(Topic ID: 127257)

Stern Tech Support blew me away

By OldHarley

9 years ago


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    #1 9 years ago

    I just dread calling a tech support number. Typically you call and you get a your call is important please hold on....we can answer your phone call in 39 minutes....So my Avengers LE went down. I posted on here and read some posts but I thought I really need to verify some things before I start blowing fuses. I called Stern Tech support today and two rings Pat picks up. Not only that he walked me through several trouble shooting tips. Had me get my meter and check a couple of transistors on one of the auxiliary board. Found the two bad ones and then gave me a part number. I asked about a broken plastic I had and he said "oh there is a warranty kit out for that" and gave me the part number. Two thumbs up for the most amazing tech support phone call I've ever had.

    #2 9 years ago

    Agree Stern tech support is great. Pat is always very helpful

    #3 9 years ago

    Not to be a stick in the mud but I wish they were that good with playfield issues.

    My distro is still waiting to hear back on my concave issue around my magnet on my Metallica. A little over a year old and the balls are just rolling crazy out from around the magnet because the playfield in tapered down.

    One of my favorite games too

    I guess I'll keep waitng

    #4 9 years ago

    Stern tech support is top notch.

    #5 9 years ago

    Chaz is good to. Sent me a new CPU board that went out on my Metallica. It didn't have sound anymore, he walked me through some things to try and after 45 min. on the phone realized I need a new board. Game was out of warranty to. They're top notch in customer service IMO.

    #6 9 years ago

    I guess a playfield is not as important(easy) as sending out boards...

    I think I'm going to follow up now.

    #7 9 years ago

    I called once and spoke with Chas and was asked why I was calling them about a problem I had with a NIB game and not my distributor for repair. Uh, because my distributor is in state but 6 hours away. So I called my distributor.

    Neither took care of the problem.

    With that kind of treatment and the code issues I've waited through, no more NIB games.

    F you, Stern!

    #8 9 years ago
    Quoted from Sc1f1:

    Not to be a stick in the mud but I wish they were that good with playfield issues.
    My distro is still waiting to hear back on my concave issue around my magnet on my Metallica. A little over a year old and the balls are just rolling crazy out from around the magnet because the playfield in tapered down.
    One of my favorite games too
    I guess I'll keep waitng

    What do you mean your Metallica playfield is 'tapered down'? The playfield on my MET Premium is warped and I've been trying for over 2 months to get it fixed. Chas finally said they would send me a return box for the playfield and they would replace/repopulate with a new one, but that's 11 days ago now and I haven't heard anything since. Some followup would be nice so I'm not left guessing if they forgot me yet again.

    Rob

    #9 9 years ago

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    #10 9 years ago

    Stern's website is a wip. They are missing the os update for the whitestar soundboard. Emailed them and got a response with the file in something like 30 minutes. Was pretty blown away.

    #11 9 years ago

    Stern is great for Tech support, but if you have an issue that would cost Stern money to fix good luck! In my experience Patrick has given me the run around, three weeks plus to get a return email is standard. I had an issue with the clear coat on a NIB I emailed Patrick with pics and finally I got an "I've seen worse and we have games out at various test locations with worse clear coats than your game and they havnt been a problem"

    I have not been impressed.. JMHO

    #12 9 years ago

    I went to their online help. Entered in a ticket for a transistor that blew (TIP120) on my STLE (flasher between pop bumpers) while it was under warranty. After 2 weeks of not hearing from anyone I entered a second ticket. Got an email from Pat pretty quickly but the phone number he left for me was wrong an it was a pay phone sex line that I called from my work phone (no joke! not too cool). Got the number straightened out and called. Talked to someone else (forgot their name) and they told me to take it to an electronics store and have them fix it. I'll do it myself but I thought being under warranty I'd get a new board sent out and just send this one back. I know you need to work on these yourself but it seemed like the right thing to call and make sure your not voiding anything by cutting out components and soldering yourself on the boards. They did know the part numbers and what I needed to do to replace it, so I guess that was good.

