Ya, from what I have read around, the testers seems to be a safer bet. As for dates I've recently purchased a bottle of Creed from a known retailer and the dates were scratched off. The product smelled extremely weak compared to the sample I got from theperfumedcourt which smelled fantastic...the reason why I bought the bottle. So I was very disappointed in that regard.
Also I am not sure there is lots of sites that put some creed bottles as EDT where others are EDP I know from what I've read that eau de toilette are much weaker than eau de parfum maybe that could be a reason why the product smelled weaker...I am new at this so I am not 100% positive as I am still researching this.
Good luck with your purchase