Being someone in the IT end user support business for 20 years...
I feel your pain. Really I do.
But from a different perspective...it makes me crazy that people actually believe that a sub $1000 PC/Laptop is just as good or at least adequate
for a person to use with current applications.
At those prices corners are cut everywhere and planned obsolescece is the name of the game, and forget post sales service.
Cheap In - Cheap Out.
But the marketeers will swear that you are getting the same level of quality...just a few less features.
It's sad that the IT industry in general has had to resort to mis-representation
to try to make a buck. (Don't even get me started on the rebate scam industry)
You deserve more professional response from Apple...
It's nice that they sent you an upgraded unit and I hope that one is working well...but then shear number of calls, trips & mis-communications should have drawn a stronger response from Apples senior customer service folks.
If you have not contacted them, you should, your problems are well documented...although it's unlikely that they will offer to do much for you at this point, (they aren't liable now and have given some compensation)...
A complaint like yours to the Senior customer service may get some airplay
internally, maybe not...but your case plays well as an enthusiastic Apple customer turned sour by Apples less then acceptable customer service.
It doesn't take too many stories like yours...especially yours, as it is a valid and published one...to sour the public's image to a obvious problem with the companies handling of a post sale issue.
Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.
An Apple issue a Day...leads to post procurement stress dis-order.
MJW / Executive Technical Services