(Topic ID: 7289)

Why I May Never Buy NIB Stern Again...


By Gusphan

8 years ago



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  • Latest reply 6 years ago by AkumaZeto
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    #1 8 years ago

    Before going forward, note that as of right now, this issue is still in limbo with Stern and Cointaker, so hopefully they will take care of me. However...

    I've had the worst luck with my NIB IM that was purchased. I've had no less than 5 problems with the machine, the worst being a 1 inch crack/ridge which appeared in the machine a few weeks ago (see pics below). The crack/ridge can be easily felt. I've no idea how this happened, but most people I talk to generally agree that the wood must have been flawed from the get go (moisture in it perhaps). To me, this is unacceptable on a machine less than a year old and I worry that it will get worse over time. While I love IM and have no intentions of selling it, I would have a very hard time doing so if I wanted to, and would have to lower the price quite a bit, which is through no fault of my own.

    I emailed Patrick Powers 3 weeks ago, and he forwarded it to Stern's "Quality Control". Last week he called Cointaker (who I purchased the machine from) and Chris from Cointaker called me to discuss the problem. It turns out neither him nor Patrick have ever seen such a thing. So, I wait in limbo as to what, if anything Stern or Cointaker will do.

    Here are my other problems, that, are minor in comparison, but when taken as a whole, really leaves a bad taste in my mouth:

    1. Out of the box the right flipper wasn't going up all the way. I had to pay to have a local guy come and help me with the fix.

    2. One of the pop bumpers wasn't firing all the time out of the box. Thankfully this just required a switch adjustment.

    3. The Iron Monger toy wasn't registering at least 40% of the hits. After searching on RGP, I found a solution that another IM owner used. However, once again, I had to pay a tech to come out and fix the problem (requiring the Iron Monger to be disassembled and the contacts glued). I shouldn't have had to do this with a brand new game.

    4. Last month, the left flipper was starting to stick on the way down. Replaced coil sleeve, but that doesn't seem to solve the problem. This is a HUO game, so I'm surprised to see that I'll probably have to do a rebuild already for a game I've had less than a year.

    I'll keep everyone posted as to the resolution of the clear crack issue.

    crack1.jpg crack2.jpg

    #2 8 years ago

    I should note that in the above pics, I used SEVERAL layers of wax on the crack/ridge, but it is still very visible and readily felt.

    #3 8 years ago

    Not to be rude but if you can't fix your pinball machines with simple adjustments, maybe pinball machine are not for you ? These things are complex and always need some sort of adjustments .

    Yes the PF has a small flaw and it sucks but it does no warrant a stern bashing post !

    Good luck

    Jim

    #4 8 years ago

    is that a crack in the playfield image?

    in the OP's defense it doesnt sound like iron man problem would fall under even general maint.

    #5 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    Not to be rude, but if you can't fix your pinball machines with simple adjustments, maybe pinball machine are not for you ? These things are complex and always need some sort of adjustments ...

    Yes the PF has a small flaw and it sucks but it does no warrant a stern bashing post !

    I couldn't disagree more. When you are spending that kind of money on a NIB pin, you have every right to assume that it will be in better working condition right out of the box. I don't think the OP's post is "stern bashing". He's just calling it like he sees it.

    #6 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    Not to be rude but if you can't fix your pinball machines with simple adjustments, maybe pinball machine are not for you ? These things are complex and always need some sort of adjustments .

    Yes the PF has a small flaw and it sucks but it does no warrant a stern bashing post !

    It's not a complete bash. And in my post, I did refer to the four other problems as "minor". I do expect however, a product to be working right out of the box. Shouldn't we all? Comments like yours say that we will accept sub-par products from a company and be happy.

    Now, I realize that things go wrong, but what a company does after the fact, is really what matters. I hope that they take care of me as a customer, that's all.

    #7 8 years ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    I couldn't disagree more. When you are spending that kind of money on a NIB pin, you have every right to assume that it will be in better working condition right out of the box. I didn't take this as Stern bashing. He was just calling it like he saw it.

    Thank you Gweempose.

