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Are Mattress Companies Misleading Consumers?

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Mattress Manufacturers Misleading Consumers

Have you been confused and frustrated when shopping for a mattress?  You are not alone.  Many consumers find shopping for a mattress an experience that keeps them up at night.  Mattress Advisor reviews a tremendous amount of consumer comments and ratings and over the past several years has found that buyers are simply lost when it comes to finding the right mattress at a respectable price.

Other Industries Don't Act Like This
But why is this the case?  Other industries don’t seem to cause this level of consumer grief.  It turns out that the mattress market has been purposely setup by manufacturers and retailers to mislead and confuse consumers.  They make a tidy profit while the buyer gets the short end of the stick.  Following are three tricks the industry uses to confuse the buyer.

 

1) You Can't Comparison Shop
How do they do it?  There are several ways in which this occurs but the most nefarious involves making comparison shopping almost impossible.  Comparison shopping is something most of us do when trying to find a bargain.  We find the brand and model we like then we start looking around for the right price.  When shopping for a mattress however one will find that the model found in one store doesn’t seem to appear in any others.  There may be something that sounds close but it is not quite the same.  How then are you to compare prices from one retailer to another?  The short answer is you can’t.  And guess what?  This was done on purpose.  You can’t compare apples and oranges so you stop trying.

Also, industry insiders indicate that there are widely varying prices for the same or similar mattresses.  So one outlet may offer the brandx plush lavender memory foam mattress for $1200 while another store offers the brandx plush supreme manila memory foam mattress for $800, and these mattresses could be identical or could have very minor differences.  But how are you to know?

2) Baffling Long Names
Additionally, mattress naming conventions are made so complex that it is almost impossible to remember model names.  Consider the following: “Sealy Posturepedic Lazy Hollow Luxury Plush Super Box Top Mattress”, or “Sears-O-Pedic 61696 King Cloud Elite Plush Eurotop II LP California Box Spring Mattress – White”.  Without a pen and paper you are not going to remember names like these and even if you do you will find that a word or two will change from retailer to retailer.

3) Sales Tricks
The industry is also notorious for high pressure sales tactics as well as continual bogus sales.   Some mattress stores have almost perpetual sales and practice something called high-low pricing whereby the prices are inflated for a short period of time, then they offer the mattress “on sale” for much less.  These “sale” prices last for a very long time.  Also, the consumer may be led to believe (by pushy sales folk) that this is a very short term sale and that they need to jump at this opportunity immediately or they will lose the ability to purchase at the “sale” price.  

 

Even Consumer Reports Struggles
Frankly it is hard to believe that the industry has been able to get away with this for so long.  In testament to the difficulty this poses for the average buyer one only has to look for mattress ratings by Consumer Reports magazine. It is difficult to find mattress ratings for individual models.  Consumer Reports indicate on their site that mattresses are difficult to distinguish from one another since “many manufacturers sell the same models under different names”.  They also indicate on their site that they receive more inquiries about mattresses than almost any other product. 

What Can You Do?
How then does one make a good mattress buying decision?  It is not easy.  You clearly cannot shop by model name.  One method is to determine what set of features you want your mattress to have then comparison shop by those.  You may have a brand you like so you can also stick to that.  Also, remember to actually try the mattress out in the store and lay on it for as long as you think is necessary – if it requires 20 minutes then take 20 minutes.  A mattress is often a significant investment and you will spend a large part of the next few years on your mattress so take the time to make the right choice.

Consider mattress comfort, support, size and warranty.  A mattress must be comfortable in order for you to sleep well, but be cautious not to get something too “cushy” as a mattress should also provide support.  Many people enjoy a very soft mattress when they first lay on it but over time if a mattress is too soft it will cause problems.  Proper support will alleviate pressure on joints, help keep the spine in the correct posture, and ensure you don’t wake up with aches and pains.  Comfort and support are often a function of the individual so try the mattress out and (again) take your time.  Also, do not let the salesperson upsell you to a more expensive mattress or push you to make a quick decision. 

Finally, get a mattress that is large enough for you – choose a size that allows you to turn and stretch while you are sleeping (or trying to get to sleep).  And find something with a respectable warranty.  The longer the better and a non-prorated warranty is better than a pro-rated one.  In addition, read mattress reviews and comments by consumers for the brand you are considering (as indicated it can be hard to find comments for exactly the same model – but you may get lucky).  These will give you insights into the mattress far beyond what the manufacturer or retailer will tell you.

Following is an interesting video below where NBC investigates some of the problems highlighted above:

Are you frustrated with the mattress industry as well?  Let us know.
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