Thanks Peter for the response and helpful information.
I've contacted Panasonic and told them that I was interested in replacing my set with the current 2012 55GT50.
The first representative advised me that Panasonic will need to inspect my set and determine if it can be repaired. If not, then they will replace the set...this was said 3 times by the rep...she was adamant about it!
I tried to explain to her that the first thing "Bob" asked me if I would consider replacing the set instead of repairing it even before he continued to set up a repair service...this was my first contact with Panasonic via telephone.
She was rude and hung up!
I called back and connected with "Kimberly" and explained the situation to her and she gladly advised me that she will escalate this to Bob and have him contact me ASAP (1 to 2 business days).
I hope that a replacement will be issued...if not, then a repair will be done instead.