    --Kevin

    #13 9 years ago
    Quoted from tktlwyr:

    I called once and spoke with Chas and was asked why I was calling them about a problem I had with a NIB game and not my distributor for repair. Uh, because my distributor is in state but 6 hours away. So I called my distributor.
    Neither took care of the problem.
    With that kind of treatment and the code issues I've waited through, no more NIB games.
    F you, Stern!

    Why didn't you call your distributor? He is the person that is there to help you with the game first. That is why Stern does not sell direct. You also need to learn to help yourself and not rely on them to hold your hand. Its nice when they have the time to do so but sometimes they do not. Call your distributor, its his responsibility. I have yet to have someone talk to Stern with a legitimate problem and not get the problem resolved.

    #14 9 years ago
    Quoted from Sc1f1:

    IMG_2332.JPG (Click image to enlarge)IMG_2333.JPG (Click image to enlarge)IMG_2334.JPG (Click image to enlarge)IMG_2341.JPG (Click image to enlarge)

    This is completely normal playfield wear. There is nothing wrong with your game.

    #15 9 years ago
    Quoted from Cappi:

    I went to their online help. Entered in a ticket for a transistor that blew (TIP120) on my STLE (flasher between pop bumpers) while it was under warranty. After 2 weeks of not hearing from anyone I entered a second ticket. Got an email from Pat pretty quickly but the phone number he left for me was wrong an it was a pay phone sex line that I called from my work phone (no joke! not too cool). Got the number straightened out and called. Talked to someone else (forgot their name) and they told me to take it to an electronics store and have them fix it. I'll do it myself but I thought being under warranty I'd get a new board sent out and just send this one back. I know you need to work on these yourself but it seemed like the right thing to call and make sure your not voiding anything by cutting out components and soldering yourself on the boards. They did know the part numbers and what I needed to do to replace it, so I guess that was good.
    --Kevin

    Why did you not call your distributor? He is the person that has to send boards in for replacement and then give you a new one. That is the process and it makes sense. You do not have an account with Stern, your distributor does. This is not out of the norm of any other industry.

    #16 9 years ago
    Quoted from Rob_G:

    What do you mean your Metallica playfield is 'tapered down'? The playfield on my MET Premium is warped and I've been trying for over 2 months to get it fixed. Chas finally said they would send me a return box for the playfield and they would replace/repopulate with a new one, but that's 11 days ago now and I haven't heard anything since. Some followup would be nice so I'm not left guessing if they forgot me yet again.
    Rob

    Your playfield was in fact warped and you deserve a new one. I remember seeing your thread, that sucks and I hope you get it worked out with them. Keep in mind they are in the middle of a move and that it may be a difficult time to get anything moving along. I would suggest calling in to check up on them. Let me know if you have any problems.

    #17 9 years ago

    I've had them blow me away with fantastic service on replacement parts, and then blow me off on some other issues that (in my opinion) should have been covered. They also blew me off on a board that puked 6 weeks after the warranty expired.

    Overall though I have to give them a very high rating for their service.

    JJP is at 100% so far though including parts/repairs that are after the warranty expired. I think we are all fortunate that both of these companies do take pretty good care of us overall. Too bad car dealers do not treat us so well.

    #18 9 years ago
    Quoted from inhomearcades:

    This is completely normal playfield wear. There is nothing wrong with your game.

    That is not normal for HUO only game. I have 2 other collectors in my area with MET pros got about the same time as I did when it came out. Only mine is doing this at the moment.

    My SM & IM don't have that issue and they are older games...

    #19 9 years ago
    Quoted from Sc1f1:

    That is not normal for HUO only game. I have 2 other collectors in my area with MET pros got about the same time as I did when it came out. Only mine is doing this at the moment.
    My SM & IM don't have that issue and they are older games...

