I know! I was mortified - and mine wasn't even because of utensil use - I was just warming some oil to brown some meat. I was worried that they wouldn't send me a new one as so many have deemed to be "at fault". Perhaps there was a manufacturing defect after all! I'll have to call and ask why it was deemed faulty.
I was lucky - I had the same thing happen to my 9 Qt dutch oven, and they sent me a new one (albeit in my first alternate color choice - they didn't have the color I orginally purchased in production).
While I was waiting for their verdict, I hemmed and hawed about what to do next, and considered all three of your questions. Here are my thoughts:
(1) I have young kids - I decided not to use the chipped pot as the chips that came up in my situation were quite sharp, and I would've hated to have them have something go wrong from eating the enamel pieces. If it was just me, I'd probably have chanced it. My damaged area also had "shalling" marks, or lines moving outward from the initial chip. I figured it was just a matter of time for those pieces to flake off.
(2) I don't know if other brands are more durable - there seem to be less complaints about chipping in other brands, but I think the smaller number of complaints were due to the fact that the pots were significantly less expensive and cooks didn't expect them to outlast a generation. Perhaps a non-enameled version (wow - they are pretty inexpensive) might be better for your use - if you can bear the seasoning process.
(3) I love my pot as I could simmer soups and beans forever without the dreaded burnt crust at the bottom - I don't think that is as easy to achieve in other types of cookware. And watch for the copper lined pan - it needs to be lined in tin to prevent the copper from leaching into food. We need copper, but it is also a toxic heavy metal, so too much isn't a good thing in our diets.
Please update us and let us know what you decided!