Dr30-- I find the above a little hard reading, due to the continues layout.And it might put others off from reading it also.
Acer are quite correct in referring you to Laptop Direct, who are the seller, and as such under consumer law, they are responsible for resolving the matter. Acer have a different role to play, possibly as warranty agents.
One question that I would ask: How did Acer become involved. Was it on the instructions of Laptop Direct?.
What I would suggest, is that you contact your local trading standards, CAB or similar Advice Centre. You could also contact Consumer Direct click here
If you purchased the laptop via a credit card payment, then contact your credit card provider for further advice and assistance.