but it could also just an extreme version of what could go wrong
It leaves me shaking my head too. But fortunately these are distant outliers. In my experience, Alembic build to order basses generally take no less than 5 months for low and moderate end models and more for series models. It seems like customization that requires the folks to do something that needs skills or designs substantially outside Alembic's (very broad) range of "typical" custom capabilities will sometimes result in designs being passed back and forth till the customer approves. That takes time.
By the time you finish putting together your initial order, you'll feel very well taken care of, and salivating for the day your bass arrives. The Alembic folks make their customers feel like family. If ever waiting for a bass to be built and planning to be in the Bay Area or wine country, the Alembic folks are generally very welcoming to visits (Do call ahead.). I hate to sound so totally partisan - I've heard other custom builders that do a great job accommodating their customers (for the money involved, it's reasonable to expect). But my experiences with Alembic left me with good memories and a pretty clear sense of how my bass was built. To illustrate further, my wife (not generally a fan of my GAS) loved Mica and staff so much that she framed the pics of my family's visit to see my bass during its build.