rish3 - 5:13 am on Mar 1, 2013 (gmt 0)
I think it has a lot to do with which underpaid minion ends up handling your request. I've had half-ass clean-up jobs get a penalty revoked on the first request.
I've also had one effort where I created a 10k row spreadsheet documenting EVERY SINGLE LINK, whether it was natural or not, and what I did to fix the problem. Including date/time stamps of emails sent, links successfully removed, and those where the site owner did not respond, with a reference to the disavow entry, etc. 100% documented effort with serious hours behind it. Rejected 4 times in a row with boilerplate replies. 5th time was the charm. No new work done, just more apologetic wording. Or perhaps just more time for spammy links to fall off naturally?
It's a crapshoot. Throw in a little more effort, deeper documentation, and some more fake remorse. Maybe you'll get a more sympathetic drone the next round :)