May 11, 2013

Letter to CEO of Mattress Discounters (the west coast version of the company)

To:  Mr. Dale Carlsen, CEO of Mattress Discounters 
Re:  Replacement box springs/foundation

Dear Mr. Carlsen:

In August 2012, I purchased a mattress, box springs, and bed frame from the Mattress Discounters located in Pleasant Hill, CA (Invoice #5XXXXXXXX). Actually, a kindhearted relative purchased it for me. (I am unable to find work in the San Francisco Bay Area at the moment and I have a young daughter, so as you can imagine money is pretty tight.) I desperately needed a new one as my old one was begging to be put out of its misery and long ago had given up any attempts to contain the metal coils within it. This was very painful. The protruding sharp metal coils, I mean.

When choosing the merchant from whom to purchase my new mattress, I chose Mattress Discounters without a second thought. I had purchased my very first mattress and box springs from a Mattress Discounters in Richmond, VA in 1999. I was 22 years old (and broke then, too! Ugh.) and was deliriously happy to be moving into my first apartment and starting graduate school. I stumbled upon a Mattress Discounters on W. Broad St. The sales associate was incredibly friendly and helpful and assisted me in locating a mattress and box springs set that fit my meager teaching assistant budget. I'm pretty sure it was the least expensive mattress in the whole store but I didn't care. I had my own place and I wouldn't be sleeping on my hardwood floors in the humid summer heat another night.

Since my experience with the east coast Mattress Discounters was so positive and my budget mattress lasted long beyond its projected lifespan before giving up the ghost, I decided to purchase from the west coast Mattress Discounters.  My initial second experience was also positive: the sales associate was efficient and helpful, my order arrived promptly, and the first few weeks on the new bed were absolutely blissful. During what was, I believe, our second month of new bed ownership, the trouble began. As my partner and I were settling in for the night, I turned over to go to sleep and we heard the cracking of wood from below the bed.  (I'm going to be honest, Mr. Carlsen: it didn't do much for my self-esteem.)  After a few more weeks there was a second sound of wood splitting from beneath the bed. Gradually, the problem progressed to the point at which we find ourselves today. 

I believe we were fairly “normal” users of the bed. If anything, we have been very LIGHT users of the bed. I am the mother of a toddler and a chronic insomniac; I am not in the bed nearly as much as I would like to be. My partner works hard and has a long commute; he is also not in the bed as nearly much as he would like to be. No one is jumping on the bed. There is no rough-housing on the bed unless you count my one year-old daughter diving into the pillows and blankets in order to evade having her jammies put on at night. As for other strenuous activities that often go on in folks' beds, well, Mr. Carlsen, as I mentioned we are the parents of a small child. We are tired. We are stressed about our finances. Let's just say this bed has had an easy life thus far.

The cracking and breaking of the wooden slats in the box spring/foundation portion of the bed has gotten out of control at this point. Each half of the bed sags dramatically so that sleeping in it is akin to curling up inside a taco. It's actually not as fun as it sounds. We have to roll uphill to get to the center of the mattress as well as to the outer edge. As a result I have started having some pretty severe back problems and I am now shuffling and limping and groaning around the house. It's very painful, Mr. Carlsen. I cannot afford to see a chiropractor. My partner and I switch off as to who “gets” to sleep on the couch in the living room.

I contacted your customer service center, and Rose Bauer in Sacramento, CA called me back in a timely manner. At her request, I photographed the mattress and box springs on top and underneath. I also took a picture of the splinters of wood of varying sizes and metal staples that now regularly litter my bedroom floor. (Please recall the oft-mentioned small child in my home. I don't know if you have children yourself, Mr. Carlsen, but babies and toddlers try to eat everything.) Ms. Bauer called me on Friday, May 11 to let me know that she'd spoken with her supervisor because she had some questions, and it was decided that there was so much breakage that it was due to damage on our part and not due to being defective and therefore would not be replaced under warranty. I emphasized to her that we had NOT damaged our box springs. (Honestly, why would we do this?) The men delivered the frame, mattress, and box springs and set them up for us and we haven't even so much as flipped the mattress in the interim. (I know I'm supposed to do it every six months. At least that's what Martha Stewart recommends.) Ms. Bauer repeated the conclusion that the box springs were considered damaged and not defective, and she was happy to offer me a 40% discount on the purchase of a new one.

