(Topic ID: 172477)

I've been a long time Stern Pinball fan, but I'm done with them.


By jar155

3 years ago



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    There are 767 posts in this topic. You are on page 7 of 16.
    #301 3 years ago
    Quoted from Jvspin:

    If BM66 SLE can sell out at $15k do you really expect them to price the 40th anniversary SW77 SLE the same? I see a price increase on the horizon.

    by that time 9k for an LE and 15k for a SLE will be a thing of the past.
    no doubt it will go up, new price, 10k LE and 16k SLE (if they make one) with less features. why? because $$$$$
    mark my word, until they realized 50% of their customers buy somewhere else, and it will happen.

    -3
    #302 3 years ago

    Stern peaked from 06-08 in my opinion. POTC, SM, and BDK were the pinnacle of quality, fun, theme integration and "toys".

    ...And value

    17
    #303 3 years ago
    Quoted from usandthem:

    Stern peaked from 06-08 in my opinion. POTC, SM, and BDK were the pinnacle of quality, fun, theme integration and "toys".

    I don't know about that. I think TSPP and LOTR were the pinnacle.

    #304 3 years ago
    Quoted from Jvspin:

    I think TSPP and LOTR were the pinnacle.

    Same year as Ripley's. All three were packed pretty full. Playfield and code wise. 2003 wasn't a bad year.

    #305 3 years ago

    id say 03-08 has the biggest bulk of games in it that are considered great by stern. For me its been a decline since they change lockdown bar mechs, and playfield service guides on the pro models which began with Met. Each game after has felt more and more stripped.

    #306 3 years ago
    Quoted from Jvspin:

    I don't know about that. I think TSPP and LOTR were the pinnacle.

    Those were the Whitestar pinnacle...but the SAM years had an excellent run with FGY, SM, Tron, IM, AC/DC and Metallica! Plenty of other fun SAM era games. Things have been "off" since the move to Spike, IMO.

    Quoted from Dr-Willy:

    For me its been a decline since they change lockdown bar mechs, and playfield service guides on the pro models which began with Met. Each game after has felt more and more stripped.

    Actually the pegs replaced the service rails with Iron Man in '10

    25
    #307 3 years ago

    The fact they banned Martin from pinball news from the factory tour is just sad. Gb maybe my last NIB stern..

    #308 3 years ago
    Quoted from Jvspin:

    I don't know about that. I think TSPP and LOTR were the pinnacle.

    Yeah. Those games are certainly nothing to sneeze at. No doubt about it.

    #309 3 years ago
    Quoted from usandthem:

    Stern peaked from 06-08 in my opinion. POTC, SM, and BDK were the pinnacle of quality, fun, theme integration and "toys".

    You forgot value.

    #310 3 years ago
    Quoted from Rarehero:

    Actually the pegs replaced the service rails with Iron Man in '10

    The "Pegs" instead of Service Rails started on the latter part of the BBH run.
    Some BTDK had them as well (+ the cheap plastic Aprons) then IM had both (Pegs & plastic Apron's).
    I've seen 5 BTDK, 2 had Service Rails & metal Aprons, 1 had Pegs & metal Apron & 2 had Pegs & plastic Aprons.

    #311 3 years ago

    I was sorry to see the coffin lock go. Always thought that was a great way to secure the back box.

    #312 3 years ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    The fact they banned Martin from pinball news from the factory tour is just sad. Gb maybe my last NIB stern..

    Yeah that was just lame. Heck even Ed Robertson made a joke about it in his song sung at the party.

    #313 3 years ago

    I was considering GB Premium but now I'm really holding back. I guess with elections you make yourself heard with your vote. In pinball I'll make my voice heard with my money. Holding onto it for now.

    24
    #314 3 years ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    The fact they banned Martin from pinball news from the factory tour is just sad. Gb maybe my last NIB stern..

    I found this pretty sad. The hobby thrives because of people like Martin who invest a lot of time and money to cover news and share the hobby out of a passion. Nate on his pinball podcast also mentioned Stern was 'displeased' with his own comments about the same thing.

    In both cases anything perceptively negative about the price that Stern felt they could muscle out of the 'social news stream' by trying to squash those opinions has only made them look much worse. Perhaps Putin or Kim Jun are now investors in Stern giving direction on how to squash negative opinion. For all of those types of hobbyist have done and do to make the hobby grow to be ignored and stepped on is very offensive to me.

    In my opinion, it shows that Stern isn't as confident as it wants to appear, so instead felt they needed to bully their way into a positive 'impression' with any means possible. A sign that the competition in they hobby is putting pressure on them in very negative ways, seems almost desperate to be punitive for those kinds of reasons.

