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They were on my "potential buys" list already, meaning I'd researched them and their required parameters and such matched my tank, which is why I felt reasonably comfortable about pulling the trigger there and then. I also did a quick internet lookup on my phone while at the shop, although that's something I should do on my own time at home in peace and quiet, I admit.
In my rage, I left many nasty internet reviews of that shop where I bought the Serpaes, and as I've cooled down I wonder if I gave them a fair review... but I think I can let those reviews stand - in the end, the woman on the phone really was extremely rude and unhelpful. Even if the policy is "no returns", she could at least TRIED to offer help instead of making me feel like a complete fool.
Anyway, after such a stressful few days, in the end I feel way more prepared with dealing with such situations in the future.
I think this, like most other things in life, is not black-and-white and in an ideal world, everybody would look at every situation on a case-by-case basis, where an open dialogue between aquarist and fish dealer exists, and people can try to be reasonable to one another... But then again, I'm talking about things here that can create world peace, and so maybe this is an unreasonable pipedream.