(Topic ID: 250259)

Don't stock up on parts


By pinheadpierre

77 days ago



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  • Latest reply 74 days ago by Fifty
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    -25
    #1 77 days ago

    I had an unfortunate customer service experience last week with Marco Specialties that I have decided merits talking about here so that others might avoid a similar experience. Part of the problem I encountered stems from my own behavior - I have a tendency to order parts I anticipate needing for a particular project or known upcoming maintenance task all at once. Sometimes, I will not get to that project or maintenance task for a year or more. Some parts I just like to have on hand so I can perform common repairs as needed without both waiting and paying for delivery of a single part or two.

    This has worked out fairly well for me as a general practice over the years, with a couple of exceptions - both of which have involved Marco and both coincidentally involving pop bumper parts. The first issue I ran across was poorly peened shaft attachments on pop bumper rings. The issue here is that sometimes the shafts are so poorly attached to the ring that the slightest flex or overtightening of the nuts will easily pull the two pieces apart. I have thrown at least a half dozen of these in the trash over the past couple of years, not bothering to ask for replacements.

    Perhaps because of this experience, I was less willing to let slide an issue I encountered with some pop bumper lamp sockets last week. Again, the issue came down to poor (almost non-existent) attachment of the leads to the body. The slightest twist (as is reasonable to expect when installing them or changing a bulb) and the lamp socket comes right off. This was not a situation like the rings where some were good and some were bad. ALL 12 of the lamp sockets were bad! At $2.89 each that's $34.68 plus shipping straight into the trash. In the scheme of things in the pinball world, that's chump change but still annoying enough that I felt compelled to reach out to Marco directly, let them know what I had encountered and ask for replacements since I was rebuilding a bunch of pop bumpers and could not finish the job since I didn't have any usable new sockets.

    Granted, it had been a long time since I had originally purchased these. (According to Marco, it had been three years. I am sure it had not been nearly that long. I thought it had been about a year.) Nevertheless, given that these were defective parts that had an unexpected defect not visible to the naked eye I fully expected that they would apologize for the inconvenience and simply replace them.

    Sadly, that was not the case. They initially asked me for photos so I sent them these pictures:

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    Cale at Marco emailed me back asking me to allow him time to look into it. A little over a hour later he wrote back again informing me that too much time had elapsed to do anything for me. Duly noted. Still, I have to ask, why put a disgruntled customer through the added hassle of sending photos if you know you're not going to help them?

    Since we can't change others, I will be changing my own behavior. I will no longer trust vendors to replace brand new defective parts unless the order is less than 30 days old. I will no longer order parts in advance unless I know I will be installing them within 30 days. I will no longer order parts from Marco Specialties. That might mean that I won't be able to get some stuff. That's a bummer, but I have decided that the convenience of their superior website search function and large inventory are not worth the (usually) higher prices or risk of eating it if something proves to be defective.

    I've got another big restoration project coming up. I'll be dropping a minimum of $500-$700 on parts for it. Looks like between PinballLife and PBR I can cover all the bases, so that's where my money is going now.

    #33 77 days ago
    Quoted from Blackbeard:

    3 years is too long to gripe.

    Yes - three years is a long time. 3 years is what Marco says. They base this off of all that I have to go on which is an order number on the bag that I keep this style of lamp sockets in. As a matter or organization, I tend to consolidate identical stuff in one bag from whatever vendor it came from. Under this system, multiple orders of a part can easily end up in the same bag. That's clearly a bad idea. Again, I don't think these are three years old, but I can't look it up like I could on PinballLife which allows customers to look back through old orders. Maybe they are that old, maybe not. I don't have a way of really knowing.

    If only some of them had been defective, I would've just thrown them in the trash and carried on without much more thought about it. It was the fact that ALL of them were defective that made me give them a call.

    I actually didn't ask for anything originally. What I did was call them and tell them what was going on. Maybe I was doing something wrong and breaking perfectly good parts? Maybe this was something that they know about and would be happy to help with? Maybe they would tell me what many of the comments here suggest and tell me to do a thorough quality check/stress test on all the parts I order rather than trust that they are all good? I felt it was worth a call. The result of the call with the weird photograph hoop jump prior to the half expected denial of exchange was what struck me as weird.

    Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

    Yes, you should not stock up on parts for 3 years and expect the distributor (note: not the manufacturer!) to replace them. Change your behavior.

    That's what I'm saying. Thank you.

    Quoted from pb456:

    Seems like a very small amount of money to be willing to lose a customer over, and also to be that ticked off.
    I think those parts probably are defective.

    I'm really not that ticked off. I mainly want to warn others not to buy parts in advance unless they are a professional repair business that mows through parts quickly. For the rest of us, our personal and professional lives often cause hobby projects to get shoved to the far back burner for longer periods of time than expected.

