Quoted from NeilMcRae:
my engine has blown up in my car. BMW dropped a new engine off and I'm doing the swap myself.
Are you guys serious? A replacement playfield on its own is +nowhere+ NEAR an acceptable solution to this. Please please please for the love of god stop saying it is.
This is a bit disingenuous. If your BMW's engine blows up, it ceases to function as a car. If your playfield has clearcoat issues, it still operates and earns as an amusement device.
Clearcoat chipping on a playfield is probably better compared to clearcoat chipping on your car. Unfortunately Pinball distributors don't have full service departments with paint shops. And it's way harder to schlep your pinball machine around than it is to drive your BMW to the paint shop.
This is a growing pain of pinball moving from a mostly operator-purchased product for commercial use to a collectible item for the home. Stern, Williams, others, they could survive scrutiny from a bad batch of playfields because operators put them on location, earned a ton of money for a few years, then warehoused them. Didn't matter if the clearcoat chipped. Game still earned.
I asked Gary Stern at ReplayFX 2018 about why they kept selling through distributors and not direct, because finding a distributor isn't an obvious thing. But I think it makes sense, Stern does not want to ramp up a large customer service network and deal with every imperfection in a commercial, hand assembled piece of equipment. I also don't know if the major manufacturers could sell at the prices they do or achieve profitability if they could possibly be sunk by a bad run of playfields.