Well, I just got off the phone with Questar and I can't say that it left me feeling any better about this whole situation. I asked them point-blank as to how they could ship something out the door like this without necessarily disclosing the condition, and they indicated that not only had they inspected and taken a picture of it prior to shipping (!) - but that "the quality was consistent" with other LMT barrels (I'm paraphrasing).
And bemoaning the level of customer service (or lack thereof) fell on deaf ears, because apparently I'm only one of a 'handful' of customers who are unhappy with the quality of service exhibited by Questar of late.
So absolutely no refund, and I was referred to their terms of service agreement as basically the final word on the matter... Not that I should really be surprised, I guess; this all coming from the same company that after failing to deliver several dozen SCARs within "weeks" - more than a year later hit their customers up with a 25% restocking charge when requesting a refund!
This afternoon I'm making an appointment with my optometrist to get my eyesight checked, because it seems to have improved to the point where I'm noticing flaws and defects where none in fact exist... So sorry for bringing this up guys: I guess I have unrealistic expectations when it comes to quality and customer service. There's a subtle irony in that over 3 years of overly positive experiences dealing with CGN members on the EE, the first and only time I've been truly burned was with a CGN sponsor.