Well, I finally got my TC back today. Ford corporate did end up covering the replacement of the failed door latch with just a $25 deductible. Of course the dealer took another 3 days after the repair was done to actually get all the paperwork done until I could actually pick up the car. And I did pay out of pocket to get a spare for the passengers side so if it fails I can get the repair done in a hurry, elsewhere if necessary. So I actually ended up spending $180 total.
And now, the rest of the story....... I wasn't able to keep the failed part since it was to be returned to Ford as part of the (out of?) warranty coverage. But I was able to take photos of the failed part. Later while I was killing some time before the movie I was going to see opened, I was looking at the photos and noticed something interesting. The part number label showed a build date of 2014 even though the recall was issued in 2016 and I had to wait 4 months for "recall parts" to be available for installation in June 2017. So the recall compliant parts shouldn't have build dates prior to 2016 or 2017. I returned to the dealer and spoke to the service manager about this. He retrieved the part and looking closer, he found that the timing was even worse. The 2014 label was on top of an earlier 2013 label, making it that much less likely to be from a 2016 recall / 2017 repair. Although I think he realized what it meant, he claimed he would have to consult with the parts experts to determine if those were build dates and not some other random number. Yeah, right. And although he produced the documentation of the parts orders and install entries for the 2017 recall repair, he did say he understood how bad it looked when all the physical evidence seems to suggest the repair wasn't actually done regardless of what the paperwork shows.
Although he would not come out and admit what I suspect we both knew, he stated he was going to dig deeper to find out why there was apparently a 2014 part that failed. And that IF it appeared the recall repair in 2017 had not been done properly, they would pull the car back in free of charge, install the part I currently have on hand, and refund both the cost of the part and the deductible that I have already paid. And if that's what happens, it is the proper solution for this issue but I shouldn't have to be the one driving this investigation. The dealer should have done all this ASAP once my initial evidence suggested the 2016 repair was faulty.
After I got home, I did some further digging by pulling the inside panel on the passenger slider. Although my intention was to check the part date on that side, I didn't get that far. There is a large white seal with a 2014 date on it and sealed edges that have very obviously never been disturbed. There is no way they replaced a latch in this door in 2017 without disturbing this seal. I plan to call first thing tomorrow morning to add that bit of evidence to the pile. I'll also pull the drivers slider panel to see how much they disturbed that same sheet and seal during the recent repair on that side. I understand that you can't know exactly what your employees do at all times and for liability reasons you may not want to make admissions out of hand. But this latest evidence makes it nearly impossible to continue to insist that the 2017 repair was done properly. And although it's an issue between the dealer and Ford, not me, it would appear that now Ford has reimbursed the dealer twice when in reality only half the work has been done that Ford was paying for.
And now for the only bright spot in this whole fiasco, my opinion of the Transit Connect itself has risen back up to where it was before the door latch failed. I understand that every vehicle can have issues so recalls don't really bother me if they aren't ongoing issues. I had begun rethinking my plans to special order another TC when this one is paid off next July. A recall that continues to leave safety items broken would be a deal breaker for me. But it is starting to look like it's not really a Ford Recall or Transit Connect problem but is instead a problem with the technician that did the repair at a minimum and maybe a problem at the dealer level. Switching dealers before that next purchase will fix that cause and I can still feel safe sticking with the Transit Connect which I have otherwise fully enjoyed.