    Its normal. Don't know what to tell you. Its wood and your running a steal ball over it with a magnet attempting to pull it down. It happens on a lot of games. This is normal.

    #20 9 years ago

    maybe it's the clearcoat being worn down?
    I'm guessing mylar over the magnet area would help.

    #21 9 years ago

    I got my first NIB in March, a Star Trek Premium. Noticed after a few days that one of the color changing LEDs wasn't producing red. Found the part number for the board, and called 1-800-KNOCKERS.

    OOOPPPS! That wasn't Stern's number. Realized my mistake and called 1-800-KICKERS. Spoke with Chas. Told him what was going on, gave him the part number for the board. This was on a Monday around noon. I had my replacement board on Wednesday! Amazing service!

    #22 9 years ago

    Didn't cliffy make a protector to go around the magnet area? I remember seeing one for ST.

    Yep just found it. Thanks for the heads up. Will definitely be installing that now.

    #23 9 years ago

    I had the same experience. You expect to be put on hold for at least a few minutes or painfully navigate through a ton of computer voiced menus but no. Someone picks up the phone right away and gets right to the issue.

    #24 9 years ago
    Quoted from inhomearcades:

    Why did you not call your distributor? He is the person that has to send boards in for replacement and then give you a new one. That is the process and it makes sense. You do not have an account with Stern, your distributor does. This is not out of the norm of any other industry.

    Its not out of the norm at all! If I buy software and there is a bug, I don't go to BestBuy to fix it, I contact the developer. Why is that so strange to you? They put their pictures and phone numbers for support all over their manuals yet your not supposed to ever call them? They could just tell me to send it to my distributor if thats the case.

    --Kevin

    #25 9 years ago
    Quoted from inhomearcades:

    Why didn't you call your distributor? He is the person that is there to help you with the game first. That is why Stern does not sell direct. You also need to learn to help yourself and not rely on them to hold your hand. Its nice when they have the time to do so but sometimes they do not. Call your distributor, its his responsibility. I have yet to have someone talk to Stern with a legitimate problem and not get the problem resolved.

    So everyone else can call the Stern tech line for help except me? I'm very competent in diagnosing and repairing my own own games. In case you need proof:

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/avengers-le-fuse-f7-f8-blowing
    (The above link is the original tech thread for the OP of THIS thread telling him what to look for)

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/brand-new-met-led-pro-not-working-1

    The problem had to do with the color changing LED lighting on a STLE, something that I figured my local distributor (6 hours north of me) would not know much about. After calling Stern, I called my distributor. He ranted and raved about how Chas was an a-hole for telling me what he told me and that he was going to call him and get a fix to me. Guess what? NO one got back to me and I ultimately diagnosed the problem and repaired it myself. Want to know what it was? Substandard components used by Stern Pinball.

    NO one needed to hold my hand. I just needed direction with the color changing LED system on my $8,000 game.

    Thanks for the advice!

    #26 9 years ago
    Quoted from Cappi:

    Its not out of the norm at all! If I buy software and there is a bug, I don't go to BestBuy to fix it, I contact the developer. Why is that so strange to you? They put their pictures and phone numbers for support all over their manuals yet your not supposed to ever call them? They could just tell me to send it to my distributor if thats the case.
    --Kevin

    I run a distributorship. The reason why my customers buy from us and return to us is because we take care of the problems that arise with the products we sell. This is what a distributor is there to do. Most of you guys are so focused on getting the absolute best price for something that your willing to use a distributor that you have never met and that is no where near you. Ultimately your first line of tech support should be your distributor and then Stern. This is why if you have to do any type of board swap or part swaps it is required to be processed through your distributor. If your distributor is not providing you with a service, its time to change your distributor.

