>Dust is not a repair issue the exact same way >dirty windshields on new cars are not warranty issues. But >many dealers will clean them for customers just to be nice.
That's a pretty good analogy. Where the cases differ for most people is that cleaning a windshield is much less daunting than cleaning a DSLR sensor. Also, no car manufacturer recommends against cleaning the windshield yourself. If cleaning the DSLR sensor were as easy and risk-free as cleaning a windshield, we wouldn't be seeing people treating it as a defect. Which, I agree, it is not. It is an artifact of the technology we are using, and the benefits of that technology so much outweigh this annoyance that we live with it.
We have seen manufacturers try to address this issue with vibrating sensors. That's a useful but not complete solution. If/when a manufacturer comes up with a system that fully resolves the problem, it will be a huge win for them. (I have no idea what such a solution might look like.)
>Some time in the recent past, normal maintenance, for some >people, has been redefined as a defect or the manufacturers >fault.
Perhaps the better automotive analogy is an oil change. While you can do it yourself and many do, most people take their car to a shop to have it done. The difference is that people understand and accept the need for it, and it is made explicit right in the owner's manual. It would be less of an issue if the camera manufacturers did treat sensor cleaning as an issue of routine maintenance and if it were more convenient to have done. (Most of us don't live within drop-off distance of a Nikon service bureau.)
I clean my sensors myself, but I understand why the less technically inclined balk at reaching into their expensive camera to perform a procedure that the manufacturer frowns upon.