And by "wow" I really mean "WOW" because I am typing this on my newly repaired PowerBook. It arrived today, which means that AppleCare Service received it, fixed it, then shipped it out all in the same day.
Boy, just when you think it's impossible for Apple to kick any more ass than they already do, they go and prove you wrong. I guess I should really expect things like this from them, but it's difficult to believe that one company can be so freakin' amazing considering how terrible the service is getting to be with other companies now-a-days.
The AppleCare extended warranty contract may be pricey, but it has certainly paid for itself... the latch mechanism that wore out was part of the entire top case assembly, so the painted trim that was starting to peel on the edges has all been replaced as well. She feels like an all-new machine. She even smells fresh and new. About the only negatives are that the power adaptor plug doesn't quite fit as well as it used to, and Apple assessed my battery as "failing" which is bizarre because it's less than two months old (though it's not an "official" Apple battery, but instead a third-party "high-capacity" model, so maybe that's why their diagnostics failed it?).
I'm really happy right now. Apple rules the earth.