Well I waited a while as I decided if I was going to open it up and try the re-flow thing myself in order to get it to stay running long enough to get our game saves onto a USB. or just send it in.
I just couldn't seem to find the time and my son was losing patience with me so I decided to go ahead and send it to Sony.
It appears that their price has gone up for this service as they told me it was now $149 to either fix mine or trade it for a refurb 160 slim model. I made a snap decision and told them that I wanted to get the slim 160 which I later regretted.
They sent a nice pre-paid shipping box that arrived in one day. I filled out and included the appropriate paperwork, and sent it out.
Exactly 2 weeks after I sent it arrived and much to my surprise, when I opened the box was my original 80g fat PS3.
I was actually a bit relieved that I got my old one back because shortly after I had sent it off, I realized that with a slim model, I would lose my ability to play SACD via HDMI and the shelf and face plate would also need to be changed in my rack.
In the end, I am very pleased with this service option that Sony is offering. Sony is a large entity and probably have the resources to offer this service. I'm sure that since the PS3 platform is still a current offering, that may have a significant impact on why they offer this kind of service program. But I doubt that there are too many others out there that would be willing to do the same kind of service on a unit that has been out of warranty for nearly 3 years. In my experience, they would say sorry, and ask that you to buy a new unit at a retail outlet, or if there is a repair service option, it would end up being more than the cost of a new unit.