Whatever you are buying, you should read the warranty first. If you do not like the terms, then do not buy it.
In Lionel's defense, they have gone beyond their technical obligations for warranty service. First, I am fairly certain that most ZW-L transformers were produced in one or two large production runs, probably more than 3 years ago. So, they appear to have quietly waived their 3-year limitation of coverage in recognition that this product remains cataloged for ongoing sales. The same may be said of the Legacy base and perhaps a few other items. Secondly, they sent me a Fedex shipping label to return a 30 pound item back to Lionel. I was not expecting that concession as the terms of the warranty state that it is the customer's responsibility to pay for return shipping. So, I am pleased with Lionel's response. My opinion of the transformer is a separate issue that has been well stated.
Ray Lombardo stated that many people are too easy on the dealers. This is a complex issue.
On the one hand, many dealers suffer greatly for Lionel's QC issues, taking on uncompensated repairs as a dealer, or under-compensated repair work as authorized service stations. They sometimes take it on the chin and get saddled with unfair expenses like return shipping, to fix and return Lionel products in the interest of providing good service and to retain customer patronage. The widespread nature of this dealer good will and behavior unfortunately prevents Lionel from grasping the scope, magnitude and cost of QC failures. Just imagine the impact if Lionel's entire dealer network began to return everything that arrived back in their stores in defective condition!
On the other hand, some dealers could do a much better job with communication and standing by the products they sell. I received a terse, single line email from the seller which stated precisely, "I would suggest giving Lionel a call and see if they know a solution" . The email contained no salutation, and there was no name identifying the individual who sent me the email. What message should a customer receive from an email like this? The message that I received was, "We don't care to address you by name, we want you to go away, and we wish remain anonymous by concealing our name". Perhaps my interpretation is incorrect. Perhaps they cannot repair these transformers. But they didn't care enough to explain.