I am new to pins but my first NIB buying experience has left me disappointed and confused. I shopped around. The local pin shop has a monopoly and prices NIB pins about $1-3k (plus sales tax) more than national distributors. I decided to purchase a NIB pro from a distributor with a good reputation.
STERN BUYING EXPERIENCE #1:
Unfortunately, the NIB Stern was defective out of the box with multiple operator errors. I contacted the distributor and Stern for assistance. I expressed my concern that this was a lemon and I wanted to return/exchange the pin. My goal was to avoid an immediate significant hassle. The distributor told me I needed to give them a chance to get it fixed and I reluctantly agreed.
WARNING - MAJOR POTHOLE AHEAD: Stern's warranty service is lacking professional administration and support.
It appears Stern's warranty process is for the distributor to kick the service request over to Stern and Stern then kicks the service request over to a locally authorized service provider. There appears to be no additional follow-up from Stern and the service request is considered addressed. This leads to a significant process gap.
In my city, the only authorized service provider is the previously mentioned local pin shop which is very hostile to these service requests. In my case, the local pin shop simply delayed/ignored my service request without ever scheduling a service appointment. Without follow-up from the distributor or Stern, my NIB unit remained unrepaired for almost one month in the living room of my home.
Eventually, with many, many phone calls by me to the distributor and in coordination with Stern, my unit was inspected by a different third party repair service. This third party repair service had far less experience than a Stern authorized service provider and was not able to complete the needed repairs. However, the unit was found to be experiencing significant defects and was ultimately returned to the original distributor and I received a full refund - so there's that.
Upon the distributor's professional inspection, multiple repairs to various functions/parts were required and it was determined this unit should never have passed Stern's quality control and was likely never play tested by Stern.
STERN BUYING EXPERIENCE #2:
I decided to try a different Stern pin with a different distributor. This NIB Stern pin arrived with one non-functioning coin slot and one damaged toy. When I mentioned the coin slot issue to distributor #2, they simply suggested I put the game in free play.
CONCLUSION: I am at a loss
As background, I work in a high margin industry where the bare minimum level of service is meeting customer expectations. Our goal is always to exceed customer expectations and when something goes wrong we take complete ownership of the issue. Ultimately, if something is not righted quickly, we issue refunds, apologies, and future goodwill credit.
This seems to be the exact opposite of the pin buying experience. This leaves me to feel that the Stern product quality is subpar and the Stern warranty service is even worse. I am new to buying pins. I am not looking to burn a distributor's reputation or Sterns (no names have been referenced above). I just cannot believe this is the industry standard.
P.S. I wrote a very detailed email documenting my experience and emailed it to Gary Stern and Stern customer service. It's been one month and I have not received a response nor an acknowledgment. Again, this would be completely unheard of in my industry and leaves me scratching my head.