Well I was kind of stupid too, I thought I could get punkbuster to work with it. I dont remember what I did exactly, but I tried compatibility mode and some other things. I installed cod4 first thing to test out gaming performance, and I couldn't join servers because it said something about "unknown api function", wasn't a firewall issue and I had updated the punkbuster files.
here's a link to a forum discussion similar to mine around the same time...
The problem was I took it a bit too far in trying to fix it I think. I figured it was something simple like a mismatch of expected build numbers, I was running 6801 and it was expecting 6001. Compatibility mode was a simple enough fix in theory, but I guessed and tested too much for its liking and it banned me I assume. Obviously I can't know for sure that that was the cause, but the only thing that was different was Windows 7 instead of Vista. I was banned the next day I tried to play on Vista, seems like more then a coincidence.
Punkbuster informed me that they didn't collect any information that would be able to verify my story, so they couldn't unban my key. They told me it was either me hacking or someone hacking with my key. I know they probably get similar stories from actual hackers and they need to be careful. However, given the fact that I know more about what I was doing on my PC at the time, I find it more likely that it was my attempts at getting it to work. If I was hacked, none of the security measures I had in place noticed it, and the only thing of any value that has affected me in the last 5 months, is the key, which again, I find unlikely.
The game came out in November 2007, and it's still $50 on steam. I understand it's a popular game, but I think that's a bit much, especially with CoD:WaW out. As I said, it's more of annoyance then anything, I don't feel like spending the full $50 or even $40 on a game I feel cheated out of.
As for G2Play.net, might go for that if nothing better shows up, thanks for the feedback.