Is Ms. Bauer accusing me of being untruthful? It feels like she is and I really have an issue with that. Also: spend more money at a Mattress Discounters after this? I don't think so.

I really hope you can help make this right, Mr. Carlsen. I do not believe I am asking for anything unreasonable. I love the mattress. I just need something to put it on that isn't going to collapse if I happen to have eaten dessert that evening. One only purchases so many mattresses in their lifetime; I have now gotten both of mine from Mattress Discounters and, in my opinion, that makes me a pretty good customer. I would appreciate being treated as such.


Amie X. Xxxxxxxx

March 9, 2013

Mine and yours

"...and all this was happening around 500 B.C. You know, when the Greeks were doing their thing.  In my region--not your region.  I don't know what yours were doing at that time.  Fucking sheep, probably."

A portion of Ivan's account of a chapter on Buddhism he'd recently enjoyed in a book on world religion, and one of many reminders that his Balkan ancestors are superior to my Northern European ones.

February 14, 2013

Today 2/14/13

I am putting them in the closet in a labeled box instead of getting rid of them. 

Just in case.

January 19, 2013

The good things

Things are pretty dire right now.  My unemployment has ended, and today I am placing my beloved bird Cricket in a new home.  If I let myself think about it all more than a couple seconds I melt into a puddle of fear and sadness.

So I need to focus on a good thing for at least a few moments.

I have a history of being a sad bastard on my birthday.  It's always been less about getting older  (though that is becoming more of a factor these days) and mTore about having way too many expectations and then being disappointed when no one lives up to them.  (The month is still young, however, and there is still time for me to catch up!)

There was, though, the year (2008?  I think it was?) my old book club and my friend D.P., in particular, had the sweetest and most thoughtful little surprise celebration for me at our monthly meeting.  I still have the origami cranes from that.  And the melted record album bowl.  And the cards.  Because it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.


Ivan called me from work on Thursday, breathless with excitement.  I was surprised, because usually when he calls from work he sounds much more tired.  He started telling me what all errands he'd run during a couple hours he had off earlier in the afternoon, and then he burst in with, "and I got you something!"

He told me all about how he had wanted to find me something so special, something that could possibly convey the depth of his love ("That's a lot of expectations for one present," I pointed out as he shushed my skepticism.)

"I went to Haight Street," he said, "because there are so many weird goddamn shops close together that I figured if I was going to find something for you it would be there."  I rolled my eyes.  "Did you know there's a store there for Edwardian fashion?  Like, nice stuff.  I bet they only get customers one time a year..."

"Halloween," I broke in, just as he said, "Burning man."

"Anyway," he continued, "I went from store to store.  I even went into the Edwardian place.  Who knows?  Maybe they have something for you in there.  But I couldn't find anything.  I could find anything just right.  That said what I wanted to say.  I gave up.  Honey, I had given up!  And then I saw it.  Out of the corner of my eye.  There it was!"

"What, in a window?" I asked.

He went on to tell me about how the store clerk had been so helpful to him as they examined his options.  My curiosity grew and grew.

"You're going to love it!" he promised.  "You're going to know instantly why I got it for you and you're going to understand what you mean to me."

This was dramatic language even for Ivan.  I could barely disguise my doubt and disbelief, though I was completely intrigued by whatever item he thought could accomplish all this.

He wasn't done.

"Also I'm going to prove you wrong over what you said at Christmas.  How you said I didn't get you at all.  I do get you!  I get you and I love you so much!  You mean so much to me.  Do you want it now?  Yes!  Let me give it to you now!  I don't think I can wait."

I was completely blown away by the level of enthusiasm he was showing for this (and it doesn't even involve Warhammer!) but I said, "Look.  You would not believe the history I have for negotiating my presents early.  But I want to wait for this one.  Things have been so hard for so long for us and my birthdays usually feel so crappy to me that it would be really nice to have something to look forward to on my birthday."

He was doubtful and pointed out that he had to work on my birthday and I would be home alone with the baby.  I knew that, though.  And I don't even need the present.  The thought and effort that he put into really touched me, and this birthday, in one of the last days that I will be able to stay home with my girl before something--one way or another--changes.  This is enough.