Yeah, your experience is the same as mine. I dread the day anything goes wrong with any of my Nikon gear. It is to the point that if it is out of warranty, Nikon repair is not even on my radar.
I have heard so many horror stories about Nikon service, from here, some friends of mine, and from people like Thom Hogan that there simply is no way I'd consider buying a new Nikon product. Not even close.
Very clearly they have extracted a huge amount of cost from their service department and the quality shows. I've been in companies that need to make extreme cost cutting as a way to survive in a dwindling market and this is *exactly* what it looks like. It's not pretty and it does real, substantial damage to their customers. PBurke's case above is typical and absolutely unacceptable to me. It is very sad.
A shame really, because these Nikon manual focus lenses just exude quality by the buckets.