I disagree. There was no problem when you initally asked for suggestions about what the child might like- nobody says you HAVE TO buy exactly what the parent suggests.
The only problem arose when you emailed back saying "I couldn't find X, so I bought Y instead. Is that OK?". If you'd only emailed the one time, there wouldn't have been any problems.
And the answer to the first email might have been "DC loves vehicles and art supplies and books but hates cuddly toys" which would have been extremely useful with selecting an appropriate gift!
And yes, I wish she had given me more general suggestions such as you mentioned. But she didn't. So...
the kid is getting a jumbo Hello Kitty floor puzzle which I bought for 6.99 at Job Lot today!
This whole issue has totally driven me nuts, it has required several trips to the store to get the "right" gift, and I am not even friends with this woman nor is my DS friends with her DD! We are going to the party b/c the whole class was invited and DS wants to go. I wasn't expecting the gift buying to be such a fiasco.
In the past when I have asked for ideas, I've gotten general suggestions which has worked out great.
In the future IF I do ask, I will be sure to clarify that I need more general ideas IF the mom is so clueless as to think I should run around town looking for THE gift...or maybe I'll just keep a stack of jumbo gender-neutral puzzles on hand!