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I flagged it to be moved yesterday. :P
But I have to agree. I'm not sure I've ever seen a part where not a single character (much less most of them) had a Wayfinder. It is a bit pricey for what little it does, but it's also sort of a badge of office, and I can't say how many times I've pulled my cloak aside to reveal my Wayfinder for just a second to indicate discretely what I just said has a hidden meaning or the like.
As for how mandatory it is, not sure. Have not played/read the scenario, but I can say that needing to buy things just to complete a scenario isn't uncommon. I literally just spent almost 2,000 gp yesterday in Glories of the Past 2 for that same reason, and a good portion of that was wasted by the end. That's more on the top end of what I can think of required spending, but there are plenty out there where entrance fee's are needed, specific gear/bribes/items are called for, etc. . .
And while it's probably not fun for the OP, sometimes that's just the way things go. It kind of sounds like between running cold and the party refusing to make a suggested purchase (without metagaming knowing what it meant), they came to an impasse they couldn't cross. Not to be mean, but sometimes this happens. Luckily, in my experience it's not common, and I can say I have only failed one scenario. I kind of felt like there was nothing we could do, and it wasn't really due to poor player/character choices, we just couldn't get past a certain point. So I get it, but still, sometimes failure (or worse) happens.