Today I stripped an alternator I had been given some time ago that was no longer working. I'd been told the brushes were worn out, but when I took it apart, in fact the brushes had plenty of life, but were sticking badly in their holder. This was due to the dust they produce as they wear being stuck together by the spilled oil.
Whether the oil also had an effect by increasing the rate of wear so there was more dust, I don't know, but the oil was certainly causing the dust to become semi-solid, and the brushes were not moving out fully in the holders.
I would pop this alternator back on a car to prove the theory, but as it's such a bitch of a job, I don't fancy doing it and then finding there's something else wrong, so I'm figuring out a way of testing off the car.
In the mean time, for gawds sake, protect the alternator when doing an oil change, and make sure your garage does it if they service your car.