Well, a ray of light has indeed penetrated the darkness. Melville has accepted the camera for repeat (warranty) repair after 2 phone calls, and sent me a prepaid UPS 2nd day Air label.
It went out this AM.
In the letter accompanying the camera (and during the second of my phone conversations), I stated that if it can't be repaired & returned to the "as-new-current-production" standard, they should send me a new late production one. Let's see what happens....
If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything..