I think the bigger question is...what determines price? And is that price justified? I've seen $600 shoes where the difference between them and $1,200 shoes is negligible. I've also seen $1,200 shoes that don't deserve to be. So I don't think it's a fair assumption that a $1,200 pair of shoes automatically has a better quality of stitching and overall finishing as well as a higher level of QC versus a $600 pair of shoes. $600 is a substantial sum for a pair of shoes. At that level, fit and finish should be outstanding in my opinion and the law of diminishing marginal returns should come into play beyond that dollar mark.
Regardless, what I do know is that a heritage brand like Alden, where the shoes are crafted by hand in America and the website has a section devoted to "standards of quality", should not even remotely let shoes with the defects I encountered (not once, but twice in a row) out of their hands. If I had only received one pair in this condition, I would have chalked it up as one that just fell through the cracks. Receiving two with the same issues instills a lack of confidence that a third pair would yield any better results.
If I've just been lucky in receiving decent quality Aldens thus far and my luck was bound to end, then what are we doing here beside drinking the kool-aid? How is it acceptable that we roll the dice and write checks for $500+ and just accept the good with the bad with a smile on our faces? What we need to do is demand better! Otherwise, what motivation is there to improve? We are simply rewarding a company for an acceptable pair of expensive shoes 50 percent of the time!
Ok, rant over.
What are the defects that you are complaining about? They weren't that noticeable and they will end up much worse after a half dozen wears. They are shoes, not Picassos.