I wonder if they are doing this so they can save the cost of having to raise them knowing how many die.. this way they can sell them while they are young and hopefully get rid of them before they put too much money and care into them and before anything happens.. I can see a lot of little kids wanting them because they want a baby fish. Parents would buy it not knowing how delicate the fish was.
Shipping them is too expensive for this concern to be real. A shipping box with $100.00 dead fish in it would be a major embarrassment to the supplier.
I was told that there are normally less than 5 dead in their deliveries and that most Petco stores REFUSE the large x-mass shipments many places normally get.
The main problem with the "baby betta" is simply that quite a few of them end up being physically retarded, literally underdeveloped because of mutation or sensitivity to exposure. When they make the bulk fish feed they do use processed fish and if the balance isn't right you can have too much of one or the other hormones polluting the tank.
The other problem is quite simple... while the "domestic veil tail" is the majorly dominant trait, you do get throwback round-tail girls who are just terrors in a Sorority. They don't respect the order they themselves have established and might as well be a short fin male.
Round Tail males will even attack ornaments. Don't get me wrong, they're great pet fish and very attentive but on occasion when I was removing Martin from his 1.5g to clean it, I simply moved him while he was latched ONTO the net because getting him INTO the net was proving impossible from his willingness to bite it's "tail" off.
Without jumping up and down and screaming just mention to the fish people in the stores that the babies, while mostly viable, are not the best option for sales. They're still inexperienced and can easily disappoint the customer and shipment should be blocked.