This is one of the silliest threads on head-fi. This sets a bad precedent for a great many manufacturers (included many in the audio world) who look at events like this and think: "gee, look at that mess HFM got into. We'd better not let the consumer have any say."
How many other companies take consumer input so seriously?
If I were a manufacturer this would make me that much more trepid about asking the community for input, or listening to feedback.
Also, manufacturing concerns might be at play: expense, speed of production, and other construction factors. The pre-production and production models sound so close that frankly, you won't magically love one and hate the other. If it's for you, you'll hear it. If not, no amount of pad changing is going to make this a night-and-day difference.
I know this hobby is a lot about details, but c'mon guys, chill until you hear it.