts to service providers, if it chose to? 

Option #3 they offered was telling us that we can have the customer order their own parts. This presents a myriad of problems. First, as a customer service organization, ordering parts is our job, not the job of our customers. This is part of the service that our customers are paying us to handle for them. If they need to do this, what are they paying us for?  

Second, if a part ships to a customer, how are we as certified technicians supposed to inspect this part to ensure that the correct part was sent, and that it is functional, prior to our arrival at our customer’s location? Not being able to do so greatly increases the chances of this customer’s time and money being wasted on service calls where nothing is accomplished.  

Third, customers don’t always know what parts they need. For example, we had a customer, J.C., who ended up getting entangled in this mess, as the part needed was not shown on the documentation provided by this manufacturer. J.C. kept getting the runaround from their manufacturer and reached out to us for help. Per an email from the manufacturer to us, the diagram number needed was 69, we sent that to J.C., who was then told by the manufacturer that part 69 did not exist on this unit. We provided J.C. a screenshot of our email from this manufacturer specifying part 69, but J.C. was still unable to get anywhere. Exasperated, J.C. emailed us saying, “So I really appreciate you reaching out to them.  Unfortunately, I can’t find that unnamed part anywhere to order.  The servo motor is easy, but I can’t find the brake thing anywhere.  Do you have any ideas?  I’d love for you to fix it but I can’t find that part.” With no other options, we emailed a manager, and copied J.C. stating, “Three months ago we diagnosed a [model name], our mutual customer [customer name] has been trying to have this unit repaired since then. Due to [Manufacturer A’s] unwillingness to work with service providers to obtain the parts for this unit, [customer name] has not been able to acquire the parts he needs. How can this be resolved?  

Almost immediately, J.C. replied all with, “Just adding my voice as the affected customer, the inability to secure the parts necessary to make this (simple) repair makes me much less inclined to buy any additional [manufacturer A] products in the future and I would actively encourage family and friends to avoid doing so as well.  I hope you can help us get this issue resolved promptly so that I can remain a positive voice regarding your company’s products and services.” Completely understandable J.C.! 

Now, in front of a customer, the manufacturer’s tune changes. “HnP – If there are questions on your parts/service agreement with [us], you’ll want to reach out to your Retail representative or email into [redacted] to inquire about getting set up to purchase parts as this has previously been discussed with your team.  [Manufacturer A] only sells parts to our end consumers or to Retailers set up through a Retail agreement (as we are unable to accept business credit cards through Customer Care).  

[Customer name] – I cannot see the attachment nor know what was sent to [Manufacturer A] from HnP, but it doesn’t seem like we’ve had any issues in our responses and have provided very timely responses.  Based on what I can see below, it appears that this would be the part needed [part number]; but our Customer Care team can do troubleshooting with either you or HnP over the phone if you’d like so we can further confirm that if need be.  This part is currently in-stock and would ship within one week.” 

So, good news, J.C. is being taken care of, and we have been told to reach out to our retail rep to set our account up. Splendid. We follow their directions, do what we’re told, and then once the customer is not included in these email conversations any longer, Manufacturer A goes back to the same uncooperative attitude they had before. Weeks later our emails are still unanswered, we send in another inquiry and are told, “Thank you for your interest in becoming a new 3rd Party Parts Dealer. Currently, we are not accepting new partnerships for parts dealers/new 3rd Party Retailers. If we open this in the future, we will be sure to advise. In order to purchase parts, you will need to go to one of our 3rd Party Retailers.” How convenient. We pushed back saying a manager indicated we could be set up, the manager that stated that then replied, “I apologize for any confusion, but I was merely suggesting that the Retail was the point of contact to inquire about getting set up.  At this time, it does not sound like that is a possibility.  If processes change down the road, we can let you know.” Sounds like bait and switch to me, clearly this was a bold-faced lie that was only stated in front of a customer for appearance’s sake. Once more, why is this manufacturer working so hard to make parts ordering for their customers as difficult as possible?


In summary, this manufacturer can sell these parts to individuals. Why would service providers not be able to purchase them? How are we as a service company going to be able to support these customers’ repair needs if we are unable to purchase parts?


So, court of public opinion, are we off base here? Should owners of these pieces of fitness equipment be made to order their own parts just because the manufacturer doesn’t feel like selling to service providers? Should these owners of fitness equipment like J.C. be put at risk of having to pay for additional service calls because the service provider is not given the opportunity to validate the parts prior to their arrival?


Once more, an open dialogue is encouraged, what obstacles have you encountered, and what improvements would you like to see within this industry?


We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and looking forward to improving this industry by working TOGETHER! 

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