Service Number Unavailable

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Service Number Unavailable

A few nights ago, my TCD540040 went into a "Welcome" screen loop of death.

 I called Tivo.  Their answer is "bad HDD" in my 'Unmodified' Console, but since my Tivo is out of Warranty....if I send them $149.00 they would send me a nice new Tivo...and transfer my lifetime subscription to the new Tivo Unit.  ** I asked....what if I just get another HDD?....and the guy was very understanding...that it was my console...and I can do what I want. - But was very insistant that if I wanted my lifetime membership transfered.....I had to deal through them ONLY! ** 

 So I've tried a few things with another HDD,  Did a dd....etc....(No luck - So far).  Eventually put the original drive back in....and hooked up the Serial cable to my laptop.  Followed the instructions found on a site somewhere, and was able to see during the boot up....that the Tivo is complaining about "Service Number Unavailable".....Then I see "Secure Micro communication has failed"....Then the TIVO prompts me for a Password.  [Anyone know what that password might be??]

I've ordered a PTV Instant Cake I can try to load a fresh kernel to this drive.....But at this point I'm not too hopeful.   Is my Tivo a BRICK?

 Just wondering if I eventually need to take Tivo up on the $149.00 offer.

 Any help would be greatly appreciated.