Just to let you guys know, as a web designer who regularly programs database systems similar to what Blue Nile (and pretty much any online retailer big or small) uses, it's completely possible on rare occasion to have an inventory system set up perfectly and yet still have this sort of situation happen (where two customers simultaneously submit orders for the same item and you're left to call one of them and explain that you unfortunately won't be able to fulfill their purchase as ordered). This is because most websites over a certain size can't be handled by a single server (a server is nothing more than a computer that stays turned on 24/7 and sends text, images, etc to your computer every time you request a new page on the website). Blue Nile certainly is of a size where I'm sure their website is served by several dozen individual computers (at least), all networked together. When you set up something like that - through a master networking device called a load balance (which takes each individual person's request and sends it to the computer that's currently least busy), each computer is probably going to have a separate copy of the full database on their hard drive (since database searches are one of the most processing-intensive things they do to serve up a website, yet every single page load usually involves one or more database lookups). This introduces the problem of having to constantly keep these multiple copies of the database in-sync with each other. Of course, there are processes to handle this, and a website like Blue Nile, where the majority of the items available have an in-stock quantity of only 1 and therefore need to mark a listing completely unavailable almost every time a purchase is made, I'm sure has built out a very robust and quick database-synchronization system to keep it as updated as they possibly can. But even then, you have to understand that with the size of this website and the size of its database, there's still no way to get instant synchronization among a number of computers. In fact, even the best servers and processing and networking equipment, when dealing with a challenge of this size, may very well take up to a minute still to sync all changes among, say, 12 computers hosting the database. So no matter how hard they try, making phone calls like this one is just going to be a daily item that customer support is going to have to handle. I'm sure Blue Nile makes several such phone calls every day, and will continue to make them until the technology powering our servers catches up to the load placed on them. They aren't trying to bait and switch you, and they know they're undoubtedly losing sales due to customers becoming suspicious whenever this happens. The only thing they could possibly change would be to maybe try and educate consumers about this when calling to explain that this really is unavoidable and happens to several people every day who order from them. That's why I'm sure they've invested in the best servers they can - because one $9000 order a day can buy quite a bit of networking equipment.
Don't be so suspicious. Most people running businesses are actually trying to provide as good of a service and as high quality as they possibly can. We don't get some sort of pleasure out of cheating people, and earning money in less-than-honest ways certainly doesn't lead to great self-respect. Most of the time, owning a business can provide more than enough for all your needs and wants without having to resort to any dishonest tactics - and the way economics works, often honesty and fairness and truly striving to do the best for your customers actually ends up paying off better in the end than exploiting them ever could have. Most businesses know this, and most complaints like this one are just spoiled rotten consumers who are so used to being treated well that they've come to expect businesses to bend over backward and end up complaining about things that they don't really understand fully and which the business couldn't even have avoided. Blue Nile probably hasn't gotten back to you because you came off sounding spoiled rotten and accusatory and just happened to have your annoying "inquiry" read by someone who'd already answered 80 or so inquiries that day and had had enough of unpleasant people. I'll tell you, when I did customer service, I used to just close tickets sometimes without an answer when the tone was overall too unpleasant or impolite. I had the advantage of owning the business, so I could decide when I wasn't interested in servicing someone and didn't want their money, but I wish more companies, especially national ones, would start to take a similar approach and allow their customer service more latitude to respond to impolite, unpleasant people with less tolerance. I certainly bet miss "I already had a solitaire and don't need your $9000 diamond" who doesn't have a clue what a MySQL database is or why they seem to take several seconds to sync together more data than passed through her head in the last year wouldn't be quite so hard to tolerate if more of the people who she acted impolite toward were allowed by their companies to push back to some degree and put her in her place. Remember that in a sense, you're doing the world a favor whenever you shoot down someone like that. They need to learn that they aren't who they think they are.