I agree with the above, plus I think the natural competition the Higgins Mill is something like a Red Wing Beckman which retails around $325-350, but can often be found below $300 on sale. It may be that AE wants to get them out there on the streets and create some buzz.
The "defects" that have been brought up have been minor for the most part. Possibly if they had been bought in a store some people would have swapped them for another from the in-store stock or even wait on a reorder. But for all those people, there would likely be an equal number that would have just walked out the store as is.
The Higgins Mill is a causal work style boot. IMO, while structural defects or blatantly bad leather is NOT acceptable, the small dings and scuffs or sloppy welt joints are not quite the same as loose grain or scratches on a pair of Park Avenues or Daltons. As a pull-up leather, CXL is quite soft and pliable, its going to dent and crease quite readily on its own, and remember light scratches can typically rubbed out with your finger by redistributing the oils.
That is how I feel also....it is a casual boot...Ive actually always just asssumed the slight indentation in the toe was intentional...I remember noticing it when I originally went to go scout them in the store before I ever even placed an order... if youve ever owned a strandmok in brown or tan, you know that certain casual models are intentionally pre-distressed/pre-scuffed by AE for visual effect. Some people dislike this technique and Im not saying thats necessarily the case with the Higgins Mill, but with it being an overwhelmingly casual cxl boot, I wouldnt be surprised if it were the case (especially since the "problem" is so consistent and widely pervasive). But I actually really like the shape of the boot, myself.