    Quoted from pb456:

    But I think if Marcos offered 50% off of replacements that would have gone a long way to resolving this, and the OP not swear off Marcos and put up a post quite like this would have been better.

    You are right. Anything would have gone a long way and this would not be an issue. The dollar amount doesn't matter. This is a matter of principle for me since I am talking about new, unused parts that could easily still be on their shelves.

    Quoted from High_End_Pins:

    Unfortunately These shitty pop bumper lamp sockets continue to be sold to this day

    Thanks for verifying that. I guess that's the crux of the matter for me. They know I bought these from them and very likely know they are defective.

    Quoted from gutz:

    OP - I've had those sockets break like that before and you can easily fix them. A drop of solder on the inside tab of the socket and a drop on the lead, reheat and you're back in business and stronger than they were new. It sucks you have to do it on a new part, and its sucks they're so expensive, but at least you don't have to trash them.

    Marcos told me to fix them with jb-weld.

    Quoted from ss-pinball:

    Why would they ask for pics and then refuse to do something based on time passing?
    The time passed with or without the pics--it seems like an excuse..."Jump through a hoop and we are going to say 'no' anyway"
    They should have said "I'm sorry. Our policy is that we can't do anything after 60 or 90 days" or whatever without asking for the OP to jump through a hoop.

    This is what puzzled me, too.

    Quoted from wolfemaaan:

    This post actually makes Marcos look pretty good. At least I know Marcos will consider returns up to 3 years, not even Amazon offers that

    I don't know about that, but it could be a win-win for them and other customers. Maybe a few people who have practiced the same dumb habits that I have will also change their ways and Marcos will have fewer calls about merchandise defects from guys like me after way too much time has passed.

    #43 77 days ago
    Quoted from cosmokramer:

    Sure you can...[quoted image]

    Quoted from TreyBo69:

    I can definitely log into my Marco's account and see my previous orders

    Thanks - now I can, too. My computer had logged my in automatically with an email address/password that didn't show any orders on the account page. Weird. I logged out and back in with a different email address and found most of my orders, though at least one order is not listed for sure and I don't have any other email addresses. Double weird. Anyway, I was able to confirm that they are crazy old. At least that's settled.

    #45 77 days ago

    I decided to change the title since I don't know how other vendors would handle complaints about defective parts after a long period of time had passed.

    #50 77 days ago
    Quoted from Mike_J:

    Your order was placed three years ago and you start this thread to bust their balls, oh sorry, warn others?

    A little of both, yes. Is time really such a factor when we have confirmation that these parts are known to be defective?

    -1
    #55 77 days ago
    Quoted from cosmokramer:

    It is if marco has changed vendors for these parts...

    Why? I get it that they couldn't send the defective stuff back to the manufacturer but keeping the profit made selling unusable parts isn't defensible either.

    #61 77 days ago

    Honest question: do most of you examine everything under a magnifying glass and/or perform a reasonable stress test on every part upon receiving them? These looked fine to the naked eye but several posts here indicate that this particular part is often crap.

    On my end, it's less about the money than the principal of it, not to mention the time already spent installing a bunch of these only to turn right around, desolder them all and replace them.

    #72 77 days ago
    Quoted from wolffcub:

    If your not happy with marco and switching suppliers will you just toss the new supplier items in a box till you need them knowing the other suppliers provide a superior product? Will you be ordering parts from others knowing you can go back to them at a later date for replacements for possible manufacturing issues? Send a email or call the other suppliers first prior to your next order to find out what the policy what duration of time is acceptable and see if they are willing to refund / exchange product or help someone out in some way.

    What I'll be doing going forward:

    * Checking all orders for completeness (nothing missing)
    * Carefully examining each part for visible defects
    * If there is an expected twist, push or pull type stress expected to be placed on the part during installation or use I will do that with reasonable force to see if it seems okay
    * Return anything defective pronto

    As for the remaining stock of parts I have on hand, I will just adopt a mindset that I was foolish to trust that I was buying functional stuff and know that some of it might be headed straight out of its packaging and into the trash.

    #73 77 days ago
    Quoted from FlippinJimmy:

    Sorry to hear about your issues. Could have been avoided though by checking the order when it arrived.

    I did check the order when I got it. I did not tug on each lead of each lamp socket which is what I would have had to do to discover this when I received it. That seems unreasonable.

    Quoted from FlippinJimmy:

    Was just thinking that the service I have received from Pinball vendors has been some of the best service I have ever received, period. I have purchased many other items of higher cost but for some reason the pinball vendors really exceeded my expectations.
    For example, Marco's, Pinball Life, The Pinball Resource, Ball Barron, BigLaw and Mr. Tantrum (to name a few) have followed up on orders immediately. Shipped so fast I couldn't believe it and a couple even followed up with emails asking about my order. One vendor even sent parts to me with an invoice to be paid. Who does that in 2019? Steve Young took the time to talk with me on the phone an answer questions I now realize were really dumb.

