A big package came from Sony's repair center in Texas today.
After sending my PS3 off, I thought about what could be wrong. I'm a pretty tech savvy guy, so I naturally started wondering what could possibly be the problem that only one specific model of the PS3 would have a problem with a piece of software that worked correctly on all other models. The Sony support guy I talked to when I took down the information to send mine in said it was a hardware flaw in the launch batch, but didn't elaborate. Considering that the game was pretty much hard-locking without showing any errors or slowdown before hand, I figured there was a problem with the chipset, or that the CPU may have seen revisions...but anyway, I digress.
A package came that contained their response to me sending in my broken-but-not-really PS3. I fully expected to see the same system I sent them, but with a part inside replaced, or whatever it was that was wrong. Being as how it was kind of scuffed up, with all kinds of GameStop stickers on the back and bottom, with gunk from peeled warranty stickers all over the side, I figured they would pop the top, replace the problem part, and send it back.
The box contained a brand-new PS3. It still had the plastic shrink-tape over all of the surfaces, the warranty stickers, the model sticker, everything in place. Every surface was pristine, not a fingure-print on it. The packing slip said that it came from the exchange center, not the repair center. It also had a total repair cost of $0.00.
I checked the model number, as well as trying a few PS2 games I have that don't work right on 80GB PS3's (Metal Gear Solid 3 gets about 4fps on an 80GB PS3) and they all worked perfectly, so it's the real deal. Turnaround time was about a week and a half, from the day UPS picked it up to the day they dropped it off.
I still can't really believe this whole thing. I've heard stories from the internet of people that were outright refused service on second-hand consoles bought from places like GameStop, and they swap mine out for a brand new one for free.