Thanks for the reply!
I have checked the transmission fluid, and it looks to be at proper levels and not black / burned. The transmission hasn't ever been serviced, which the manual suggests at 100K. The check engine light is not on, nor are there any other symptoms other than the hard shifting and moving the stalk out of park.
Trust me, I won't ever be taking a car to a dealer unless it's under warranty. I do have a local mechanic I trust, but are you suggesting that he won't have the equipment to test the transmission? Can I simply ask if he has a "transmission scanner"?
Just curious, what's the reasoning behind avoiding a chain transmission shop?
Thanks again for the response.