Is reliability a factor when you buy equipment? The satisfaction factor of a piece of equipment which is rated "A" or whatever else may signify the cat's whiskers falls to zero when it has to be packed up and sent across town or, more than likely and worse yet, across the country for service. Is reliability just for Consumer Reports type people? Moreover, with all the dubious information about on the performance and sound of equipment, how can one know if negative comments on a piece of equipment are serious. When equipment looks like it's built like a tank, can we conclude it's actually dependable short term and for the long haul?
I think you also have to include "customer service"--the two go hand in hand IMHO. That doesn't necessarily mean that a reliable product will have great customer service, and poor reliablity entails bad customer service--it just means the two are important together--in context. For example, I have a Faroudja 2200. It had a problem. It took me a while to conclude it was the Faroudja, but I did before I called Faroudja. To my surprise, without my proof, they acknowledged the problem had me send it to them and they fixed it in a day and fed-xed it back to me. This was an expensive unit--but with that kind of service and response I don't mind that I had a problem. I've also had problems with a Krell amplifier--similar situation--fixed quickly and sent back quickly.

On the other hand I've had to deal with Sony on technical issues--different story altogether. If it's a Sony product--it better be reliable--very reliable--because I would not count on technical or service from them--I completely discount any warranties figuring they will come up with a way to tell me it's not warranted.
I have had great service from both Conrad Johnson and Onkyo USA for warranty repairs. They also were very helpful by phone and E-Mail. Reliability is only an issue with me if what I hear on the street is bad.
Very important...that's why I bought a Technics 1200 TT vs one of those 'entry level high end' belt drives. Reliability is a major factor in my purchases. I hate stuff breaking on me.
Is this really all that much of an issue? In almost 25 years of ownership I've had one "defect" (a speaker selector switch LONG out of warranty) and the normal belt/cartridge replacements (including after one of the cats attacked a spinning record). I've admittedly been all SS and don't buy/sell a ton of stuff, but my experience has been virtually problem free, to the extent I don't even think about a reliability record. Am I the lucky exception?
To me, reliability is EXTREMELY important. I have $35,000 in McIntosh components and Sonus Faber speakers. I've owned Mac since 1984. I've had 1 problem with a component in all this time, and the company was very responsive in repairing it. I've been on the phone with techs from Mac about audio issues and they have always been very helpful to me.Also, when I spend good amounts of money for a component I expect it to function, without a problem, for a long time.