That's sad. 40% is huge! I would say around 10% is ok. His calculation uses the higher section readout as the divisor - this minimizes the percentage difference. If 20% + diff are regularly shipped as 'Gold', I'd pay more for 'Platinum'. I thought my experience was the norm.
His story about how he aquired this massive stash of NIB tubes - something like flying to Europe to close a deal worth 'hundreds of thousands of dollars'. That would imply he bought 10s of thousands of these! He even shows an open case. This allows one to assume he has a deep stock to ship from, and can send better selected tubes.
Tube dealers! I guess it's not just the Russians.
BTW One difference between the CCa and the E88CC is the select tolerances.
Totally agree with your comments. My post was as much a sympathy for PinkLed and his bent pins, smudged label, as my disappointment with the "Gold" standard. That being said, my "Gold" grade tubes sound fantastic. On a more upbeat note, my "Platinum" pair I just received a couple days ago measured: T1-17400, T2-17000=2.35%, the second tube: T1-17000, T2-16500=3.03%. I agree, "Platinum" is the way to go with these! Overall the value and fantastic sound of these tubes outweigh some slight disappointments.