    #27 9 years ago
    Quoted from tktlwyr:

    So everyone else can call the Stern tech line for help except me? I'm very competent in diagnosing and repairing my own own games. In case you need proof:
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/avengers-le-fuse-f7-f8-blowing
    (The above link is the original tech thread for the OP of THIS thread telling him what to look for)
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/brand-new-met-led-pro-not-working-1
    The problem had to do with the color changing LED lighting on a STLE, something that I figured my local distributor (6 hours north of me) would not know much about. After calling Stern, I called my distributor. He ranted and raved about how Chas was an a-hole for telling me what he told me and that he was going to call him and get a fix to me. Guess what? NO one got back to me and I ultimately diagnosed the problem and repaired it myself. Want to know what it was? Substandard components used by Stern Pinball.
    NO one needed to hold my hand. I just needed direction with the color changing LED system on my $8,000 game.
    Thanks for the advice!

    That is unfortunate. Time to find a new distributor. Why are you using a distributor that will not help you or one that has zero technical ability? Did you follow back up with Stern or your distributor?

    Components in any mass manufactured case will always have failure rates. Its just the way it is. I would love to know of any company out there that does not have a failure rate on components. Any industry btw, I have yet to purchase anything that does not have components that eventually fail.

    #28 9 years ago
    Quoted from inhomearcades:

    That is unfortunate. Time to find a new distributor. Why are you using a distributor that will not help you or one that has zero technical ability? Did you follow back up with Stern or your distributor?
    Components in any mass manufactured case will always have failure rates. Its just the way it is. I would love to know of any company out there that does not have a failure rate on components. Any industry btw, I have yet to purchase anything that does not have components that eventually fail.

    I never said my distributor has zero technical ability. As a matter of fact, I think he's very competent in regards to his technical ability. However, when multiple color changing LEDs started to go haywire, I thought it was best to call Stern directly to try to diagnose the problem rather than spending money on postage to send boards across country and hope that it works. Guess what? It wasn't the board.

    Instead of taking 2 minutes to answer a question, Chas totally blew me off and acted like I was bothering him. I felt like I had called 1-800-F*CKERS instead of 1-800-KICKERS. First impressions are everything.

    I'm also not bitching about failing components. I understand that. However, certain components that Stern uses that are sub par and fail quickly on new games. I have had many connector issues on NIB and newer Stern games. When I replace them with Molex branded components, the issues disappear.

    No, I didn't follow up with Stern or my distributor because I fixed the issue myself. There was no need at that point.

    #29 9 years ago
    Quoted from tktlwyr:

    I never said my distributor has zero technical ability. As a matter of fact, I think he's very competent in regards to his technical ability. However, when multiple color changing LEDs started to go haywire, I thought it was best to call Stern directly to try to diagnose the problem rather than spending money on postage to send boards across country and hope that it works. Guess what? It wasn't the board.
    Instead of taking 2 minutes to answer a question, Chas totally blew me off and acted like I was bothering him. I felt like I had called 1-800-F*CKERS instead of 1-800-KICKERS. First impressions are everything.
    I'm also not bitching about failing components. I understand that. However, certain components that Stern uses that are sub par and fail quickly on new games. I have had many connector issues on NIB and newer Stern games. When I replace them with Molex branded components, the issues disappear.
    No, I didn't follow up with Stern or my distributor because I fixed the issue myself. There was no need at that point.

    I am sorry you had that experience with Chas. That is very surprising.

    #30 9 years ago
    Quoted from inhomearcades:

    I run a distributorship. The reason why my customers buy from us and return to us is because we take care of the problems that arise with the products we sell. This is what a distributor is there to do. Most of you guys are so focused on getting the absolute best price for something that your willing to use a distributor that you have never met and that is no where near you. Ultimately your first line of tech support should be your distributor and then Stern. This is why if you have to do any type of board swap or part swaps it is required to be processed through your distributor. If your distributor is not providing you with a service, its time to change your distributor.

    I have electronic ignition on my vehicles.

    #31 9 years ago

    I haven't had an issue calling 800-kickers. Most of the time it has been a good experience. I've called a ton too. There's a yellow sticker under the lockdown bar indicating to do so if you have an issue.

