Hi PeterJ and niccyboy
Thanks for your comments / replies on my lonnnnggg post :-) I appreciate what each of you has written in relation to this. It seems like we're on the same boat... generally go with what you know, and some store staff might help you with some (extra) info - but don't bank on it.
Where a product is available significantly cheaper eg online, it can be worth getting it if one is prepared to wait. I've never had issues importing lenses and accessories from other countries.
The only problem I've ever had with my 7D was that 'built in flash' not popping up (after using a speedlite). I researched and discovered it as a problem with some Canon camera bodies... and tried to get the microswitch to get 'unstuck' (without voiding the warrantee). It wouldn't get unstuck, so I got it repaired (for free, and it took about 2 to 3 weeks, as it needed to be sent interstate). I'm glad I had my 350D as a backup :-)
Interestingly the 350D never has this problem. My 7D has got stuck once or twice since the repair (and they did replace the whole flash assembly / mount area). This getting a bit 'restuck' has happened when I have a flash (or my remote timer house mounted on it), but each time with a slight push down on the underside of the mount, it releases the microswitch and will pop up). Hopefully that won't cause future issues.
For time-lapse photography, I use my 350D (which is probably just as good, as it actually has just as clean, if not cleaner ISO 100 shots anyway). So I mount my interval timer / remote housing on the 350D instead.