I tell you something else about the Giants, no small thing, they've got probably the best warranty service of all the manufacturer's, at least in the US. I've seen frames replaced no questions asked and within a weeks time.
Sounds like the Aust and US Giant reps are very different. Warrenty and product service is one of the reasons I steered away from Giant. I had to threaten them with legal action before they would inspect the frame (out contracted rep had told me my 99 frame was >9 years old).
C-40, look over the number of responses re:welding finishes. I think the participation in this thread speaks for itself.
Giants are prolific here in the US.. there's just tons of them, but the vast majority of their sales aren't their high end bikes like the tcr's and certainly not the composites. They've got a big dealership presence and I think that's the key. I can understand why some people don't like Giants (i.e., big taiwan conglomerate) but I think it's the reason why their high end bikes are such a good deal - they spread their costs over their entire model range. Their business model here in the US has to provide good warrenty coverage - and since they're so prolific, it's not hard for them to do so. That's interesting that (at least in your experience) in Aust. it's very different.