the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Mattress Expert


With blogs and bloggers becoming more important in the media, it’s become common to hear about a blogger interviewed by the New York Times or chatting on the Today show.  I don’t want to sound like I have sour grapes, but my opportunities in the “real” media world have been pretty thin.   That’s why I jumped out of my chair on Friday when I received an email from the The Dr. Phil Show. 

The email began —

“My name is Emily and I work with the Senior Producer at the Dr. Phil Show here at Paramount in LA…”

Emily continued on about some post I had written in 2006 about Sophia’s parents getting ripped off at a local mattress store.   She wanted me to call, so we could discuss this post. 

Woo-hoo!  I imagined fame and fortune and everything that goes with it…

But there was one red flag.  The letter was hastily written, with several spelling errors.  Was it spam or just written by  a very busy individual.  I googled Emily and was she legit.   My success was back on track.

I took a deep breath before calling the show.   I was a little anxious… for a very good reason.  I have made fun of Dr. Phil several times on my blog, even mocking his son’s marriage to a Playboy bunny. 

Then I remembered that he is a forgiving guy. 

“Isn’t that what his show is all about?”  I said to myself.

The past is the past.  Especially, if the Dr, Phil show wanted me as a guest.  I imagined an important show about “Senior Citizen Rip-offs” and Dr. Phil calling me from the audience:

Dr. Phil:  “And now, with more ways for seniors to protect themselves against shady mattress store franchises, I’d like to bring up blogger/consumer expert, Neil “Neilochka” Kramer, who writes the hugely-successful blog, Citizen of the Month.”

The female crowd goes wild.  Many lift  banners and signs, ala American Idol, reading “Take My Bra Off, Neilochka!”

With my mind jam-packed with these vivid images, I called up Emily at her Paramount office.  She quickly answered the phone.  She was waiting for my call. 

For me?!   My ego rose to heights never seen before.

“Thank you, thank you for calling back!” she said, somewhat frantically.

Wow!  Was the show that desperate to have me as a guest?   She seemed almost in awe of me, as if she was on the phone with Tom Cruise, begging him to come on the show for an exclusive interview.

“How can I help you?” I asked, speaking in a deeper than usual voice, trying to hide my New York accent.

“I’m so glad I found you,” she continued.  “You see, my boss is in the hospital.  A few days ago, she asked me to buy her a new mattress for her home, so I went to Ortho-mattress, and they ended up ripping me off on the price, not promising what they said, and then charging me too much for shipping.  The mattress cost hundreds of dollars more than she allocated and now I don’t know what to do.  I haven’t told her yet — and I’m afraid of getting fired.  So, I googled mattress rip-offs in Los Angeles and found your blog, and I ‘m hoping that you can give me some advice!”

Advice on mattress rip-offs?!  So you won’t get fired?  This is what the email was all about?!   You mean, Dr. Phil didn’t want me ON the show?!

I had this tight feeling in my stomach.  I remember the first time I felt it.   During grad school, I went out with this cute girl, thinking she wanted to take off my clothes, but all she wanted was to “pick my brain” to learn how she and her boyfriend could find a agent for some sci-fi screenplay they wrote together about a war with some crazed robots.

Luckily, Emily was quite nice, despite her reason for calling me.  We talked for fifteen minutes.  Well, mostly she talked.  She just moved to a new apartment and she couldn’t get fired because she has all these debts, and it wasn’t fair that she got ripped off by the mattress store, and now she has to face the producer, and she is very very nervous…etc.  We chatted like old friends, which was odd considering that she just found my blog on a Google search.  But maybe Dr. Phil only hires very friendly staff members.

I told Emily that mattress stores are the last refuge of sleazy salesmen.  For instance, when you buy a car nowadays, you usually know how much the sticker price is from looking it up on the internet.  Sealy and Serta intentionally name the same mattresses different names depending on the store, so it is difficult for the consumer to do a price check.  I advised Emily to call the Better Business Bureau, the store’s corporate office, and lastly, to contest the charges with her credit card. 

After I hung up the phone, it occurred to me that I actually WAS helpful.  Google DID bring her to the right person to speak to about mattresses.  The internet worked.

Dr. Phil, I’m ready for my close-up!

From the archives:  An even earlier mattress store story.


  1. Chag

    Dude! This makes you a superhero or something.

  2. MammaLoves

    See! You ARE the Citizen of the Month.

  3. Kristabella

    Dude, this is a blessing in disguise. You don’t want to be on Dr. Phil’s show.

  4. Not Fainthearted

    This proves why your blog has built a community of great people: because you help when you can.

    Such a mensch.

  5. Greg

    I sincerely doubt that the real Dr. Phil audience members could even SPELL “Neilochka.”

