Wanted to give an update on my personal situation with Stern.
I spoke with John Buscaglia and Patrick Powers on a conference call today. Trent had been in touch with Stern as you know for quite some time, and finally made this phone call happen. So I can't lay any blame right now, I think he really was struggling to get answers and communicate w/ Stern and get fresh info to pass on to me.
First off, I have never spoken to John, but he is awesome. He first started off apologizing and saying sorry about the communication issues I have had with Stern. He was very sincere sounding, and really came off as a good dude. Told me he came from Topps cards and he understands the collector mindset and expectations - so there was no disputing on what I think is a defect vs. Stern's definition.
John also mentioned he knows communication is a problem and they are looking into ways to bring up the level of communication with customers. I spoke my mind loud and clear about the censorship of customer's social media posts and how they are quick to reply with a snarky comment to someone on there, but silent when it comes to complaints and everything else. John agreed and said Stern is looking to improve all aspects of their communication with customers.
They have my playfield ready and after my phone call w/ John, I decided I will not move forward with a buyback request - but simply replace the playfield. He also said he read many of my posts here and yes, all of my actions here did get them to the drawing board and said many of my criticisms here he cannot defend and agreed w/ a lot of them, which was pretty cool to hear that.
John offered to overnight me the playfield replacement box, but I declined as I know that is pretty pricey. I said just knowing its coming is fine w/ me. All I want out of this is better communication and them to see customers will not stand for high priced, half assed shit with poor customer service. John was very open to listening to me and told me they are trying to improve things at Stern based feedback here on Pinside. This site DOES matter to this hobby... all of our opinions and suggestions do get read. If you have a problem, post it here as Stern does read this and it seems is taking it to heart which is great for us hobbyists.
As of right now I am very happy after talking to John today, and from what he told me - everyone else should be getting the same result as me very soon as well. Hopefully this was a great lesson for Stern in regards to manufacturing, quality control, and especially customer service.