Interesting, Holy_Pickle, as I have not really noticed most of these things in my LOTR SE, but will certainly keep an eye out even more now. The only things I have noticed on my LOTR is that, every once in awhile, the ball will bounce out of the lock after going down the sword ramp and that the magnet does not always pull the ball back under the backbox area when it should (I have had the magnet checked by a tech. and it works fine).
I would say, though, that even though I have not experienced the items you mentioned there is one that I might not due to a slight adjustment that has been made. Instead of a diverter there was one of the Army of the Dead soldiers placed there. Now, when the ball hits the soldier it always falls where it is supposed to.
I am sorry, though, that you have not had a good experience with Stern. Yet maybe giving TSPP a go, or another LOTR, might help change that?
P.S.- I, in no way, think you are trying to start an argument regarding Stern or LOTR. And, as such, I feel you are very justified to feel like this towards any machine, especially when they often cost $2000-6000 US. I was just curious why you thought as you did.