I agree it's kind of sad, but as I understand it you are correct........AOC performs his own QC. That being said his "irregulars" are priced lower that full price but not to the extent that TSM marks them down. I'd say he is still making a decent profit with his irregulars.
I am looking to purchase another pair of Aldens with crepe soles because of how tough these have turned out to be. And believe me, I was a crepe hater for a while.