Mattress Tricks of the Trade (and How to Avoid Them)
The mattress industry is notorious for sleazy salesmen, false incentives and general trickery to pressure customers into quickly making a purchase (often while thinking they are receiving the deal of the lifetime). While traditional big-box mattress salesmen can be credited for much of this nefarious behavior, online companies are beginning to employ a few of their own tricks as more and more consumers turn to the internet when buying a new bed.
Whether you are buying a mattress online or off, we’ve put together a list of common (and deceptive) practices that you can look out for to ensure you aren’t getting taken advantage of.
Let me talk to my manager…
Mattress salesmen are often compared to auto dealers for practicing some of the same tactics to sell beds that you would find one a used car lot. Anyone who has been in the market for a new car has likely encountered a salesperson that needs to pause the conversation and consult with his or her manager in a back room; later to re-emerge with special authorization to provide a deep, one-time-only discount.
According to Consumer Reports, mattress manufacturers set a minimum price “below which stores are not permitted to advertise or sell” their products. This means that if all of the sudden the price for your bed miraculously drops, or you’re being told that you’ve been gifted a special deal just because the salesperson thinks you’re a cool dude -- odds are you’re being played for a chump.
Compared to brick-and-mortar companies, where back-room negotiations make it difficult to understand exactly how much your mattress is worth, online companies are shifting mattress buying to a single-price model, which is free of flash sales and haggling. This is why many online shoppers are incentivized by the peace of mind that a mattress is being offered at its best price – regardless of when the purchase is being made.
Same mattress, different name.
While shopping for mattresses it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the deluge of different products and options (sometimes coming from the same manufacturer). According to Lifehacker, mattress companies often “rename identical products for each different retail store”. Meaning the exact same mattress, but with a different label -- and most likely a different price tag.
The reason behind this is simple: “Obfuscation. It’s hard to shop for the lowest price when you can’t compare apples to apples”.
Mattress companies may never be willing to publically reveal their minimum selling price, or which beds are identical to those with different names,so Lifehacker advises consumers to look for buying options that provide a solid return policy. Options like Somzi’s 100-night guarantee give shoppers peace-of-mind that if they aren’t completely satisfied with their purchase, they can return the bed and keep shopping.
Turning air into money
Anyone who has conducted thorough research on different mattress options has seen countless diagrams that identify the different layers of material within a mattress. While these images look markedly similar to those of other brands, all of these pictures are filled with varying names and labels -- usually cooked up by marketing companies, to describe the different layers
Shoppers should pay special attention to these diagrams, and be wary of flashy names without any detail to support what makes these materials special or beneficial to consumers.
Transition foam (also referred to as poly-foam) and egg-crate foam are just two examples of materials that are commonly seen, but don’t offer substantial value. Egg-crate foam is actually a single layer of foam that has been sliced in two, creating ridges to provide a wave-like texture. When added to a mattress, it’s nothing more than good marketing, and an opportunity to charge extra for only half of the material.
Likewise, transition foam is a layer that simply adds thickness to a mattress, without any support or comfort qualities -- like the contouring effect of memory foam. While these layers can help mattresses fill out to a desired size or shape, buyers should be hesitant when these layers are passed off as anything more than filler.
Buying a new mattress requires sifting through a lot of promises and promotions that often can’t be vetted solely through publically available information. If you’re conducting research, and still don’t feel like you’re getting the answer that you need, then don’t be afraid to ask the company directly. If you ask, and still feel like you’re getting the run around, then it’s a good sign to avoid a particular product or company.
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