First, I called the Panasonic help line, who told me that their factory service center in South San Francisco (50 miles away) would be delighted to help me if I brought the set to them. That didn’t seem like a winning strategy, so I called the factory-authorized service shop in San Jose, who said there was a 3- or 4-week wait for an in-home service call — but I could bring it in, pay $40 for an estimate, and they could probably fix it in four to ten days.
That was better, but still not what I was looking for, so I tried a local non-authorized shop I’d used for stereo gear. The answering machine says that they’re still in business, but their hours are “by appointment only”. I left my name, e-mail address, and phone number; I’m still waiting. [Update, 4:35pm: They called back. Their free estimate has a 3-week wait. Hmmm…perhaps a 19-inch set would be a useful addition to the household electronics collection anyway; I can probably donate it to some charity if I find I don’t need it in a month or so.]
So it was off to the Yellow Pages; I picked a relatively close place that’d been in business since we moved to the area. They answered the phone, and said they could have someone out to look at the set (and haul it into the shop, if necessary) tomorrow, or I could save a few bucks and bring it in myself. But they don’t know how long it’ll take to repair the set, and I don’t know what kind of reputation they have (other than being willing to answer the phone!)
I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but it’s good to know that I don’t have to throw away the old set yet.