    #8 8 years ago

    Considering it's a NIB, I think his complaints are justified. You should cover that with a small piece of mylar to prevent furthur wear.

    #9 8 years ago

    I can't really agree with honda350r. If I bought a brand new pin it better not have any of these issues and if it did I would want Stern to take care of it. Do you feel if your car breaks down the 1st year it would be your responsibility to repair it because it's "complex"?
    Let us know what happens Gusphan, and good luck.

    #10 8 years ago
    Quoted from Gusphan:

    as of right now, this issue is still in limbo with Stern and Cointaker, so hopefully they will take care of me. However...

    So why take the time to write this?
    It should be a warranty, period...
    Kick back, relax and play your other machine until the new one gets there. (Either new PF, or new machine.)
    Oh- and have a beer or four!
    It sounds like you need it.

    Stern will make good on their end.
    If not, Chris will take it up with them on your behalf I am sure...

    #11 8 years ago
    Quoted from Honch:

    Considering it's a NIB, I think his complaints are justified. You should cover that with a small piece of mylar to prevent furthur wear.

    That's not a bad idea, but the problem seems to be with the wood, and if it separates further (below the surface), then unfortunately mylar won't help me completely.

    #12 8 years ago

    Stern clearly has some quality control issues. I've read time and time again about people having problems with NIB machines. Fortunately, they seem to have a history of very good customer service. Hopefully, they will take care of you, Gusphan.

    #13 8 years ago

    You could put a mending plate on the backside of your playfield. That would stop it dead in it's tracks. Not something you want to see on a new pin, but if they aren't going to replace the PF you may have no choice.
    Goodluck.

    #14 8 years ago
    Quoted from NimblePin:

    So why take the time to write this?
    It should be a warranty, period...
    Kick back, relax and play your other machines until the new one gets there.
    Oh- and have a beer or four!
    It sounds like you need it. []

    Stern will make good on it's end.

    Just frustrated. It's been a few weeks and I haven't gotten any answers. Had to vent.

    #15 8 years ago

    I-agree-stern-should-fix-this. Bad quality control and I would want a new game or at least new pf

    Thanks for posting and good luck

    Bill

    #16 8 years ago

    I guess I would have waited to see what stern would do before I brought my problems to a public internet forum.

    Pinball machines are made to make money and not made for picky HUO owners . Now that pinball machines have become home collectibles, issues are coming out that have never needed to be addressed before !

    Some how pinball manufactures need to build machines for individuals that have zero knowledge how they work on the inside .

    You have to remember that pinball machines where sold to operators that had trained techs to handle pinball machine problems on route, those days are gone !

    Now with so many thing that have changed , you are pissed at the manufacture ?

    Don't worry new pinball machine will get very hard to find in the near future !

    Jim

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    #18 8 years ago
    Quoted from Honch:

    Considering it's a NIB, I think his complaints are justified. You should cover that with a small piece of mylar to prevent furthur wear.

    I totally agree, A crack appearing in a playfield is definitely NOT acceptable from a New pin. Is it right through, if you look from underneath? I could see inserts raising maybe, but an actual crack no way. As far as the other issues, every pin needs some adjustments, new or old when you get them home. Also after playing, switches shift, parts wear in. if you can't fix or do it yourself, you are going to have to pay. So it's to be expected. NIB or not.

    I hope they comp you a populated playfield. If it is not from any user error, they should.

    #19 8 years ago

    That doesn't look like a crack at all, it looks like Mylar applied to the field., Alot of pins have mylar applied to the field in various spots. Often, once you start waxing, playing the game, you can tell the difference.,...

    You say you have had this machine for a year.? Well, if you didn't see this , and often you cannot with mylar, until time has passed, it is just mylar in my opnion..., just wax away., but you will still see the line between mylar and playfield, nothing to worry about...

    Unless they did not mylar the playfield...

    #21 8 years ago

    That is just mylar, Hard maplewood doesn't crack like that....but if I were to have a skip in my heart, please nimplepin, send her over, HOT.!!!