    #315 3 years ago

    Hi all,
    This is a very tough thread. While Jeff looks at the situation through a hobbyist's eyes (and I did read his well written article) I can add the perspective of the street vendor. To be honest it has been a while since I have seen a pinball that made sense on the street. We used to blame the hobbyist but the reality is that it is a sign of the times. The problem with Stern is there is no major competition. Competition drives new ideas and solutions. I really cannot see where that could come from. Of course we had to change direction a bit and have added pinball sales and a dealership to the mix. This gives a whole other aspect to the pinball industry. The casual home owner with a game room. I can see where Stern has tried to satisfy everyone and maybe has fallen a little short. The only thing I can say is that the quality is way better than we have seen in the industry ever. Talk to old time vendors. I can remember pins that would not work out of the box, waiting weeks for the manufacturer the ship the 'Solution" and having us install it with poor directions. Some pins went through two or three such patches. I also wish that the prices would come down. We don't help ourselves when we willingly pay $10,000 +++ for games like Monsterbash, Cirkus Voltaire, Cactus Canyon ..... and the list goes on. It demonstrates that the money is out there and waiting, for at least the right game. I am not saying those games are not worth the price. It just demonstrates we will pay a lot for the machines we love. Stern is in a no win situation. The market segments are too far apart and different to be able to please all of them. That is definitely what Stern is trying to do. Of course each demographic says "We are the important demo, listen to us!!!" The real issue is that no one segment of the market offers enough to keep any pinball maker solvent. The only answer is that people need to add pressure with their wallets. To a certain extent it is already happening. How many people have a WWE in their collection? The last thing is that if you want to see change try to use constructive criticism. Write well worded letters. Get involved in clubs and other organizations that will have a larger voice. Words written in anger and frustration have a limited ability to bring about change. Stern has taken a large step by becoming dealer based. It gives the customer an important advocate. Dealer, good dealers, care about their customer base. I take any complaint seriously. Unhappy customers effect my living in a negative way. I know the factory hears me. To be fair as well, Stern has been very responsive for anything I have asked for on my customers behalf. This is a complex hobby that is evolving very fast as the technology screams forward. In the end, if we care about this hobby, we will be patient. Be more judicious with your purchases. Finally this is supposed to be fun.......SO HAVE FUN!!

    -Jerry

    32
    #316 3 years ago

    ^^^^ Paragraphs are your friend...................

    12
    #317 3 years ago

    Sorry - had to do it

    Hi all,

    This is a very tough thread. While Jeff looks at the situation through a hobbyist's eyes (and I did read his well written article) I can add the perspective of the street vendor. To be honest it has been a while since I have seen a pinball that made sense on the street. We used to blame the hobbyist but the reality is that it is a sign of the times.

    The problem with Stern is there is no major competition. Competition drives new ideas and solutions. I really cannot see where that could come from. Of course we had to change direction a bit and have added pinball sales and a dealership to the mix. This gives a whole other aspect to the pinball industry.

    The casual home owner with a game room. I can see where Stern has tried to satisfy everyone and maybe has fallen a little short. The only thing I can say is that the quality is way better than we have seen in the industry ever. Talk to old time vendors. I can remember pins that would not work out of the box, waiting weeks for the manufacturer the ship the 'Solution" and having us install it with poor directions.

    Some pins went through two or three such patches. I also wish that the prices would come down. We don't help ourselves when we willingly pay $10,000 +++ for games like Monsterbash, Cirkus Voltaire, Cactus Canyon ..... and the list goes on. It demonstrates that the money is out there and waiting, for at least the right game.

    I am not saying those games are not worth the price. It just demonstrates we will pay a lot for the machines we love. Stern is in a no win situation. The market segments are too far apart and different to be able to please all of them. That is definitely what Stern is trying to do. Of course each demographic says "We are the important demo, listen to us!!!"

    The real issue is that no one segment of the market offers enough to keep any pinball maker solvent. The only answer is that people need to add pressure with their wallets. To a certain extent it is already happening. How many people have a WWE in their collection? The last thing is that if you want to see change try to use constructive criticism.

    Write well worded letters. Get involved in clubs and other organizations that will have a larger voice. Words written in anger and frustration have a limited ability to bring about change. Stern has taken a large step by becoming dealer based. It gives the customer an important advocate.

    Dealer, good dealers, care about their customer base. I take any complaint seriously. Unhappy customers effect my living in a negative way. I know the factory hears me. To be fair as well, Stern has been very responsive for anything I have asked for on my customers behalf. This is a complex hobby that is evolving very fast as the technology screams forward. In the end, if we care about this hobby, we will be patient. Be more judicious with your purchases.

