Quoted from Bublehead:
My observation is Distributors are caught between operators who don't give a crap and consumers who do.
The entire industry is!!!
Basically, we've taken pinball - a 100 year old industry - and completely changed the parameters overnight. Until 10 years ago, it was still basically an operator/commercial business, and the consumers never really cared about this minutia that drives home buyers absolutely insane. As long as it coined up and worked they were happy, and if it didn't, they were used to making small adjustments here and there. I'd guess "warranty claims" - if they even existed - were few and far between, and quickly and easily taken care of by distributors. Nobody was demanding new playfields or cabinet decals in 1995.
Now of course, it's suddenly a home item for a niche but still rapidly growing crowd, and nobody knows how to deal with it. Home buyers are far more demanding and exacting than commercial buyers (and their dads, and their grandads) ever were. At the same time the industry has completely shifted its focus on who they are marketing to - when was the last time you saw a pinball promo touting it's "earning power" or the many "industry firsts that keep players paying?" It's been years.
I don't know how it's gonna shake out but it's been a rocky road and I don't see it getting smoother. Home consumers want an "appliance" akin to a toaster or VCR, and pinball just ain't never gonna be that - it's ALWAYS gonna be far less reliable and consistent and complicated than the other consumer goods people are used to buying while being far more expensive. Can't blame the industry for going where the money is but we are in uncharted waters here!