It's not being sensitive. Anything new on the commercial market from a large company should be 99+% perfect. The price difference between AE and Vass shouldn't be sloppiness or poor quality control. I don't expect to buy a Honda with door dings from the factory because it isn't the price of a Bentley. I expect the price difference to be in the actual quality of product, not the company's ability to execute manufacturing and put a product out the door that is free of issues.
Now the price has gone up, and all of the PR about stepping up quality, making shoes for everyone, converting the Cole Haan buyers blah blah blah...and it seems like every other post in here is about quality control. So while my sample size is small, I have to agree. Price going up, quality (or control) going down.
Maybe they have second tier "Firsts" that they save for online customers hoping they wont want to go through the back and forth of shipping.
I didn't mean sensitive in the emotional sense. I meant it in the sense of being very attuned to, focused upon, or attentive to quality flaws or defects in their shoes. I do believe that the average AE buyer is less attentive to quality control issues than the folks on this forum. I'm not saying that excuses AE quality control, I'm just saying that it might be why every other post in here is about quality as of late.