Since TM is still in production, I don't know why you would have received such an old bottle. Makes me wonder if all the testers the online places are selling are old. If so, then that would definitely change my opinion about buying testers online.
I don't blame you for sending it back. It will be interesting to see if you like it better when you get another bottle of it from an authorized seller.
Depending on what you buy, however, you are just as likely to get older bottles of Creed from authorized sellers as you are from the online places. Santal Imperial, for example, is still being sold by Neiman Marcus online. But if you buy it, you will likely receive a bottle that was produced in 2008. Green Valley is another example. I purchased a bottle of GV from Parfums Raffy (who is an authorized seller) and the bottle I got was dated 2005. I got another one from Luckyscent that was from 2006. Just because they are older bottles does not mean they are bad. According to Luis at the Boutique, the clock does not start ticking until the bottle has been sprayed. But even then, if they have been stored properly, the fragrance should last many years. Even the Boutique will send out older bottles of discontinued fragrances if those are the only ones left.
I recently bought 2 bottles of Vetiver 1948 and the date on both of them was from 2008. But I was obviously lucky to get them and felt very fortunate, even though they are 4 year old bottles.
I think the bottle you got from Beauty Encounters is likely legit. But if it's old and doesn't smell right (i.e, is defective), you have valid reasons to return it.