Mattress Stores are Ripping You Off: Here’s What You Can Do About It
Dear Rich Lifer,
If you thought buying a car was a nightmare, try buying a new mattress.
The mattress industry is plagued with seedy salespeople and companies trying to squeeze out every penny they can from you without much care for whether you find a bed that suits you best.
Some of the tactics we uncovered researching today’s issue are downright disgusting.
For instance, there’s an estimated 175 new bed-in-a-box mattress brands that have popped up in the last 5 years.
These direct-to-consumer brands are fighting tooth and nail for eyeballs on their websites and willing to go to great lengths to show up first in your search results on Google.
One tactic they’re using to bump up their search ranking is financially funding “third-party” review sites to rate and recommend their products.
Fake review sites
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard of brands paying for fake reviews. But we’re not talking about one or two reviews on Amazon here.
Mattress companies regularly acquire and fund third-party mattress review sites to intentionally lead consumers down a path to their products.
For instance, Sleepopolis.com was bought by Mattress Clarity (another review site) who received financing from Casper – the number one bed-in-a-box company.
Then there’s MattressAdvisor.com, who received funding and is partly owned by Leesa – another top bed-in-a-box brand.
MattressNerd.com changed owners and is now affiliated with MattressAdvisor…the list goes on.
The point being you can’t place all your trust in so-called third-party review sites when you’re researching a new mattress.
Other sneaky tricks include…
Simmons Beautyrest is one of the most popular lines of mattresses. But depending on where you shop, you’ll hear different brand names for the same mattress.
For example, the “Beautyrest Recharge Allie” at Macy’s is called the “Beautyrest Recharge Devonwood Luxury” at Sears, the “Recharge Signature Select Hartfield” at Mattress Firm, and the “Beautyrest Recharge Lyric Luxury” at US-Mattress.com.
If you didn’t know these were all the same mattress, you might not think to ask for a price-match guarantee.
Mattress manufacturers do this intentionally so that multiple retailers can compete with one another. It’s win-win for the retailers and manufacturers but a loss for the unaware consumer.
What you can do about it:
Learn what specifications matter most to the quality and longevity of a new mattress and compare mattresses based on these specs. Here’s what you should pay attention to:
- Innersprings: Coil type, coil count, padding type, foam layers (and quality), fabrics/ticking
- Memory Foam: Memory foam type, memory foam density, memory foam thickness, core foam density, cover fabric, any padding/extra layers
- Latex: Latex contents, latex type, thickness of all layers, ILD of layers, cover fabric, any padding/extra layers
We’ve all seen the TV commercials advertising 50-75 percent off savings for one day only.
These too-good-to-be-true deals are commonplace in the mattress industry.
The reason being that mattress stores will inflate their regular sticker prices to make it seem like you’re getting a better deal than you are.
Consumer Reports found several inconsistencies when comparing a Serta mattress with manufacturer-set minimum pricing (meaning no retailer can sell below a set figure).
While all retailers had the same sale price, some stated their regular price was over twice as high to create the perception of a good deal.
What you can do about it:
Ignore the regular price and only look at the sale price. That’s where your negotiations should start. And if you find a retailer online advertising a lower price, ask for a price match.
Fancy sounding materials
Some mattress companies intentionally limit the amount of product information they publish online to make comparison shopping hard.
Luxury brands especially make it difficult to know exactly the quality of materials that were used in their mattresses. For example, memory foam is now commonly found in many high-end mattresses.
But the density of the memory foam and its base layers are important factors to consider before buying. A lot of luxury brands will intentionally hide what these materials are made of since most are made from the same materials whether they’re “luxury” or not.
Sometimes they’ll even try to give their mattress proprietary features with loosely-backed claims to support the benefits.
Recently, several mattress brands were targeted by the Federal Trade Commission after making unsubstantiated VOC/toxin-free claims.
What you can do about it:
Do your own research and don’t rely on retailer comparison charts. Question the names of fancy-sounding materials and their benefits.
Also reach out directly to manufacturers to see if they will provide more information than what is published on their website.
Read all the fine print
Mattress stores and manufacturers will use warranties and return policies to sway you to buy their product.
But be careful because not all warranties and return policies are created equal. Plus a lot of salespeople are not as well-informed as you might imagine when it comes to the details of a mattress manufacturer’s warranty policies.
It’s best to read all the fine print yourself. Here’s a quick checklist to pay close attention to when you read through the policies.
For warranties ask:
- What’s included?
- What does the policy cover and for how long?
- Most policies cover sagging, how much sagging? (½ inch or over 2 inches?)
- Is the warranty “full-coverage” or “prorated”?
- If it’s prorated, how much do you have to pay during the prorated period?
- What’s excluded?
- Foam compression
- Floor models
- Beds not adequately supported
- What’s required?
- Are there specific requirements to receive full coverage?
For returns ask:
- Can I exchange or return this mattress?
- How many days?
- What is the criteria for an eligible return?
- Is there a wait period?
- Some retailers make you wait 60 days before you can return a mattress
- Are there any hidden fees?
- You’d be surprised what salespeople will tell you, it never hurts to ask
Buying a new mattress is a lot like buying a car. There’s haggling, price inflation, shady reviews and unscrupulous characters you have to deal with. But don’t let these bad apples discourage you from finding the perfect mattress. Do your research and test-test-test before you buy.
To a richer life,
The Rich Life Roadmap Team