@Newberry Doesn't surprise me really. Whenever I talk to customer service I feel like I get one of two wildly different extremes - either someone totally clueless or someone who knows everything in the company for decades. Never a middle ground.
The original Sea Island was kept at 299 and was made in the USA. When it didn't sell well, they unloaded the inventory to NR and re-released it made in the DR at the same price, but have had it on sale at 199 a few times. I think they said the USA made was too costly. Both are on the 555 - if you have the opportunity to get the USA version, do it - it ain't coming back.
Thank you Neo!