Another thread made me think of starting this thread for operator's stories. So you want to be an Op. Just put your games out and earn money. It's easy! Well, this is the place to share stories and things you might not think of when considering starting this adventure.
First of all, none of this should be taken as a complaint about my locations or the owners. They're great and I couldn't ask for better. But you can never totally prepare for what people will throw at you.
First thing to think about is your location is most likely a restaurant or bar. Their main intent is to sell food and drinks. Pinball is important because it brings in customers, but it is a much lower concern than the daily operations and employee issues. Often a much lower concern.
Second thing to realize is that there is a ton of employee turnover in the restaurant business. The location can tell every employee how to treat and handle issues with the pins, but those lessons will get forgotten, ignored, or not passed on as people come and go. Also, you're often dealing with 16-18 year old kids at their first job. They know nothing about pinball and frankly don't care if your game is turned off. If the game is causing them problems when they are busy and the restaurant is full, it gives them no trouble when it is turned off. So off it goes, or an out of order sign is placed on it. The owner and manager care, but they can't be everywhere and see everything.
Now for the stories.
This one should be no surprise, it happens in one way or another all the time:
Mom: "Which pinball machines work?"
Server: "They all work"
Mom: "We put money in three of them and none of them worked."
Server: "Did you press the start button?"
Mom: "Start button?"
Then you have the kid genius that figures out how to shut off the games and does so. The mom thinks it is funny and doesn't tell him to turn them back on. If it wasn't for a local patron seeing this happen, the games probably would have stayed off for quite a while on a Friday night, if not the rest of the night. Luckily the patron scolded the kid and turned the games back on. But the 18 year old employees probably wouldn't have noticed the games were off. And if they did, they probably would have left them off because they figured they were off for a reason.
Every think about the vent holes on a pizza box? When they are punched out, how big are they? About the size of a quarter. So if an employee is setting up boxes and doesn't clean up every hole that falls out of a box when folding them a kid finds the little round piece of cardboard. Where does that piece of cardboard go? In a coin slot. Game out of commission if they find two pieces or if the other slot gets jammed.
A woman puts 50 cents in a game, then realizes it is 75 cents to play. She gets an employee and wants the money back because she doesn't want to spend 75 cents. The employee explains that once the money goes in it doesn't come back out. "But it has coin return buttons!" Well, those are in case a coin jams. It doesn't give money back. "But it has a coin return! It should give me the money back! I want my 50 cents back!" They gave her 50 cents to get her to shut up.
People set things on games. The things don't get moved. Nobody notices, or nobody bothers to move it because they think it is there for a reason. And kids won't move something that is set on a game, they just go to the next game. So the game earns nothing until you come in, see it, and remove it. Hopefully a manager or the owner noticed and took it off quickly, but who knows how often this happens and you don't know about it.
Speaking of setting things on games, here's what I came in to one morning:
Another setting things on games story. For the outside tables the pizza place uses cardboard 6 pack bottle holders to hold the Parmesan cheese shaker, chili pepper shaker, salt and and pepper, and menus. They keep the holders inside, but when someone sits outside they bring them the 6 pack holder with all the goods in it. We start a tournament and I don't realize one of the 6 pack holders is sitting on top of a game's backbox. We're a little ways in and of course there's a bit of nudging and the holder falls off onto the playfield glass. The Parmesan shaker hits squarely on the glass and makes a horrible crash, it bounces off the glass and onto the floor and breaks. Fortunately the glass on the pin survived, but that could have been really bad.
And of course you get complaints when you put in games with racy artwork that feature too much cleavage. Below is what I'm talking about. Yes, the owner got a complaint about this. No joke.
Back to kid geniuses. They are Wiley Coyote type of geniuses that figure if you put a bill in the changer and pull it out quickly, you'll get to keep the bill and it will still give you quarters. Nobody has ever thought of that! So what happens? Yep, half a bill jammed in your changer and it is out of order. And of course it is the first bill put in it after you've emptied it.
Kids often stick their hand right under the coin chute of the changer as it is dispensing the coins. When the changer is dumping out $5 or $10 in quarters they overflow back into the changer and fall inside. So the kid gets shorted money. They often don't notice. But if they do it is my fault that the brat shoved his hand under the chute and backed up the change inside the machine.
I'll stop there. More to come if I think of it.