I agree in most cases, but in the case of the Dalton boots pictured, I personally have a hard time seeing what the problem is--a minuscule notch in the leather? Maybe AE feels the same way and does not regard that as a defect. Now the shell Daltons with the ripple in the toe is another matter, and I'm sure AE would agree.
I would hope that all of us can appreciate the customer service of AE--second to none. If the notch is a problem for the buyer, they would probably take them back. Alden on the other hand, would politely tell you to go jump in the lake and they wouldn't miss you as a customer (which I personally think is a piss poor way of conducting business, especially given the price of their shoes).
I think this was well said. The "dead animal skin" arguement only holds up to a certain point, and it is only useful for natural flaws in the leather. For defects that are caused by human error, one should be able to reserve the right to ask questions. That said, as loyal customers of AE, we have to remember that we are fans of a company putting out a fantastic product at a fantastic price point. There is a reason that companies in the pricier English shoemaking realm exist. This reason is that they go the extra mile to make shoes for people who want the longevity/durability of a goodyear welted shoe just like Allen Edmonds, but also want it to look almost flawless. I firmly believe that an Allen Edmonds shoe can last just as long as any of the fine English made shoes, but you are taking a discount on the price by purchasing a shoe that can't have as much time invested in the finest details. There has to be a trade-off at some point. If you are consistently unhappy with the imperfections, then you need to graduate up to one of the English companies IMHO. I enjoy paying my couple hundred bucks and walking around in shoes that look better and are higher quality than 98% of everyone else's out there. Allen Edmonds operates under the assumption that you know you are purchasing a shoe that is of high quality, but not flawless. Therefore, they will pass shoes that they consider acceptable to be sold as first rate. The great thing about Allen Edmonds is that they also realize that this falls into a subjective area, and they are willing to go the extra mile to try to meet your definition of first rate if you are unhappy with the product. This is one of the things that sets them apart from Alden as a great company.