I agree with you that CS is not a substitute for QC. However, the large number of seconds has created a marketplace for the outlets. Basically AE has created an entry level line for consumers who would perhaps find the $385 price unreachable but $249 and below in their budget. By getting them comfortable with the product at a lower price, those purchasers may eventually move up to retail, or at least 1st quality buyers.
Imagine what would happen if AE fixed their manufacturing to a 1% exception rate. The shoebank would disappear, the outlets would disappear and they would need to create an entirely new entry level line if they wanted to retain their 2nds customer. And that is not to say that a new line would be a successfull strategy. 2nds represent "value" to a lot of buyers.
I am not saying that they are doing this on purpose, but I'll bet they sell a hell of a lot more shoes the way things are now than if they fixed their qc issues and stopped selling 2nds.