    Finally this is supposed to be fun.......SO HAVE FUN!!
    -Jerry

    #318 3 years ago

    Is it Don or Jeff? Anyway, I mostly agree and my last NIB was STLE. I see two major problems Stern is facing with the collector community. Price and customer service/relations. Quality and innovation can be measured in many ways. I think they are doing great with things like Spike. The games have been fantastic for several years. Not every game can be a hit (WWE), but they have had a lot of big hits in the last few years.

    I am unqualified to tell Stern how to improve manufacturing quality and quality control. I don't believe that anyone in the company wants to ship a bad or sub-par product. These are not fat cats, they all work for a living and have pride in their work. I believe they are working hard to ensure these issues are resolved. Admitting they exist would be good, but that doesn't seem to be their philosophy. I disagree with that.

    In some ways, like Spike, quality and product is good. In others, like decals on Kiss and playfields on GB, not so good. Customer service and relations seems to need overall improvement. Things like bad decals and playfield defects will get customers purchasing luxury items upset pretty quick, IF they feel ignored or blown off. Address their concerns quickly and people will sing praises. I see two areas for improvement.

    First, what is the customer path for problems? I know what they say it is, "talk to your distributor". From an outsiders perspective, not all distributors seem to be equal. How should a new customer know that before spending $5-15,000.00? What is our recourse if the distributor is unhelpful after the sale? Stern should have a pathway for solving this problem. I know there is a person, but it is usually one person with a voicemail. Who tracks satisfaction? Who makes sure concerns are resolved? Who addresses the customer that has annoyed the one person with a voicemail that just gets ignored?

    Second, public relations. In the environment of modern media and social media, they must find a way to take a fresh look at this issue. Banning customers from the Facebook page and banning news providers from events is not the way to project a positive image.

    #319 3 years ago

    I would agree with the statement "not all distributors seem to be equal." I think Stern took a big step forward when it decided to control who sells it's product. I think as time goes on, Stern will weed out the bad apples. One of the things that must be remembered is that this paradigm is new. Up until a few years ago the target market was primarily vendors. The conversion away from that has been done poorly.
    How many people remember attempts using high end catalogs? Then big discount wholesale mega-stores. Then wild cat sellers (flippers, back yard dealers, box bouncers....). They all failed because they lacked one thing. There was no real support for the customer. It took far too long to embrace a dealer model that finally gave the end user a voice.
    I am not sure what can be done about rising prices. If they effect sales enough , then it will be addressed. It might take the shape of a scaled down version. I am not sure that will ever come about. As I had previously mentioned, there are so many used titles selling for much higher. I think the real issue is about quality control and customer satisfaction. What can be done to give the end user a voice. I think that being heard would go a long way toward satisfaction.
    I am a pinball seller. We restore many old titles but realize that new titles are very important to the future of this hobby. If you are a true hobbyist then you have to realize that Stern is very important. The used market could never support the current demand for pinball. The old Bally, Williams, Gottlieb, Data East (and so on) are becoming more challenging to restore as replacement parts are becoming furiously harder to procure.
    As a dealer I would be willing to work toward helping bridge the gap. I can tell you all that it is extremely frustrating to read some of these issues. We (most dealers) want to see eager and happy customers. I feel like it is part of my responsibility to facilitate a good relationship between the end user and the manufacturer. Without getting into a bitch fest, with the idea of constructive and positive attempt to improve things: What do you want from the Dealers and from Stern?

    -J

    #320 3 years ago
    Quoted from Nevus:

    Is it Don or Jeff?

    Jeff

    Quoted from Nevus:

    I am unqualified to tell Stern how to improve manufacturing quality and quality control

    If you watched the video stream yesterday, they showed a worker checking each playfield over a light table. He said he was checking for chips, wrong colored inserts, etc. I have watched every factory tour video and never saw a light table check when they walked by the playfields, so I'm guessing this is something new since the playfield issues (though I can't confirm this).
    light-table_stern (resized).jpg
    qc_playfield_check_stern (resized).jpg

    This is a good step, but the ghosting issue isn't likely something off the factory floor, most owners saw this after a hundred plays. So either the ball hitting it is loosening it (because it hadn't fully cured), or the process sucks and you'll get a random fallout of bad product. It's my understanding that they changed vendors for playfields without properly testing them, which bit them. At my job, if I swap out a part for a more cost effective one, our testing department has to send samples to test customers to life test them for 2-3 months to verify they are equivalent, even if the specifications of material are identical.

    Quoted from Nevus:

    What is our recourse if the distributor is unhelpful after the sale? Stern should have a pathway for solving this problem. I know there is a person, but it is usually one person with a voicemail. Who tracks satisfaction? Who makes sure concerns are resolved? Who addresses the customer that has annoyed the one person with a voicemail that just gets ignored?

