Respected Alden Connoisseurs:
I just received my very first Aldens! A #975 and a #403. After reading some reports of questionable QC from Alden in the past, I made sure to inspect my LWBs closely for any flaws. I found two notable areas of concern but I'm just not sure if I'm obsessing about the sort of small flaws that simply come with territory or if I'm dealing with a significant defect. If any of you on the board would be so kind as to offer your thoughts I would very much appreciate it.
One of the shoes has a pretty big gap between the rubber heel piece and the leather heel and some cracking in the heel leather as well.There is some gap on the other shoe but not nearly to the same extent. I tried to capture some pictures:
Image #2 shows the cracking pretty clearly and Image #3 shows the gap well. Does this seem to be an entirely cosmetic issue or could it effect the life of the shoe? Is a return likely to result in a shoe with just as many issues? Is this something that I could easily have remedied by a good cobbler?
If it's relevant, I ordered from NRO (post reviewing my experience forthcoming).
There is what appears to be some discoloration on the tongue underneath the laces. An area the size of a few quarters that looks a little darker than the rest of the shoe. Is that likely to be an imperfection in the hide or dying process what will never go away or is it something that will even out with brushing and polish etc. I suppose in the grand scheme discoloration under the laces is among the least offensive places to have something like that.
Thanks for any wisdom you might have to share!