I have never had a clearcoat issue with Stern. However, I have had other issues. At first I would call, be on hold for maybe 5-30 minutes, and the tech that would answer would either be really nice and helpful, or just a total dick. The only time they ever asked me for a pic was a defective lock down bar. They were awesome with that, after they seen the pic, even asked if I could change it myself or if they needed to send someone. I said I can take care of it, thanks very much.
Then on another NIB 2 weeks old a rubber broke that would require a whole lot of taking stuff apart to get to and I wanted the help I had declined with the bar they totally ignored me and I hired a pro to take care of it.
My personal experience with Stern was they have been awesome 50% of the time, and have sucked 50% of the time. And a lot more than just the couple things I listed above. On the phone it is the same way, 50-50 chance the next tech that answers is nice and helpful, or a dick.
Right now I really like AP. They are here on pinside answering questions and being helpful. It is a shame Stern can not do that and have someone here taking care of problems.
I was holding out for a JJP future release that would be a widebody and as awesome as POTC, but after I read all this Oktoberfest stuff and seeing AP interacting here on Pinside I went with that, and I am 100% happy I did.
IMO Stern is just too big and does not care anymore. 50% of the time they were awesome with my stuff, but that is a failing grade. And I was never picky, I only contacted them when the problem was too bad the game was not playable and I could not do the repairs myself...and still under warranty anyway.
I am very glad I have the Stern games I have, and I am sure I will enjoy them for years to come. I am done with their NIB though, only 50% of the time they honored warranty stuff when a game was messed up, and that was way before the pooling etc., going on now.