    At my company, our customer service calls and emails are logged and copied into a database, and we send out quarterly statistics to everyone in the company (percentage of calls, which product, what the issue was). Our service department decides between them and distributors (who have to deal with customer returns or service repairs) which are the hot issues and that comes back to engineering to resolve. This is not hard to setup, it's either laziness, ignorance, or the volume just isn't there to hire someone to deal with all of this. The video yesterday also confirmed that Stern aims to build 55-60 pins a day. If production never takes a break, that's between 14.3k - 15.6k pins shipped per year. It's a far cry from mass production.

    Typically our service issues are always below 1% which is pretty good for a manufacturer that builds easily a million units across the product line. 1% at Stern would be 150 pinballs per year with issues big enough for a customer to complain and customer service. I'm willing to bet that percentage is probably closer to 2-3%, at least in 2016.

    #321 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballAlley:

    I would agree with the statement "not all distributors seem to be equal." I think Stern took a big step forward when it decided to control who sells it's product. I think as time goes on, Stern will weed out the bad apples. One of the things that must be remembered is that this paradigm is new. Up until a few years ago the target market was primarily vendors. The conversion away from that has been done poorly.
    How many people remember attempts using high end catalogs? Then big discount wholesale mega-stores. Then wild cat sellers (flippers, back yard dealers, box bouncers....). They all failed because they lacked one thing. There was no real support for the customer. It took far too long to embrace a dealer model that finally gave the end user a voice.
    I am not sure what can be done about rising prices. If they effect sales enough , then it will be addressed. It might take the shape of a scaled down version. I am not sure that will ever come about. As I had previously mentioned, there are so many used titles selling for much higher. I think the real issue is about quality control and customer satisfaction. What can be done to give the end user a voice. I think that being heard would go a long way toward satisfaction.
    I am a pinball seller. We restore many old titles but realize that new titles are very important to the future of this hobby. If you are a true hobbyist then you have to realize that Stern is very important. The used market could never support the current demand for pinball. The old Bally, Williams, Gottlieb, Data East (and so on) are becoming more challenging to restore as replacement parts are becoming furiously harder to procure.
    As a dealer I would be willing to work toward helping bridge the gap. I can tell you all that it is extremely frustrating to read some of these issues. We (most dealers) want to see eager and happy customers. I feel like it is part of my responsibility to facilitate a good relationship between the end user and the manufacturer. Without getting into a bitch fest, with the idea of constructive and positive attempt to improve things: What do you want from the Dealers and from Stern?
    -J

    What are your thoughts on the talk of Stern setting up a retail store ?
    Can you see Stern ever circumventing the distributors and selling direct to the consumer ?

    #322 3 years ago

    I thought the Stern Store chatter was not directly affiliated with Stern rather some guy opening his own thing in PA.

    #323 3 years ago
    Quoted from BOBCADE:

    I thought the Stern Store chatter was not directly affiliated with Stern rather some guy opening his own thing in PA.

    Oh right.
    Interesting discussion though. Could Stern cut out the middle man ?

    #324 3 years ago

    I can't wait for the Apple copy-cat mentality from all industries to die off.

    #325 3 years ago
    Quoted from stoptap:

    Oh right.
    Interesting discussion though. Could Stern cut out the middle man ?

    Stern won't do that for the bulk of games... too much hassle will be thrown into their lap

    #326 3 years ago

    buy used.

    #327 3 years ago

    Interesting thread that is fun to read from the side lines.
    I never bought into the NIB Stern craze. Played them at shows
    and found the build quality to be poor, game play to be just OK
    in most cases and layout too dependent on toys and gimicks that
    did nothing for game play.

    I'll stick with the classic pins of earlier eras. For me the modern golden
    ago of pins were the games of the 1990's like ST:TNG, Roadshow,
    TZ and Adams Family along with a few others.
    Steve

    21
    #328 3 years ago
    Quoted from Shapeshifter:

    The problem with Stern is there is no major competition.

    Not from one company....but now there are 5 or more. Combined there are a bunch of really cool games on the horizon.

    On Stern, ...I've been waiting to get a Ghostbusters or Star Wars. After they banned Pinball News from the factory tour and party my plans have changed. Now I will wait for Alien or the next Spooky and JJP game. That kind of action should not go unpunished. Just my opinion.

    #329 3 years ago
    Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

    "Stern has no reason to care about collectors when they only remain in the hobby for less than five years, and own purchased games for an even shorter amount of time."

    Someone asked this early... I'm curious too...

    where is this quote from?

    #330 3 years ago

    Maybe print out this thread and send to the investors via certified mail.

    #331 3 years ago

    One of the statements I have to disagree with is that Stern doesn't care about their customers. In all my dealings with them, the one thing that comes through, is that they do care about it. I think one of the problems is that they really are having a hard time expressing it. I do know that they have recently hired some fine people to work on the relationship.

