I hate to say it, but I totally agree.
AE's phone reps have been super helpful and really nice, I've never gotten a bit of trouble with them questioning me -- I actually wish they'd ask more questions as it would allow me to pretend they're trying to fix the quality issue.
But in the end, I've now ordered 3 times for new shoes and sent back 4 pair. My most recent pair was the The City that had bowing at the throat so bad I could step out of them like they were oversized loafers. I ordered those a month and a half ago when the black friday shoes first came up and the replacements were just supposed to ship yesterday. It took me 3 months before I had a pair of LAX that I could wear this spring, as well.
By contrast, I got Rogues on the 4th of July flash sale for $199 and they are nearly perfect. I got a pair of Rutledge off the Shoe Bank for $177 if I recall correctly -- Independence line shoes and their only flaw was a slightly mis-sewn tongue that I can't feel and nobody could see. That's stupid cheap considering the overall quality.
I'm not complaining about the shoes I have on hand. They're all excellent quality, the LAX are cozy enough to stand on all day long, and I regularly get compliments on both the Rutledges and the Rogues. AE makes it right in the end. But I feel like I'm doing AEs quality control inspections for them when I've returned literally every pair of firsts I've ordered.