Hewlett Packard update
It looks like HP has backed down from their stance that *we* had to pay for a repair that was covered under warranty before they would fix and return my laptop.
However, for the sake of the record, let me make a few points.
1- The local Best Buy is full of idiots. The managers and techies could not figure out why I was even bitching. Evidently they are not trained to believe customers when they dispute things. With the exception of one tech supervisor who *actually called* HP (gasp) to see specifically what they were claiming, no one, not one god-damned soul, lifted finger aside from saying, "Well, gee. Why don't you call this number?"
2- Best Buy corporate hq interceded and said that if HP would not fix the computer for free, that Best Buy would reimburse us. (OK, not a terrible solution.) In the process of telling us this, the guy at HQ mentioned that the Best Buys in our particular state "have a reputation for not being terribly creative when it comes to customer service." Gee, that's comforting to know.
3- HP-Repair finally conceded that they should not charge me for the screen that fritzed out. Instead they want money to fix the scratches on the external plastic case of the laptop. NOBODY ASKED THEM TO FIX THE F****** SCRATCHES! This, I believe, qualifies as ass-covering after we called "bullshit".
4- It is very unlikely that I will ever buy an HP product again.
5- Best Buy is unlikely to get any more of my business either, simply because I do not want to ever have to deal with this particular store.
6- Until my computer actually arrives in working condition, I will pester each of these companies every single day.