    It is true there are some new companies that have exciting products. They will have the same issues as Stern. Distribution is a problem for the industry and even though Stern has tried every which way to get around it, good distribution is essential. One of the things that many hobbyist overlook, especially the ones that come here, is that they possess a much greater knowledge of the way pinballs work. The fastest growing segment is the casual regular buyer. That person is the exact opposite of the vendor that the industry grew up around. They do not want to set up their own games. They want to pay for the piece, have it set up and expect a meaningful warranty .

    Someone asked if I was concerned about Stern selling direct. I have to answer no. The more complex the games become and the more expensive they become, the more the buyer is going to expect the maker to stand behind their product. That goes for all the makers. Really it is the real issue behind most of the lack of satisfaction. Our business has grown significantly, not because we are very nice and charming people (of course we are I can almost be sure that it is because we offer a 1 year warranty. This is far beyond the factory warranty.

    The point isn't that we are great. The point is that people need and expect that after paying this much for a machine, be it a car, or a furnace, washer and dryer, and even a pinball, want a secure feeling that the maker will stand behind their product. I wholeheartedly agree with them. The answer is that Stern must stand behind it's product and induce it's dealers to develop a strong service department. As we move into the next generation of Pinballs it will be even more obvious.

    I have brought this point up several times to Stern. They do know about it but I think they are not sure how to make it happen. One of the things is to make dealers service the pinballs they sell. The second is to offer training to the companies whose techs need it. The buyer has some responsibility. They must demand the kind of service they expect. In many instances they are. It has been a case of an unplanned evolution where the focus of the industry shifted from vendors to others end users. When I look at a new pinball and see the coin mechanisms on the door, it is easy to see the tail wagging the dog. It will change. It has too.

    I must state that I do think Stern cares. I see it all the time. I wish they would be faster in the implementing of some customer satisfaction policies. They are a cautious company and that has served them well. I do believe they are on the correct path. Like most of you, I am anxious for some of the changes. Patience is a virtue I wish I had more of. Getting old has helped a little. The best advice I can pass along is that when you go to buy your next new pinball (Stern or Otherwise) you need to seek out dealers who will stand behind what they sell in writing. If you have purchased a machine and have reasons you are unhappy then you should write a constructive letter to the person who needs to read it. (In Stern's case, G .Stern) The minute you tell a person to go F*** themselves is the minute they stop listening.

    -J

    13
    #332 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballAlley:

    One of the statements I have to disagree with is that Stern doesn't care about their customers. In all my dealings with them, the one thing that comes through, is that they do care about it. I think one of the problems is that they really are having a hard time expressing it. I do know that they have recently hired some fine people to work on the relationship.

    -J

    I believe that some of the people working there really do care, but the person at the top doesn't. There is clear evidence to support this, from the comments made by Gary when Spiderman came out and people were complaining that the code wasn't finished on RGP. Rather than 'fix the code' Gary wanted to delete the comments, lol. That is not the sign of somebody who is interested in what their customers have to say. A company that hides the problems rather than addressing them isn't a company that cares about it's customers. See their facebook policy, anything that asks about issues gets deleted immediately and bans the user, lol.

    #333 3 years ago
    Quoted from taylor34:

    I believe that some of the people working there really do care, but the person at the top doesn't

    It's absolutely true. Lyman works on his time off to finish code sometimes. You know Steve Ritchie would love to just build a full featured game across the board, but instead that gets reserved for LE/premium (and even then, I'm sure there are things taken out from the original design because of costs). Look I know in the end a business exists to make money, they aren't going to sell pinball at cost, or for the love of pinball. But man, some of these upper management types need to get in touch with reality. Maybe Gary Stern needs to go on the show "undercover boss"

    14
    #334 3 years ago

    I've been a long time Stern Pinball fan myself... Still not done with them.

    Stern had some hiccups with play fields. They have addressed the issue, and communicated to their distributors that they will take care of people affected by the issue... why all the useless drama!??? Some people act like they won't be happy until they see Gomez, and Gary crying on Anderson Cooper about how the company made terrible mistakes... seriously? What is it going to take? Stern admitted there was an issue, and put a plan in place to deal with it. I've moved on from that problem. I received my GBle, and started enjoying it immediately. If there had been a problem with my playfield, I had no fears whatsoever that my issues would be resolved. My distro cares about me as a good loyal customer, and Stern cares about me as a repeat buyer. They will NEVER make the type of statement people are claiming to require before they purchase another NIB Stern. Why would they??!! The number of people affected is small, and they are being dealt with. There is some imaginary concern for people who might have play field issues, but are unaware of the program because they're not hardcore pin nerds like us... really?? We're going to make a big stink in case people we don't know are having an issue that they are unaware of/don't care about?

    Another commonly repeated phrase is "Prices are up, while quality is down"... it's said a lot, but I simply don't think it's true. I think the build quality of my Sterns is awesome. I have a few Gottleib's, some BWs too. I have a Spooky pin. I have a JJP.

    The price and rollout of the new BM66 pin was a bit hard to take... I'll give you that one! I still ordered one, cause it's an absolute grail theme for me with Lyman on code, and Gomez stepping in to refine a BDK layout. I always enjoyed that machine, but never pulled the trigger. An improvement on that layout, with a better theme... I'm in!

    Pinball is supposed to be fun. Stern has given me HANDS DOWN some of the best pinball experiences of all time...

    HORDE Mode on my TWDpre might be the most spectacular and immersive pinball mode ever. It's a masterpiece.

    Metallica's Crank it Up modes are SO FUN!!! Also, just the sheer fun and complexity of Met code. I NEVER tire of playing that game. It's the spirit of pinball in my opinion!

    I HATED my ST for a LONG time. I was SO disappointed with where the code was stagnating... then an update changed everything. Amazing game. Truly fun to play. Everybody ragged on the star field projector, but Klingon Multiball is AWESOME. It's an incredibly hard mode, and super engaging. Sound and lights on that machine are incredible.

    Not even getting in to LOTR, TRON, AC/DC etc etc etc etc.

    I passed on WWE, KISS, and GOT, but BM66 has me super excited.

    I have a Hobbit, and I'm interested to see more about Dialed In.

    I think Spooky Pinball are amazing. AMH is one of my fav pins of all time.

    One of my fav pins at expo this year was Scott Danesi's Total Annihilation.

    There is no question I'm a hardcore Stern fan, but I'm also just a fan of pinball in general. I like it all!

    I will continue to support Stern pinball moving forward because they make amazing games. It's that simple. I just don't care about all the drama, and speculation.

    Happy flipping everybody.

    14
    #335 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballAlley:

    One of the statements I have to disagree with is that Stern doesn't care about their customers. In all my dealings with them, the one thing that comes through, is that they do care about it. I think one of the problems is that they really are having a hard time expressing it. I do know that they have recently hired some fine people to work on the relationship.

    Sorry, but this one made me laugh audibly at work. Stern's PR is TERRIBLE. How many years have they been banning people from their Facebook page when asking legitimate questions? I am not even talking about people trying to make Stern bad or shame them like the Where's the Code crap. Just the honest to goodness questions that you constantly hear got someone banned.

    10
    #336 3 years ago
    Quoted from MapleSyrup:

    Stern had some hiccups with play fields. They have addressed the issue, and communicated to their distributors that they will take care of people affected by the issue... why all the useless drama!??? Some people act like they won't be happy until they see Gomez, and Gary crying on Anderson Cooper about how the company made terrible mistakes... seriously? What is it going to take? Stern admitted there was an issue, and put a plan in place to deal with it. I've moved on from that problem

    Where to start? It took Stern months and months to admit there were quality issues with playfields (and to be compensated, your playfield issues need to be bad enough to be considered replaced). A Six sigma company (or at least a professional company) would have cosmetic specs of what's considered a defect. No instead it's (let me look at your photo and I shall be the judge of that), or at the very least some sort of reasonable agreement with buyers. I believe their own guarantee even loosely states that so long as the machine is functioning, if there are defects they aren't covered by warranty.

    When I picked up AMH from spooky, the cabinet had a scratch in it. They could have just sent me home and said "we'll send you decals in the mail), but when I pointed it out and Charlie immediately said "that's unacceptable", wheeled it back into the shop, spent the next hour doing a QC check on another build they had waiting even though they had dinner plans and kids to pick up from sports, and I went home with a perfect game.

    This isn't even about fairness or what's right. Have some effing pride in your product Gary, do you not care about your reputation?

    #337 3 years ago
    Quoted from toyotaboy:

    d "we'll send you decals in the mail), but when I pointed it out and Charlie immediately said "that's unacceptable", wheeled it back into the shop, spent the next hour doing a QC check on another build they had waiting even though they had dinner plans and kids to pick up from sports, and I went home with a perfect game.

    Now this is customer service! Let me tell you something. When Stern needed the business years ago code was coming shipped with machines. They needed to build a reputation. Now their head is bloated. Every game is rushed out the door with issues and incomplete
    code. They got so greedy to make the money that they have Batman 1966 unveiled at an expo which no one could play. Come on already.
    Code code code! You have programmers who are the rock stars of the pinball community from Williams that can finish the code. Give them
    some slack and let them finish the games already. This is utterly ridiculous. Pinball machines escalting in the 12-15k value range which is
    unfinished product? Are you kidding me? How can people keep shiny lit up chrismtas tree boxes at this rate? Codes needed are: Kiss,
    GB, ST, Xmen, WWE and I'm sure I"m missing some more here. When do you think catch up time will be to fix these machines? I'll tell you when, on the programmer's own time on the weekends. What does that tell you......... Bad business... Do I like Stern machines, yes.. But only when they are coded and complete. Having games without code just kills the business. Want to make it up to the collectors and
    vendors Stern, put up the code and give a crap for a change. Listen to your customers and open your ears.

