How the Mattress Industry Is Ripping You Off

Usually, when you go to a store like Walmart or Best Buy, you pay for the goods exactly as much as is indicated on the price tag. Occasionally, stores can put some products on a sale or give you personal discount coupons. But you can’t get a discount from the cashier at checkout, can you?  Not every industry works like that, though. And if we talk about the mattress industry, some of its features turn the entire market into one big bed of lies. To protect yourself from gimmicks aimed at making you buy goods of questionable quality, you need to know how the mattress industry is trying to rip you off. And that’s what I’m about to show you.

Fancy Names Aren’t Equal to Good Sleep

It seems that the most appropriate option for shopping is to go through several stores, compare the range of products, and choose the model with the best price-performance ratio. Quite reasonable, especially given the fact that one spends a third of their life on a mattress, so it’s quite an important investment. But here are the bad news:

Mattress industry hates comparison shopping

And in order to make the choice much harder for their customers, mattress stores have come up with a rather tricky move: They give the same models different names depending on the store where those are sold. You don’t need to go far for an example. The popular Simmons company used to sell its Beautyrest Recharge mattress, depending on the retailer, under such names as:

  • Beautyrest Recharge Allie;
  • Beautyrest Recharge Signature Select Hartfield;
  • Beautyrest Recharge Lyric Luxury;
  • Beautyrest Recharge Devonwood Luxury.

All of these were the same model. Today, the Simmons company has a new lineup of mattresses, but who knows what tricks they are using now. If you are considering more than one model, it’s almost impossible to memorize all the details in order to compare the products. Fortunately, with the power of the Web, you can solve this problem easily.Just make some preparations before going to the store:  Find the brands you are interested in, get familiar with the specifications of their mattresses, save information about the models you liked in the notes on your phone, and head to the store. Once you know the specs, you will be able to identify whether it’s the model you wanted or not even if it has a different name.

Do Not Trust the Price Tags

The next attempt to trick the hapless mattress buyer uses price tags. Remember: Whenever you are in a mattress store, some items will always be on sale. And the discounts will also be very tempting — 50, 60%, and even more. So, there you are handling a thousand and a half bucks to a salesperson and sincerely believing you have bought a $3,000 mattress.

But wait. Don’t you smell a rat? The $1,500 price tag is, in fact, the regular market price of that mattress, while that “discount” is just a trick. And I bet you can throw off a hundred or two bucks more if you try. Are you surprised?

Well, buyers come for a new mattress on average once every 10 years, and they mostly have little understanding about what has changed in pricing during this time. Therefore, it’s quite easy for salesmen to impress them with limited offers and crazy discounts. If you don’t want to be deluded, again — make some preparations. Check out the possible price range of a particular model that you are going to buy on the Web. Thus, you will have an idea of how this store winds up the price and will be able to bargain more effectively.

The Mystery Hidden Inside the Mattress

Another point that complicates the shopping process is that manufacturers don’t hurry to share the information about the materials inside their products. Instead, product descriptions and commercials are full of statements about innovative materials, advanced technologies, and organic fabrics used in a mattress. And contain little to no specifics. As a matter of fact, a mattress consists of a few essential elements used in various combinations, e.g. coils, foam, latex, etc. Some brands do try to introduce improvements, such as a cooling gel in memory foam or punctured layer designs for better airflow. But other manufacturers just take a regular feature or component that is common for all similar mattresses and advertise it as something unique.

There is a psychological reason behind that.

Typically, buyers are much more inclined to make a choice based on external characteristics of a mattress, which are so generously provided by its manufacturer, rather than on an in-depth analysis of the real components and their possible performance. Also, do not forget about the tendency of some materials to wear out. For example, you can test a memory foam mattress at the store and find its level of firmness to be perfectly suitable for you. You pay for it and have it delivered to your home. But having it installed, you realize it is firmer than it was at the store. What happened?

The magic is simple:

It’s just that you were not the first one to lie on that particular mattress demonstrated in the showroom. If it’s made of cheaper memory foam, chances are it wears out and starts feeling softer after so many people test it every day at the store. But the original feel, the one that you get with your freshly delivered mattress, might be firmer and hence not that suitable for you. The point here is: Don’t take what manufacturers and salespeople are trying to sell you at face value.

Check out online reviews of the mattresses you are interested in. It makes sense to consider both professional mattress reviews and regular customer feedback. The former may have more details about real components inside a mattress, while the latter may give you an idea of how firm a mattress feels, how quickly it sags, whether it makes you sweat at night, etc.

“Pay special attention to reviewers who have problems with sleep that are similar to yours, as even a high-quality mattress might perform poorly if it isn’t suitable for you and your issues.”

The Return Policy Paradox

Now, you surely understand that a 15-minute test drive at the store cannot be compared to a full night’s sleep on a mattress. The bed that seemed to be an ideal sleeping place may not meet the expectations eventually. In that case, you must go through the return policy. And there might be some things you don’t know about this process. First, many people believe that being able to return a mattress after a trial period declared by a manufacturer or a retailer always means having their money back.

This is not always true

Especially if you’ve made a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store. Such retailers often charge restocking fees, which can be quite a sum. So, be prepared to lose up to a half of the funds that you’ve spent on the purchase. Second, at offline stores, it is rather difficult to find mattresses that come with a long trial. Their offers are often limited to a one-month refund period. But the thing is, people usually need time to adapt to their new mattress.

And guess what? This takes approximately one month. During this period you might feel not completely comfortable on a new bed, but this doesn’t mean the bed is not good for you. You just need to give it some time. “100-120 days is usually enough to understand if the mattress will work for you. However, some online mattress companies go beyond that and offer trials that are up to 365 days long.”

John Breese from happysleepyhead recommends buying mattresses directly from the factory websites. The trial conditions provided by the most popular brands that sell online are much more beneficial for you as a buyer than those offered by retail stores.

How to Protect Yourself from Mattress Scams?

  • In additional to the advice mentioned above:
  • Trust your common sense.
  • Don’t believe when they offer you half the price off.

And follow the tips below.

Know Your Needs

Make a choice primarily not because of a brand or discounts but based on your own comfort. If you came for a simple mattress with no bells and whistles, try to resist the temptation to buy a “more advanced” model because it’s on sale “only today and only for you”. Also, if you have any health problems, they should become the main criteria during your shopping.

Educate Yourself

Before you buy, learn everything that the market has to offer. Yes, it will take some time, but it will also save you from overspending and even from health issues that are possible with a low-quality bed.

Choose a Transparent Return Policy and Warranty

Do not hesitate to ask questions about returns, refunds, and warranty. Consider mattresses that have a trial period of at least 3 months. Experts recommend changing a mattress every 7-8 years. So, there’s no need to buy a more expensive mattress only because it is covered by a 20-year warranty (most likely, it has a pack of restrictions that will make a replacement or repair of the mattress almost impossible). And remember: Things like a brand or super-innovative materials will not matter when you fall asleep. What matters is how the materials perform personally for you.

Shop smart!


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