  6. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    That is weird. Weird weird weird.

    I got a marketing spam weird email the other day where the person had clearly read my “About” page but nothing else, and it was like a Mad Libs pitch.

  7. whit

    That reminds me. I need a new mattress. There, now you’ve helped two people.

    Pay it forward.

  8. Kerri Anne

    I was once emailed by an author who clearly googled himself, after I wrote something on my site about the danger of choosing books based on their simplistically designed book-covers. Unfortunately, he didn’t want me to be on his show either. Not that he had a show. Or a book I even wanted to read. But, I digress.

    I’m totally going to call you when I buy a new mattress.

  9. better safe than sorry

    good karma, i say wait it out for oprah.

  10. Assertagirl

    Hey, you never know where this could lead…now she’s seen your blog and talked to you on the phone, and she might need to call in another favour some day…ON THE AIR.

  11. nancypearlwannabe

    Well, you are very nice to help her out, even if she was using Dr. Phil to get a foot in the Neilochka door.

  12. bookfraud

    neil kramer…blogger extraordinare…consumer advocate bar none…always willing to help a desperate person needing mattress advice…

    can you help me on a new vacuum cleaner?

  13. Neil

    Bookfraud — the Dyson is excellent.

  14. AnnieH

    I think perhaps I should have read COMPLETELY through to the end of your post BEFORE I cleared my schedule for the month of April at 3:00pm/2:00pm Eastern time to watch you and Uncle Phil. Always a lesson to be learned here:-)

  15. Heidi

    Take MY bra off, Neilochka!

    (Does that help?)

  16. abigail road

    If you find me a new mattress that doesn’t kill my back, I’d gladly let you take my bra off.

  17. Memarie Lane

    Whenever I go shopping people always ask me where to find something, which is the best deal, etc. I think I’ll start wearing a nametag and carrying a tin cup for donations. It’s like blogging IRL!

  18. Pants

    Next time I’m feeling lonely I’m going to google to my heart’s content and send lots of emails to strangers. Or drink in my closet…

  19. brettdl

    I was waiting for the punchline and I still laughed!

  20. Annie

    I think that was a blessing Neil. I don’t like Dr. Phil :-). And you can take my bra off too :-).

  21. lfar

    The internet ALWAYS works!

  22. Karl

    You’re always welcome to have my bra, dude. You know that. And if you get on Dr. Phil I may actually have to watch the show.

  23. churlita

    You are quite the good boy scout. Dr Phil would be stupid not to put you on his show.

  24. melanie

    always a bridesmaid… :sighs:

    you are so kind. which makes you even sexier, and you know it. :huggles:

  25. Ginormous Boobs

    See, the internets is not just for LOLCats anymore!

  26. fringes

    You’ve helped two more people with your mattress knowledge! I did not know about the different names of the mattresses in each store. That explains why we couldn’t find the one we liked at Store One when we went to Store Two for comparison shopping. And the practice of leading customers to the $2100 mattress, then making them feel guilty for asking for one more reasonably priced? Like we hide guns under our kids’ beds or something. That’s the look we got at three different places. Gold star for you.

  27. Atomic Bombshell

    When I think of mattresses, I think of Neil, too… But not YOU, Neilochka. They have these crazy commercials for “Neil with the Deal” for Leeds Mattress Super Store.

    Check it out:

  28. Heather B.

    I spent all weekend saying how much I LOOOOOVE the internet. Even while sober! I really, really do. It always has the answers. I’m a fan.

  29. kendra!

    We can all sleep easier, forgive a pun, knowing how well the internet works.

  30. Theresa B.

    This works for me in so many ways.

  31. Noelle

    I love that it had a happy ending! What a roller coaster ride of emotions you must have been riding. I was contacted by a television station once because I wrote that I hated “Eat, Pray, Love” in a comment on another person’s blog. Evidently I’m the only woman to ever have that opinion, and they wanted to talk to me. I declined, since being in the good graces of publishers is key to my livelihood.

  32. Alexandra

    Hey Neil! I have so many of your posts to catch up on I don’t know how I am going to do it! My parents need a new mattress. I think I will hire you as a consultant and have you go with them. !

  33. anilia

    that is freaking funny… thanks for the giggles.

  34. 180/360

    Don’t even get me started on mattresses. I spent the last year fighting with a manufacturer for a defective mattress. It was an utter nightmare!!!! They are SCUM.

    Glad you were able to help her out. Maybe I should’ve called you to sort out the mess.

  35. V-Grrrl

    Neil, you should have offered to go mattress shopping WITH HER. Dude, she wants you.

  36. Gossip Girl Online

    I usually don’t post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. Thank you!

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