    #338 3 years ago
    Quoted from spfxted:

    On Stern, ...I've been waiting to get a Ghostbusters or Star Wars. After they banned Pinball News from the factory tour and party my plans have changed. Now I will wait for Alien or the next Spooky and JJP game. That kind of action should not go unpunished. Just my opinion.

    I presume Stern took action after this article was published?

    Quoted from solarvalue:

    There's also an unusually negative article in Pinball News entitled: "HOLY CASH COW! BATMAN 66 DETAILS REVEALED"

    http://www.pinballnews.com/games/batman66/index3.html

    Why did Pinball News change the title of the article, and what else did they change?

    #339 3 years ago

    Why can smaller companies like Heighway, Spooky and Jersey Jack have codes on new games close to completion when shipped and Stern cant do the same. The showing at expo of the batman 66 with a non playable game with expecting deposits is beyond me. Caveat Emptor! With this practice Stern will continue to lose customers. We all like their games and would like to patronize them, however, this type of business practice will discourage allot of buyers, including myself.

    #340 3 years ago
    Quoted from jkashani:

    With this practice Stern will continue to lose customers. .

    Stern is losing customers?

    Do you have any evidence to back this up?

    Seems like they are doing better than ever. Companies generally don't raise prices when their sales are slumping.

    #341 3 years ago

    This is an interesting thread - strong opinions. My take is that Stern was built as a factory aimed at operators. It wasn't many years ago, that most collectors felt alienated by comments from Gary at Expo, that basically put collectors into a small box of buyers of Stern - and they didn't care about the home market. Then about 6 years ago, we started seeing LE - LoTR was the first? - for the focus on the collectors. Pros for operators, LE for collectors. Then we saw Premiums for the home buyer non-collector. The failed idea of low end home users, in the Costco Batman or TF, didn't last long - that was for all those saying were prices were too high for NIB, remember?

    Now I do think the market has changed, with Spooky going for pinheads, made by pinheads. Jack is going for high-end quality in response to cheapening of machines, and those who complained of stripped out features - so JJP put out a jam-packed WoZ with 3 PF and custom toys, and color SPX videos, and Hobbit couldn't get any more stuff under the PF if you tried.

    What we are seeing now, is way overestimating of demand beyond the 8k LE versions. There may be a market for $12-15k collector machines with the extra $3k-$5k price sold as the "collector" factor - signatures, low (sort of) quantities, custom art or powder coat, extra cool topper, etc. We all agree there isn't 3-5k of stuff added, its the collector rareness signed whatever. Its very clear now that the highest priced stuff is aimed at buyers who don't care about the price, but the collectible factor.

    I see BM66 as a game that skipped over operators by not having a pro. Without a price point to make $ on route, and operator buys a GB pro, then 3 of the 2017 Stern pros.

    I agree with the OP - the extra service or quality a collector might expect, isn't happening now at Stern - at least for the GBLE (although it does seem the ghosting PF are being addressed for LE buyers). I think you get the extra stuff in a JJP pin, and I have Stern STLE and GotLE, and Spooky - so I have bought from everyone. I doubt I will buy any more LE either. For me, a standard DialedIn or Spooky #3 is more desirable than a $10k BM Premium.

    The big difference for me in 2017 - I'll MAYBE buy one NIB. I have to sell one to buy one; I doubt I'll buy 2 or 3 NIB like I did in 2013 or 2014. So the competition will be the difference for me - best game play, quality - theme doesn't really matter to me, as much as game play now.

    The market has changed - the prices we've seen at Expo, assume the market hasn't changed. There is smaller demand from those of us who've been building collections. Many in this thread seem to be out of space, out of $ or interest in LE's. I'm one of them. I predict a sharp decline in demand for LE's in 2017, and lower prices of NIB that is sitting in dealer inventory. There will be some cheaper NIB of these titles sitting on the shelves come next October.

    I can still buy a Prem Met, ACDC, GB, TWD. There will be a long run of BM66 Prem. I will see Spooky's game next year. I will be able to play DialedIN. So I will have played 6 or 7 of the tables still being made in 2017, and maybe buy 1 of them. Let the prices start dropping next summer - and we will see how it compares to the Expo 2016 October surprises of stick shock.

    #342 3 years ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Stern is losing customers?
    Do you have any evidence to back this up?
    Seems like they are doing better than ever. Companies generally don't raise prices when their sales are slumping.

    I would say this thread is evidence of Stern losing customers.

