Mattress Shopping and Deceptive Marketing Practices

by Annie on July 6, 2010 · 5 comments

in Healthy Living

This weekend my husband and I went mattress shopping.  Our old mattress is getting lumpy and I think a new mattress will help me sleep better.  But mattress shopping is so confusing.  Unlike other consumer goods, you cannot comparison shop based on the brand, model, and specifications at different stores when shopping for a mattress.  The following is a list of deceptive marketing practices in the mattress industry that makes mattress shopping a hassle.

Different stores, same brand, but different names

The first thing I notice when mattress shopping is that different stores will carry the same brand but under different names.  You know how most furniture and department stores advertise that it will beat its competitors’ mattress prices?  Well, it is hard to get a price match when the stores have different names for the same mattress!

Mattress shopping by specifications is non-existent

So if the stores name the same products differently, how can you compare the two?  I figured I can compare the manufacturer’s specification.

All the research my husband did online indicates that the gauge of the coils inside the mattress is important.  We are looking for a firm mattress.  Since my car accident, my back cannot seem to tolerate any kind of sagging or plushy softness.  I sleep better on my yoga mat on top of the carpet than the plushy cushions on the sofa.

But guess what?  Most of the spec sheets at the stores only have a few bullet points on the features of the mattress.  There is no detail on the gauge of the coils, thickness of the foam layers, a description of the various foam layers, etc.  None!

So how can the average consumer tell the difference between two mattress when both of them list “designed to cushion every part of your body while drastically reducing the pressure points that can cause tossing and turning” as bullet item?  You can’t.

Different stores recommend different mattress brands

Mattresses are like cars.  You only shop for them once every few years.  Mattresses are not my area of expertise, but I figured if different sales people recommend the same brand than we can start our mattress shopping there.  Once again, you go to different stores they all recommend a different brand.

One store recommends Serta for the metal frame around their coils, while another store recommends Sealy for the density of their coils.  There is no collective knowledge that can point me to in the right direction!  It also makes me wonder if certain stores push a particular brand because they get a larger profit margin.

So what did I end up doing?

While my husband was talking to the sales person, I am on their showroom, lying on the mattress, flipping around (I have a tendency to sleep on my back, side, and stomach.  I move around a lot when I am sleeping).  After trying out several brands, I prefer the firm mattress without any of the pillow top or plush layer.  Like my husband said, it is easier to make the mattress softer than to make it firmer after we get it home.

We ended up purchasing a Sealy firm mattress (no pillow top or plush layer) online, free shipping and box spring, no taxes, and saving 60% the cost of retail.  I am keeping my fingers crosses that we will not regret this purchase.  But so far, other than clothing, I have been pretty satisfied with our all online purchases.  I’ll keep you posted when the new mattress arrives if I get a better night of sleep.

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.

Photo by:  oksidor.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Emergefit July 8, 2010 at 6:06 am

I was a floor sleeper for 20 years. Only recently went back to a mattress — new wife kind of insisted on it. She owns a bed she paid nearly 3K for. I miss the floor, but perhaps I will adapt in time. Good luck with the new mattress>


asithi July 8, 2010 at 6:30 am

Did you have any kind of padding for floor sleeping? Are you used to sleeping on a bed again? Do you wake up sore? I’ve relatives that are floor sleepers and even the firmest mattress is too soft for them. Good luck with sleeping on a bed again. And thanks for the comment.


Dr. J July 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

You have me really frightened when I have to get another one :-)

Actually I use a water bed with individual small cylinders and you can adjust the firmness by adding or subtracting water. I believe water gives the best support.


Diane Fit to the Finish July 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm

We bought a new mattress last year and it was very unscientific. We found a great deal on one where an outlet store was going out of business. It’s probably not the best one, but we love it! I hope you enjoy your new mattress!


asithi July 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

@Dr J – I didn’t even know they make water bed anymore. My friends has a sleep number bed that she absolutely adores, but my husband is worry about getting an air mattress because of the potential for popping a seam. We had to replace our camping air mattress at least every other year so I can see why he is wary about spending $3000 on a sleep number. You got to let me know how your shopping for a new water bed turns out. Thanks for the comment.

@Diane – that is what we did with this last mattress. It only lasted 7 years. Everyone keeps telling me that a mattress is suppose to last 15 years. I am also hoping this one will be a keeper. Thanks for the comment.


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