    #22 8 years ago

    Re-looking at your playfield, It looks to me as one line in your playfield., If it isnt mylar, its a clear-coat problem, but this would of been noticed from day one, not a year later.....just sayin"

    #23 8 years ago

    Wow... I don't think I would have even noticed that line - it looks like a clear coat scratch to me. This is one of the reasons I rarely buy anything that is new. As far as the other stuff, I feel that everyone makes good points. I'm new to the pinball ownership rhelm (about a year too) and there are a lot of things I don't quite understand yet (fix-it wise). And yes, pinball games probably were not orginally intended to be in people's houses. If they were, then why do they have coin slots on them?

    That's why I thought is was extremely odd that they were putting them at some Best Buy stores (I think that idea failed). The normal person would have no clue how to do simple things like adjust a switch.

    #24 8 years ago

    The switch stuff could have happened from the jostling in transit. I have seen my friend's NIB IM come from the factory with minor switch problems that required soldering. You will always have switches, mechs, flippers, and coils to fix on a pin. NIB, HUO, HEP, whatever, that is just the nature of the beast.

    The playfield crack is the million dollar question, and different all together. I don't know or have any good answers. I would guess your options are:

    1. Send the game back, get another one. I don't know if shipping was involved, but that is a lot of money if it was. Have no idea the cost/loss on this option. Price Guess: 400-1000 bucks. (Not counting that Cointaker/Stern would have to sell it as a floor machine. So that might be something they might not consider.)

    2. Send you a new playfield and have somebody replace it for you. Probably would probably void any future warranties. Price Guess: 1700 - 2000 bucks. Sorry,not a viable option.

    3. Partial refund? Depends if you can live with the crack. (Probably the solution Cointaker/Stern would be the most open to)

    I am sure there are some options I could have missed.

    Just curious, what options have been discussed between you and them? They are probably silent as they do not know how to handle it.

    I wish you well and best of luck.

    #25 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    Some how pinball manufactures need to build machines for individuals that have zero knowledge how they work on the inside .

    People that buy a new product expect it to work right out of the box. That is pretty obvious I think and not asking too much. Just like personal computers, many that buy them do not know much about them but they still have the right to expect them to work without having to be a professional to troubleshot the issue.

    That said, I am sure either Stern or Cointaker are going to make things right here. These are complicated machines that will have issues from time to time which is why they come with the warranty. So make sure you keep us posted on what goes down Gusphan. Sorry to hear about your issues but give it a bit of time I have a feeling it will work out in the end.

    #26 8 years ago

    the playfield is a big deal and is definitely not expected on a 1yr old huo machine. hopefully things will be made right although i wouldn't know where to start with that kind of issue. the switches and flippers should have been working out of the box but adjustments should be expected there as well. good luck with the iron man!

    #27 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    I guess I would have waited to see what stern would do before I brought my problems to a public internet forum.

    How long would you have waited? He has been dealing with this for 3+ weeks. He as the right to discuss it here.

    The Dude said it, people should not be expected to know how to repair everything in their house. This would be like buying a new construction house and having the foundation crack in less than a year. Would you expect the new owner to fix this since they bought it? Of course not, that is silly.

    #28 8 years ago

    Nimble, that nurse rocks!

    #29 8 years ago
    Quoted from absocountry2:

    How long would you have waited? He has been dealing with this for 3+ weeks. He as the right to discuss it here.

    I would not have called for a tiny scratch and I would have fixed the small problems myself !

    I also would not buy any Stern as they do not appeal to me !

    Jim

    #30 8 years ago

    I would be upset. The mechanical stuff wouldn't worry me but the playfield mark would upset me a lot. If I bought a new machine I would want it to pristine. Good luck

    #31 8 years ago
    Quoted from VegasAlleycat:

    Nimble, that nurse rocks!

    + 1

    Feeling very poorly.....

    #32 8 years ago

    Back on topic!

    Complicated subject as pins were designed to go on location but with an increasing amount of pins going into homes and the prices they now command, I would not be happy with those issues.