    Doesn't mean they aren't also gaining customers elsewhere.

    #343 3 years ago

    Friends of mine who are collectors have stated that they will never buy NIB sterns, banter on threads like these etc. I don't know to what evidence you would otherwise be referring to, however, I am sure everyone can agree that Stern has ruffled some collectors feathers. Hence threads like these. I hope they stick around as I do have and enjoy their games.

    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    Stern is losing customers?
    Do you have any evidence to back this up?
    Seems like they are doing better than ever. Companies generally don't raise prices when their sales are slumping.

    #344 3 years ago

    I just can't buy another NIB Stern.

    They now operate like arrogant buffoons and are no longer worthy of my 7-8K every 6 months.

    #345 3 years ago

    Who ever stated that Stern is losing customers is wrong. They may be losing from the hard core collector base but the casual market is on fire. It is to the point where it is starting to blow my mind. Every day we have regular folks come in wanting pinballs. I am not sure what is fueling the demand. I hear almost daily "We have just finished our game room and want some video games and pinball machines." They proceed to play several games and decide on a Ms. Pacman, Galaga, a classic pin(Addams Family, ToM, CFTBL, TZ ) and a couple of new Sterns. Then they whip out their credit card and the next biggest concern is when can we deliver and set up. They don't haggle on price and tip my delivery people.

    In my mind, the real question is if this is the way it is or passing fancy. Time will tell. I love pinball and I love to see releases regardless of the maker. I look at Ghost Busters, Batman 66, The Big Lebowski, Dialed in, Alien, Dominos, and the zombie stuff,(I am missing some but I forget more than I used too.) I cannot recall so much cool stuff. If someone asked me what the heyday of pinball was like, I would have to say "Look Around because it is NOW!"

    #346 3 years ago
    Quoted from PinballAlley:

    Who ever stated that Stern is losing customers is wrong. They may be losing from the hard core collector base but the casual market is on fire. It is to the point where it is starting to blow my mind. Every day we have regular folks come in wanting pinballs. I am not sure what is fueling the demand.

    A huge amount of it comes from video gaming. Things like Pinball Arcade and Pinball FX2 have gotten people into playing pinball on their computers and consoles. Some of Stern's machines are available in Pinball Arcade and likely drove up the sales and prices of older games like Ripley's.

    You can play Medieval Madness or Monster Bash, with good graphics and decent physics, for only a few dollars with Pinball Arcade. I'm sure a lot of people played the digital versions and then started buying the real thing. Or saw the price tags of some games and decided to buy newer pins or explore who was still manufacturing to see if they could own a real game.

    #347 3 years ago

    Once again, Stern customer service has been very helpful for me on a few games...I think it's fair to say GOT shipped with damn near complete and amazing code (I own a pro).
    I had a deposit on a BM66LE, but once the deadline for refunds passed and there was no gameplay, they forced my hand to back out. I'm not mad or upset about it, but had to make a decision and I did. Picked up a sweet AMH instead (happy as hell), and I'll wait to play the next few titles from all the manufacturers.
    Why all the hostility?

    #348 3 years ago

    I just bought a Met Pro from Trent Augenstein @ Tilt. If you don't know Trent, he's active in PAPA and other pinball orgs (one of the top players). I asked him point blank about Met issues I've read in pinside and he said he hasn't seen them and if there is an issue, he'll resolve him.

    So we may chat this and that but I'm getting my info from the dealer himself and more importantly a hard core pinhead in the scene (a players' player). I'm buying based on his rep and if he says it's good, who am I to say otherwise.

    #349 3 years ago
    Quoted from Jvspin:

    I would say this thread is evidence of Stern losing customers.

    Not really.

    It's mostly just a lot of hot air. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

    #350 3 years ago
    Quoted from dung:

    Sorry, but this one made me laugh audibly at work. Stern's PR is TERRIBLE. How many years have they been banning people from their Facebook page when asking legitimate questions? I am not even talking about people trying to make Stern bad or shame them like the Where's the Code crap. Just the honest to goodness questions that you constantly hear got someone banned.

    PR is terrible (god awful) but their service department is first rate. It's almost like they don't work for the same company.

    Code department is another department which is good or bad. I wish they could be more consistent in the code. I realize there will always be better code here and there. But to me, if you saw XM code for 2 years and ST code for at least a year being unplayable (XM) or just meh (ST) and Stern getting thousands of e-mails or messages to the effect. You would think the higher ups would say this is going too far and they would sit their code guys down and say get you act together.

    I see that Stern had pins in the pipeline and can't stop the endless parade of new pins and they all need code. But they just need to communicate better such as saying I know this code is broken we will be fixing it. Instead they don't say anything or make promises and just let the deadline pass. plus valid suggestions or bug fixes are ignored completely.

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