    I have for the most part had the same experience. For what it's worth, I believe I have purchased roughly the same amount of stuff over the years from Marco, PBR and PinballLife. I have never had anything left out of an order from PBR or PinballLife. Marco sometimes charges for stuff and then forgets to put it in the box. I never say anything. I just order it again, sometimes from someone else. I have never had a defective part from PBR. Ever. I had one minor bad part from PinballLife. They stuck a replacement in with my next order. I have received at least half a dozen pop bumper rings from Marco that went straight into the trash can. Ditto for these 12 lamp sockets. I also once purchased one of their LED display sets for a system 9 game. It didn't display any of the commas. Eventually they accepted a return but not without a lot of hassle (and yes, I notified them immediately).

    #85 77 days ago
    Quoted from Isochronic_Frost:

    Imagine if I bought a pin from you and then 5 years later the board looks like I toasted marshmallows on them, and I get angry about some hack you did and demand my money back???

    Wow - way to come up with a completely irrelevant analogy. Okay - let's imagine that:

    You buy a used machine from me and use it for five years....somehow in your mind that equates to buying a new part and never using it but discovering later that it is defective and unusable? Not the same at all. Not even close.

    #87 77 days ago
    Quoted from wolfemaaan:

    My dad used to have this beat up Craftsman Breaker bar with gauge on it to measure the pounds. It was rusted, and gauge bent all to hell and I remembered playing with it when I was 5. Many years later my dad had me drive him to Sears because he said it wasn't working properly (no shit) and said he wanted to exchange it. There was no way in hell they were going to replace it, but I just took him to humor him and see the look on those poor sears guys in the basement. Low and behold, those mofos not only gave him a brand new one, but they said come back in 2 weeks and well clean up the original and you can have it back. They did just that.
    Now maybe that's what the OP was expecting out of Marcos? Well, Marcos needs to stay in business and we see what happened to Sears for being good guys. But hey, I buy Craftsman to this day for this reason

    Again - not even remotely similar situations.

    #88 77 days ago
    Quoted from cottonm4:

    Drill out the brass Brad. Solder the two pieces back together. Get some #4 machine screws and put them back together. If the #4 screw will not work then superglue them or tape back together with some Gorilla duct tape.
    No need to trash them.

    Thanks I'll keep that along with other repair suggestions in mind for the future.

    #91 77 days ago
    Quoted from cottonm4:

    So you save your receipts?

    Usually just from PBR since those double as invoices. The rest I rely upon online order records.

    #95 77 days ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    I do.
    If I order parts they are for my business/livelihood. I can't afford to not inspect anything coming in. It could be the difference between a game earning or a game being down.
    LTG : )

    Good to know. Sometimes doing something seems like overkill until you learn how seasoned pros approach things like order verification and qc checks.

    #107 76 days ago
    Quoted from drsfmd:

    Then why even mention Marco by name, much less trash them for parts you ordered more than 1000 days ago? You're looking for retribution or to "get your own way" by embarrassing Marco into sending you parts.
    This thread is a total dumpster fire.

    Not looking for anything from Marco at this point. They made their call. I made mine. Keeping vendor identities anonymous in forum discussions is b.s.

    #121 76 days ago
    Quoted from ktownhero:

    Actually this thread is the perfect example of why vendors should be kept anonymous in these discussions. Because now you made a thread "calling out" Marco when they did absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever. In more modern lingo, this thread is "FAKE NEWS".

    B.S. there is NOTHING fake about reporting facts.

    #122 76 days ago
    Quoted from Murphdom:

    For all we know he could of broken them himself by how they were stored. Rummaging through parts bins for three years will jostle things around a bit.

    Except that I didn't and numerous others have stated that this particular product is known to be defective.

    -1
    #127 76 days ago
    Quoted from drsfmd:

    Incorrect. Marco acknowledged that at some point, more than 1000 days ago, OP purchased parts. How the heck is Marco supposed to know if those are even the SAME parts? Maybe (and this is not an accusation) OP bought parts from "Discount Joe's Pinball Emporium" and didn't like the quality so he's now trying to return them to Marco because Discount Joe's won't answer the phone.
    As far as I'm concerned, OP owes Marco an apology.

    I bought these from Marco. I know that. Its true that they can't know that for sure. Considering the slack I've given them over the years with not saying anything about other crap parts and being charged for stuff that they couldn't even be organized enough to actually put in my shipment, I don't feel an apology is warranted. Their service is inconsistent. Sometimes it's fine, sometimes it's sloppy. As a customer, I'm not into the overpriced crapshoot anymore.

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