I agree with ALMOST everything you said. I don't believe, however, that MB or any other car maker would intentionally "experiment" on their cars or buyers in the first year of a new model. This would be a suicidal approach for any company introducing a new product.
I do see how it could be seen that way. It is very common for a newly introduced product, particularly something as complex as an automobile, to have a few kinks.
Actually in the case of the new C Class it appears to me that they aren't doing too bad. I went through EXACTLY the scenario that Brian is going through with my early W210 car which was only about 6 months into the new production when I bought it. This is a frustrating thing to go through and I understand as much as anyone can what Brian feels right now.
The sad reality is that you have to actively stay after these people until the find the problem. It is probably a failing electronic subassembly somewhere. In my case it wouldn't misbehave for the people at the shop. I finally left the car with them and they drove it with computers hooked to it and the regional service rep in the car. They drove it around for quite some time to get it to fail. They put almost 300 miles on it, but it finally failed for them and they fixed the problem permanently.
Stay after MBUSA. They will find the problem, fix it, and in six months you will have forgotten the frustration you went through. This sort of thing happens to every car brand, and you're just unlucky enough to get that car with the problem.
Best of luck,