I personally plan to hold onto my Pearl for at least another two years. I'm waiting for these "super high native contrast" projectors that we keep hearing about, hopefully coupled with more lumens.
I probably won't upgrade until there's a leap forward in technology. Although most everyone agrees that the VW60 is an improvement over the 50 in most categories, the improvement is generally described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
I had the Pearl too. That problem sounds similar to ones I've heard. It most definitely needs Sony help back in the shop. If you can help them along by having a VW60 make the return trip, then do so.
I upgraded to the JVC RS1 and feel that is the projector I will be keeping for a while. Since I've heard the Black Pearl does compare favorably, you should try to use this as an opportunity to swing for the better one.
Push Sony and don't feel bad about it. If they can do it and apparently they have, you may be in luck.