IMO Gitzo tripods are just sold on their name (and high cost
Glorified Manfrottos.... and made in the same factory I'm told.
The classic Gitzo tripod existed when they had the green hammered paint finish and no other tripod manufacturer could come close to their build quality and stability. Thats not the case any longer and there is much more choice for a lot less money.
I know forums have a tendency for people to hang out and only complain when things go wrong but I've heard so many stories from people (and also a couple of guys in this thread) having problems that it seems to me there not the same great tripod as old. Considering the cost to purchase one is so high, they should never go wrong........
I agree to a certain extent, but not entirely. I do think Gitzo products are somewhat overpriced (just like RRS), but they're also excellent products for the most part. IMHO the 2-series Gitzo's are over-rated, and there are plenty of 3rd-party alternatives that are probably just as good (maybe better).
The 3-series are very well made though, and don't have as many true competitors. (And just look at the RRS tripod, it's even more expensive).
Gitzo also has some products that are unique in the market place, such as the extra-tall models which I don't think anybody else offers. So if they 3541-XLS is the model you're interested in, there's not much else to consider.