I agree with your comments. I would like to add a few points.
Generally speaking, nuc production, nuc availability, and nuc expectations, are based on local conditions. Whereas, package production and quality are set on a much larger bases. Let me explain each as follows.....
Most packages are produced from larger commercial outfits. With that comes such things as standard production from one producer to the next, state inspections since most ship across state lines, and the added benefit of long established experienced owners. Down sides to such operations are perhaps mass produced queens, pests, etc. There are both good and bad from such operations. But I think the standard of what one is getting, is well known and expected.
Nucs on the other hand, are normally locally produced, with a few exceptions. Some states do not have inspectors or any protocol. Nuc availability is based on someone at the local club making up a few for a new beekeeper, and this may be filled with many potential problems. If I asked at the local club, if anyone would be willing to sell me three pounds of bees, nobody will. If I ask the same question, but ask for a nuc, there are always some willing to sell a few frames and a queen for a quick cash transaction. But is that a smart move? Are you getting a good product with clean comb, and a quality queen?
What I am saying, is that most packages are from at least operations that are inspected and has a level of "standard". I would also say that for many, nuc experiences are across the board in that there are few actual suppliers of nucs in any given area, and that many are just the "guy" at the local club, trying to make a buck. Which may be a far cry from what people expect, and actually receive.
If you had a bad experience with nucs, it was not the "nuc" that was bad. It was the supplier who provided them. Nucs clearly will outperform any package. Nucs also give you a chance to order from a regional or more localized supplier, and many times a different strain from that of the standard package supplier. I openly support local producers.
There are more nuc producers now than before. And it is in the industry's interest that beekeepers get to know local breeders, ask questions, and understand that just because someone sells nucs down at the local club, does not mean your getting much for your money.
I get hammered everytime I say this, but I know many nuc producers I would not touch with a ten foot pool. Old comb, contaminated wax, and a host of problems can exist. Buying a nuc should be more than paying the first guy willing to provide one to you at the local club.
There are quality nuc producers out there. Ask some questions, do your homework. The problem I see, is that there are not enough good nuc producers in most areas. But because demand is overwhelming and many orders can not get filled, there are always some "fringe"' producers, who are willing to sell a few to a new beekeeper. And many times it's these same producers that are operating "under the table" or "under the radar screen" of inspectors or other requirements, that can give everyone a bad reputation. The one's you should order from are those that are laying it out on the table, and know their reputation is at stake, and advertise as such.
IMO - Bottom line is that a nuc is a better option than packages. If you got a bum nuc, it's NOT the concept of the nuc that failed you, it was a producer. Seek out a nuc producer and find a good one. You will not be disappointed.