New HM's are not tuned to pugs, and I agree.
3-4 wipes and guess what? You are out nearly 100K in repair costs. This isn't sustainable, especially with crap credit gains from warzones, space missions, and FP's.
Pugs find the HM's difficult, and there is clearly a gap in gear progression..
What do I mean gap?
Well for me, augmented 146 armor in MOST CASES is better than the 156 basic comm gear. So it looks like I am a 146 geared tank, when in reality my stats surpass the 156 basic comm gear. That's a gear gap that isn't acceptable. Why would I choose gloves at 156 that grant 12 more armor, but I lose 54 shield, and gain 47 accuracy? That's simply idiotic the 156 tanking armor is poorer quality than the 146 stuff..
So what happens is there is a BIIIIIIIIIIG gear gap between 146 and 160's, that leaves pugs in the dust, especially if the pugs aren't able to get into guild operations and at least grab some gear.
I get the impression this game isn't well thought out, and lacks good production values, and direction.
I have fully augmented 162 gear in every slot possible and my repair cost is somewhere between 6k and 15k per repair. So you are exaggerating there by a lot. I got all that 162 by running 55 HM FPs with pretty mediocre 150 gear. Also, the optional boss and final boss of the 55 HM FPs drop 162 gear and that is the point of doing them. You can use basic comms to get gear that will make 55 HM FPs easier. You're also wrong about your 146 gear being better than 156, regarless of what you might think, so more power to you learning that the hard way when you try to take on some of the real challenges in SWTOR. Why you chose to spend credits augmenting 146 gear is a mystery to me, it's totally unnecessary because you should be spending that money on your 162 pieces. That way you can run hard mode level 55 Ops.
I'm guessing that the reason it's so easy to gear up to 162 is to give returning players coming back to the game after a break a chance to gear up for Ops as quickly as possible. It looks to me like you just lack the ability to work with your PUGs to take the 55 HM FP content seriously and do what's necessary with CCs and kill order. Not everyone suffers from this problem.