Have you had any issues with the finish? No, I keep mine covered with a cheap Weber kettle cover.
How do you like the ceramic fire grate? I prefer it over the metal one, I don't care for the design of the metal one. No trouble with high or low temp. Can't really comment on the metal grate because I took it out and went back to the ceramic grate. My first ceramic grate cracked early on but lasted for years before it was no longer useable. My second one has no cracks at all.
It does have machined surfaces and the gasket is thinner than the competitors. I have not replaced a gasket but my cooker was exchanged because of another issue. There have been some Grill Domes and very few according to Grill Dome that have had issues with hinge adjustments. There is a procedure for fixing that and it is easily understood but for whatever reason some can't be adjusted properly. My cooker had this happen and I brought it to a dealer which was a fairly long trip and after trying for quite a while without succcess he exchanged it with a demo he had that was in great shape. It looked like it might have only been used once or twice and it sealed perfectly.
They used to recommend a 12 or 13 inch deflector, I can't remember exactly which but they do now recommend a 10 inch. I still use a 12 or 13 inch deflector on the indirect rack and have had no issues because of it. My first firebox with the first cooker had some very slight cracks after the first couple of cooks but lasted a long time. This replacement has no cracks whatsoever. A deflector on the GD indirect rack hangs down further into the firebox than competitors and that is why they are recommending the smaller size.
I do not baby it but I do leave the top vent open for several minutes after shutting the bottom during shutdown as recommended. I have seen different people on the GD forum use the cooker the way they wanted to and they did not have issues.
I have had no issues with customer service. TK always said he wanted to treat people like he would want to be treated. There were times he was in India but usually I believe someone else was available to answer the phone but I am not sure about that. Last I heard TK wanted to retire and the son was going to take over so TK was helping with the transition. I know there have been people on the forum over the years who rave about customer service.
People who have Grill Domes seem to really like them. You can buy one for less than competitors unless you find them on sale. I mentioned the hinge issue but other brands have misalignments, lids fall off, poor fitting vents and other things. Whatever brand you buy there is a possibility that something could go wrong during the time you own it. One thing about this GD is that mine has sat for several months at times because of my schedule without getting mold inside.
There should be no issues with customer service but there might not be local dealers near you depending on where you live if that is important to you. They were supposedly going to be expanding and getting more dealers but who knows how many and where they will be. In my opinion Grill Dome is at least just as good as any other brand other than Komodo Kamado and build quality speaks for itself.