1) they’ve been doing this for at least 15 yearsI think MF/GC may have started this last year when inventory was desperately low. Also now that states are taxing internet sales even without brick and mortar presence they may no longer need to maintain as much separation between MF and GC. They really should disclose if you are going to be shipped a GC floor model through MF and they should allow MF returns at GC though. I’m sure if you call MF when you order and know to ask, they can tell you where your order is coming from.
2) you can return MF purchases to Guitar Center. They don’t like to make this widely known, but I’ve done it. May depend on who you talk to at that moment.