    Obviously Stern have had to cut costs to survive and so there are quality control issues. I guess I could accept a few issues but only if Stern recognized there was a problem and promptly sorted it out.

    Very frustrating when you get no reply to emails etc.

    Good luck.

    #33 8 years ago

    I would be pissed about the crack 3+ weeks is not customer service, stop dealing with the deep fries co-ordinators, you have waited long enough. Get on the phone and speak to someone who can make a decision, make them give you a date of when you are going to get an answer on what they are going to do to fix it. The noisy wheel get the oil!

    #34 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    I would not have called for a tiny scratch and I would have fixed the small problems myself !

    It is not a tiny scratch. The wood is cracked under the playfield coating. A flaw in the wood that is pulling apart is not a tiny scratch. You left out my comparision to a house failing after one purchases new construction.

    #35 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    I would not have called for a tiny scratch and I would have fixed the small problems myself !

    I also would not buy any Stern as they do not appeal to me !

    Jim

    Do you enjoy crapping up a thread? Gusphan has a valid beef. A 1 year old HUO machine should not have a flawed playfield like that. Maybe you will accept subpar products and services but for the money that Stern gets for their machines, they really need to work on their quality control. Its not like this is an isolated incident. His issue might be unique but look at the forums here and RGP, there are a lot of posts concerning Sterns quality control for NIB machines.

    #36 8 years ago

    As a retail owner i would have addressed the problem immediately with the manufactuer. Keeping your customer happy is what keeps bringing them back to spend there money with you. As far as a STERN with problems out of the box imagine that. I do think Chris @ cointaker is a nice guy as i have done led business in the past with him, but 2 weeks for an answer is B.S.
    Glad im not selling new sterns, OH THATS RIGHT THEY TOLD ME NO!
    Anybody wanna buy a WOZ i have them on order!!!!! I will take deposits.
    Good Luck Gusphan
    JT

    #37 8 years ago

    Thanks everyone for letting me vent and your support. I love my IM, and I hope that Stern/Cointaker does right to keep me as customer for years to come. Both Patrick and Chris (Cointaker) have helped me in the past, so this case is not closed, but I've held in my frustration long enough and felt that a post to vent was warranted since it's been several weeks. I promise to keep everyone up to date with the way in this is resolved.

    #38 8 years ago

    Look man ,it really sucks you have a half inch mark on you game! How many plays are on it ? How long has it been in your home ?

    I have had 100s of machines and stuff happens to wood ! All kinds of things can cause your issue, like, humidity or lack of humidity or temperature changes .

    You bought a game with a steel ball that beats the crap out of everything,you might want to stop playing it now, if you want the game to be perfect.

    Perfect and pinball are two word that should never go together .

    Again sorry that your pinball machine has brought you grief !

    Jim

    #39 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    .....stuff happens to wood ! All kinds of things can cause your issue, like, humidity or lack of humidity or temperature changes .

    +1. As others have stated, I doubt very much an operator would raise this as an issue expecting Stern to address; the "retailer" selling it to you for HUO, that's another matter.

    If it were me, I'd push for a new PF that I would install myself. In my case it would be a double win because I like PF replacement projects. Stern's actual cost on the PF would be minimal and no one eats the labor charges to do the swap. Plus, if this is a long-term keeper you could have the PF CC.

    #40 8 years ago

    to end the dispute if that is a crack or not, I would look underneath the playfield and see if the crack is visible there. It would probably start at one of the screws used to secure the target to the playfield

    #41 8 years ago

    if it does start at one of the screws it was most likely caused by it not being pre drilled. That would most certainly be a production flaw and not due to normal wear and tear or other factors. however things like that can certainly make the crack worse over time.

    #42 8 years ago
    Quoted from ssathre:

    I would look underneath the playfield and see if the crack is visible there.

    Hmmm, I don't know if a crack would show up on the bottom of the playfield, simply because it's layered plywood. If it is a crack, it would likely be limited to the top ply of the plywood only. It looks a lot more like a scratch to me.

    #43 8 years ago
    Quoted from shock_me:

    I don't know if a crack would show up on the bottom of the playfield, simply because it's layered plywood.