    Almost every nib game I've owned so far has had one issue or another. But everyone of them has been taken care of.

    #32 9 years ago
    Quoted from huo:

    I haven't had an issue calling 800-kickers. Most of the time it has been a good experience. I've called a ton too. There's a yellow sticker under the lockdown bar indicating to do so if you have an issue.
    Almost every nib game I've owned so far has had one issue or another. But everyone of them has been taken care of.

    Yea IDK if I have ever opened up a new game that did not have an issue. One day I was unboxing three titles, IM, STpro and Met pro and two of them wouldn't power up and one of them had a board problem. What really sucked is with them being new I was all confident that I wouldn't have any issues and had them there to replace other broken games. I looked like an idiot there with 6 broken games, three of which were new.

    #33 9 years ago

    Personally I found that their customer service is non existent. I had an issue with my brand new Met led pro just a couple of weekends ago and even though it was the weekend, I left a message hoping someone would get back to me when they were available. Monday and the rest of the week came and no call what so ever. Just a call to see how things were or if they could have offered some help would have been nice. Lucky for me I have Pinside and was able to fix the issue with help from all of you. I expected better...

    #34 9 years ago
    Quoted from tktlwyr:

    So everyone else can call the Stern tech line for help except me? I'm very competent in diagnosing and repairing my own own games. In case you need proof:
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/avengers-le-fuse-f7-f8-blowing
    (The above link is the original tech thread for the OP of THIS thread telling him what to look for)
    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/brand-new-met-led-pro-not-working-1
    The problem had to do with the color changing LED lighting on a STLE, something that I figured my local distributor (6 hours north of me) would not know much about. After calling Stern, I called my distributor. He ranted and raved about how Chas was an a-hole for telling me what he told me and that he was going to call him and get a fix to me. Guess what? NO one got back to me and I ultimately diagnosed the problem and repaired it myself. Want to know what it was? Substandard components used by Stern Pinball.
    NO one needed to hold my hand. I just needed direction with the color changing LED system on my $8,000 game.
    Thanks for the advice!

    What do you want? A medal?

    Capture.JPGCapture.JPG
    #35 9 years ago
    Quoted from Lethal_Inc:

    Personally I found that their customer service is non existent. I had an issue with my brand new Met led pro just a couple of weekends ago and even though it was the weekend, I left a message hoping someone would get back to me when they were available. Monday and the rest of the week came and no call what so ever. Just a call to see how things were or if they could have offered some help would have been nice. Lucky for me I have Pinside and was able to fix the issue with help from all of you. I expected better...

    I've run into this problem too. It does suck that they don't have a better ticketing system to handle issues so they can close them out properly.

    #36 9 years ago

    I have found Chas & Pat to be the most responsive customer service people I have ever dealt with in almost ANY industry.

    With that said they only have a certain level of authorization, if you need a PF Plastic(s), a PF Part/Mech (QC), a Cabinet Decal (be it factory damage or shipping damage), a PCB Board (QC again or sadly lack thereof) or a PF Apron Chas or Pat WILL take care of you.

    Now if you need something major like a PF, a Backbox or a Cabinet (or both) replaced that is WAY above their pay grade.
    Stern management is like most insurance companies on any claim - deny, dent, deny, deny & if you CAN finally "justify" said request & get to Sterns "upper" management they "may" eventually help you out & trust me while being $hitty to management (if you finally get there) may make you "feel" better it won't help your case - & if you're $hitty to Chas or Pat you'll NEVER get to upper management period.

    It also helps to have YOUR distributor pushing on Stern's UPPER management as well (NOT Chas or Pat).
    I'm not going to name names but some distributors are simply awesome when it comes to pushing Stern's "buttons" for warranty issues and then there's a few others where you'll soon regret saving that last $100 bucks with for the "best deal" - sometimes you DO get what you pay for.

