In Canada, Cineplex Starburst has a monopoly as the exclusive distributor for Stern Pinball. As it is now, Canadian customers don't really have much of a choice of where they buy Stern pins and parts. My recent experience with Cineplex leads me to believe that having more than one distributor might be better for the customer and better for Stern.
I’ve been having trouble with the drop target on my Star Trek LE for ages. Whenever the mech attempts to raise the drop target, it doesn’t catch properly, drops, and the target rapidly and repeatedly attempts to raise it. I’ve tried the thin washer solution detailed here on Pinside (I’m not the only one who has experienced this problem), and while it would allow the drop target to remain in the raised position, it was then difficult to knock it down with the thin washers installed, even with a direct hit. I had to remove the washers, but again, once removed, the drop target won’t stay up. You can’t reliably lock a ball under the Vengeance, as the drop target will cycle repeatedly, and there are other related problems.
After toying with this endlessly, I contacted Chas at Stern to see if he had any suggestions to make it work properly. I explained to him that it’s a Star Trek, and obviously not still under warranty. He graciously went through troubleshooting with me, but in the end figured that it was most likely a mechanical issue, and that the drop target assembly might need to be replaced. Chas said that as I’d been having the problem for so long, he would goodwill exchange the assembly as warranty, even though it was now out of warranty, but that I would need to have Cineplex (the exclusive Canadian distributor) contact him to do the order for it. He told me that he could have the part shipped anywhere, but that it had to be arranged through Cineplex.
I sent an email to Cineplex parts, explaining what Chas had suggested I do. The parts department at Cineplex forwarded it on to their service department, who replied simply that the machine is out of warranty, and that I would need to order the part at a cost of $289.95.
Receiving this message, I called Chas at Stern back. I told him about the message I received from Cineplex, assuming there had just been a miscommunication, as Cineplex wanted to charge me close to $300 for the part. He was shocked at the price. He apologized and told me that Cineplex had contacted them, and stipulated that my machine wasn’t under warranty, told them I wasn’t the original owner, and that I would have to order and purchase the part from Cineplex.
Helpful as always, Chas continued to help me try to find other possibilities in getting the drop target to work. At the end of the day, all I care is that my drop target works, regardless of the fix.
I take no issue with Chas or Stern, as they went out of their way, in an act of goodwill to help me out. I don’t really believe I can say the same thing for Cineplex/Starburst/Playdium Store. Stern offered to help me out, and it seems that Cineplex told Stern that they can’t. It's really disappointing that Cineplex would take this kind of action on behalf of a customer, and if that’s the new Cineplex concept in customer service, I don’t want to spend another dime with them.
Has anyone else had a bad experience with Cineplex Starburst? Should Stern reconsider only having one, exclusive distributor of their games in Canada?