Certainly everyone has their own experiences and opinions--informed by those same personal experiences--and I guess I'm just lucky I've not had any of these problems, (save, perhaps, the $1 store junkers).
When I was a rebellious teen-aged smoker and BIC introduced the flint-wheel cover thing, I'd simply rip it off - they all still worked fine, but it was the principle of the matter! It was some of the other cheap plastic lighters with terrible child proof switches and buttons that seemed to fail on me if I removed them. When the BICs went through the wash--and perhaps the dryer without blowing up--they still worked fine.
These days, while hiking, I keep my mini BIC in my kitchen (cook pot setup) where it is safe from crushing. Operating anything small that requires finite dexterity with cold hands can be tricky. I work a lot with my hands so I've fairly tough skin, which probably helps save the inside of my thumb. I don't find the wheel cover problematic and if it's that cold the BIC goes into the pocket for a minute while I setup my drink, food, or a traditional fire. I've matches kept safe and dry in my first aid kit - packed appropriately. A fire steel of some sort is about the only way we can 'not' worry about mechanical or structural failure, but unless we're starting liquid/vapor fuel, proper kindling is required for that fire steel to start a traditional fire (which we are aware of when we decide to pack the 'steel).
It's interesting how we pick and choose gear based on our experiences, opinions, and needs....right down to the basics.