As for Winston S's problems with his Strands, there are definitely some significant issues there that would certainly bug me for $300 shoes. However, I think the awesomeness of AE's 2nds program tends to cause us to forget that these shoes are designated as 2nds because they supposedly have significant defects that would prevent people from paying full price for them. Not saying Winston shouldn't return and hope for better luck next time, just that everyone should buy 2nds understanding that there's a reason that good-year welted, full-grain leather, American-made shoes are so cheap. So anyway, that's a long way of saying that I'd keep 'em if AE didn't have another pair of 2nds in my size.
I disagree with saying "significant defects". I own a few pair of seconds and can bearly find the defect(s). I think that they look for thing that could deter someone from purchasing at full price. I had fa shoe with 1/8 inch of over glue on the leather near the sole. Pulled the glue off which left that patch lighter. After the 1st polish the spot was gone. I wouldn't call that significant.