I would like to restate the point that I fully understand that these are unfinished cabinets. However, I expected that "unfinished" merely meant that a finish has not been applied. That is, the cabinets have been prepared up to the point until a finish is applied and all the buyer has to do is apply the finish that he wants. However, in its current state, a lot of work has to be done to the cabinets before a finish can be applied. Certainly the black veneer that Ascend uses cannot be applied to these cabinets.
I think it is perfectly reasonable for Ascend to ask for full price for these unfinished cabinets. It is not their standard cabinet, which they get in large quantities. Unfinished cabinets is an option that they offer to their customers so that they can finish them in something other than black vinyl. Any time you add a "special case" to your product line, you add some complexity to your process which adds cost to handle. So whatever savings Ascend receives from the cabinet supplier (I doubt there are any, but even if...) it is probably offset by these additional costs they incurr just to have the extra process to handle unfinished cabinets.
An update for this situation is that Ascend indicated that these unfinished cabinets are representative with what they should look like. So there is not something uniquely wrong with these cabinets. As such, I indicated that I would like to exchange them for a regular black finished pair, which they were more than happy to oblige. Top notch service as always.
If nothing else, this thread would be good for those who may be looking to buy unfinished Ascend speakers to get an idea of what to expect when they receive their speakers.