Shortly after receiving the bike, a Schwinn ClearCreek , the front derailleur stopped working (less than 50 miles on it, maybe 3 months ago). I gave up on it for a while and just kept the the chain on the second sprocket.
Around a month ago I decided that I really need to get it working. Since then, I've spent 20+ hours, broken several tools, and cut myself twice attempting to get this thing functional.
Right now it is as good as I have gotten it. I can go from '1' to '2' to '3', then from '3' to '2', but it won't return to '1'...
Time to add the bike to the bonfire?
Well, I wouldn't be throwing the thing in the bonfire just yet. I did look the bike up and it does appear that it is a dept store style bike, yes? Before getting rid of it, I may take it to a local bike shop and see what you think. Also look at the videos for derailleur adjustment on this site. My guess it that it may be a matter of adjusting your high and low screws, but it could also be the derailleur was defective to begin with. Or, you mentioned broken tools so it may have gotten broken in the process.
Did the bike come assembled? Remember that if you got it at Target/Wal-mart/etc., the mechanics there are probably not as well trained. Not to say they cannot set up a bike or bad workers, but they may not know as much as someone that works at a local shop. It could be the part is defective or that the cables are not working properly.
Here is an interesting link from Sheldon Brown, an old bike guru about department store bikes:http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_da-o.html#department
So, at 50 miles, you may be nearing that mark. But, it does not mean without a little adjustment here and an inexpensive used, quality part there, it cannot be a decent bike.
A frequently neglected area of setting up the fd is the height above the top ring, this needs to be as close as pos without fouling, the alignment is also critical, especially on shaped plates.
I set this up with the cable disconnected and use a short piece of wire to pull it manually whilst rotating the pedals, having confirmed all functions operate properly, re connect the cable from the shifters and tauten the cable and adjust the shifters as required.
A work stand is useful, but a substitute is a noose hanging from the garage roof into which you can slot the saddle, if you set it so the front wheel is on the ground, the bike won't swing around too much.
And in any case, this should be covered by warranty, try giving your supplier a ring and complain, they should tell you to get if fixed at a lbs and send them the bill.