    #37 9 years ago
    Quoted from Captain_Kirk:

    What do you want? A medal?

    No. You can stick that medal in Uranus, Captain.

    When I was told that I need to learn to help myself and not rely on Stern tech support, I thought it appropriate to respond since I can help myself rather well. See below.

    Quoted from inhomearcades:

    Why didn't you call your distributor? He is the person that is there to help you with the game first. That is why Stern does not sell direct. You also need to learn to help yourself and not rely on them to hold your hand. Its nice when they have the time to do so but sometimes they do not. Call your distributor, its his responsibility. I have yet to have someone talk to Stern with a legitimate problem and not get the problem resolved.

    #38 9 years ago

    You gave up after not getting the response you wanted from stern. The responsibility lies on your distributor. End of conversation. If you don't like his service buy from someone who will help you.

    #39 9 years ago

    In hindsight, perhaps I should have gone through my distributor rather than stern. It appears they don't like dealing with customers directly on bigger ticket items like a playfield. Stern did put the onus on my distributor to check out the game, but what were they supposed to do anyhow when it is obviously warped? Then as far as I knew, the distributor was waiting on Stern. So I sent Stern even more pictures with a straight edge on the playfield showing some of the warp. That's not as easy as it sounds because you are limited where you can check because of the populated top. Luckily I was able to find some moderate warping behind the right flipper towards the shooter lane. I know there's more than that, but at least it was indisputable proof. Even so, I had to press the matter with Stern and ask what the course of action is. Finally they agreed to replace the playfield, but since there are no populated premium ones, they will swap the hardware for me. I have a disability and just can't do this type of work any more myself. So I appreciate them doing that for me and I thought things were finallly rolling. I'm told the crate will be shipped by UPS and I express concern over brokerage fees as it crosses the border. No worries I am informed. Then I am told I would be notified when the crate is shipped. 2 weeks go by and I hear nothing so I email Stern yet again asking for an update. In response they say it should have shipped and they will talk to the parts department about that.

    Hey I am trying to be as thankful as possible here, but even though they are honoring the warranty, the communication and followup has been frustrating. That's why I wish I had gone through my distributor to begin with. They probably have better lines of communication, maybe more 'pull' too.
    So hopefully, and I MEAN HOPEFULLY the shipping crate will arrive soon. Things could have been worse, Stern could have never replied or just said it's normal for the playfield. I'm happy it will eventually get fixed... It's just an exercise in patience right now.

    So from my experience, sometimes it's better to go through your distributor than Stern. That is, if you have a good distributor. Sometimes maybe paying a little more for a good one is better than saving a few bucks and not having that support.

    Rob

    #40 9 years ago

    Rob,
    Sorry your having a difficult time with your playfield. I saw some of the pictures you posted and it was definitely bad. With large items like that you almost have to go through your distributor and I am very surprised that they did not require that. The only reason I believe they did not require that is because you are sending in your playfield first and then they are sending it back to you. What generally happens on higher dollar items, say anything over 50 bucks is they require the distributor to make the exchange because if they never get the parts back in they charge the distributors account for the items. When it comes to distributors they should be the ones stepping in to make sure customers are happy even more so that stern. You are their customer, you gave your money to them and if they want a repeat customer they should do what it takes to make their customers happy. Distributors in any industry resolve the problems for their customers, that is what they are there for, otherwise manufactures would sell direct and leave out the middle man.

    The problem seems to be common among pinball purchasers. Everyone searches for the lowest possible price on a game even if it is a distributor that is states away. What good does saving a hundred or two do you when you really need some assistance?

    As for rob above, it really sucks your out of the country, it would likely make things much easier. It also sucks your going to have an empty cab while your playfield gets shipped all over the world. Have you tried to contact your distributor to see if they have any more of those games in stock? They could always pull a new playfield, give it to you for your game and send your playfield in to get swapped and then put it back in the game they gave you the playfield from. Just a thought.

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