    +1 Exactly correct .

    #44 8 years ago

    Besides the PF cracking, I insist you learn more about the mechanics of Pinball machines. Calling in technicians every time a switch goes bad is a recipe for unhappiness.

    These are NOT created for the home market, never were. They are coin operated machines meant for laundromats. Anyone considering one for home use needs to realize they no amount of demand from home buyers is going to change that they need this attention. Good news is it can be fixed rather easily. If Bally / Wms were making games today, the same posts would be here - its the nature of the beast and not a Stern problem.

    Ok - The PF cracking... that does suck.

    On a run of (guessing) 3000k+ games, the law of averages caught up with you. Dammit, if you think about it, it came down to what box was chosen to be sent out. An on route game wouldnt matter as much, but for the home i would want it to be as nice as possible.

    If you cant feel that line with your finger - its Planking - a very common symptom of 90s Bally / Wms game where the PF starts to split, not much you can do except hope for an exchange or keep it.
    OR, if you can feel it with your finger, its a "factory" scratch in the clear coat, something that could be repaired but requires a very trained pro (its not like a mechanical fix at all!).

    If you end up "getting stuck" with it - it doesnt look that bad (not minimizing it, just saying).

    Let us know how it turns out. IM is a great game, my favorite of all time, just enjoy it for now.

    #45 8 years ago
    Quoted from McCune:

    I have had 100s of machines and stuff happens to wood ! All kinds of things can cause your issue, like, humidity or lack of humidity or temperature changes .

    You bought a game with a steel ball that beats the crap out of everything,you might want to stop playing it now, if you want the game to be perfect.

    Perfect and pinball are two word that should never go together .

    First Gusphan, sorry to hear about you problems. Sounds like someone should give you an answer. But honda350r is kinda right. Pinball machines break. And they show wear. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it is. This whole collector's movement has really changed the way that people scrutinize pinball games.

    Like it was said earlier, I'm sure that back in the day all of the bally/williams games had some of the same minor switch issues or inconsistent flipper problems when delivered NIB to operators, the difference was the tech team that took care of it, and there was no internet to hear about all the small problems that everyone had in pinball forums like this. Not saying that I don't empathize, just trying to say that anything that is that mechanically complex and built by hand, is gonna have a few issues in every hundred machines or so. Just a little bad luck? Don't swear them off quite yet.

    #46 8 years ago

    Only thing i reacted on was that crack on your PF, the other issues is just maintenance/adjustments. The game may have run perfectly at Sterns last testing area i can imagine, but what happens after everything settles, humidity, sometimes weeks of transport and storage and god knows what? Some issues are bound to come your way, but that fat gaping crack in your playfield would make me f!@#$g Cartman CRAZY!

    cartman.jpeg

    <sub class="mdrtd">Post edited by SealClubber : language</sub>

    #47 8 years ago

    I agree with what everyone is saying about the mechanical issues. Heck, if you look at my posts in the last year, I haven't bashed Stern at all b/c of the issues and just accepted it. Perhaps I should have just left that out of the post and focused on the crack.

    And to answer the previous questions, the crack is not seen on the other side of the playfield. It is easily felt on the top of the playfield. It's almost more like a ridge than a crack, but like I said, it's easily felt.

    #48 8 years ago

    To the OP, I'm not sure exactly how you bought the game, however, in the future you might consider buying from a "full service" reseller who will un-box and go through the game before they turn it over to you, and maybe set you up with a maintenance plan. All the little adjustments you mentioned are on par for coin-op equipment, especially pinballs. The maintenance, tuning and cost are among the reasons why these machines were almost exclusively the purview of operators. You didn't have bad luck at all. It's just how these things are.

    #49 8 years ago
    Quoted from TheDude:

    but that fat gaping crack in your playfield would make me f!@#$g Cartman CRAZY!

    That one made me roll, I could see him saying that!

    #50 8 years ago

    Just got a call from Pat Powers - Cointaker told him he will be traveling up to my area in the next month and will stop by to take a look at the crack and will then report back to Pat.

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