Well this may not be the most exciting or uplifting post I hope to have, but some of you may find it helpful.
I learned quite a bit about the construction and marketing of mattresses last year. First I started with the electronic sleep evaluator which is supposed to evaluate your pressure points or something to determine the firmness of mattress best for your body. Everything I know about the variance in sleeping comfort for each individual suggests that this concept is Bogus! What physical condition can relate a person’s softness/firmness preference to their body shape, size, proportion, etc.? The computer has a 25% chance of guessing correctly, but was wrong in my particular case.
So onto actually deciding on a mattress. I gather that all the big name brands equally have products with the latest technology. Coil count, wire thickness, and wrapped coils seem pretty standard, as does side support, and foam toppings. BEWARE: memory foams will hold more heat, so you feel warmer sleeping on those mattress. Some mattress claim to have a layer below the foam to release the heat, but thinking about having the sheets on the bed makes me wonder how that layer actually works. One rep showed us a cut sample with the coils connected at the top and described the benefits of that option, but at another store we were informed about the benefits of not having the coils connected.
Comparison Shopping … ?
When you visit a specialty mattress store, they often advertise some sort of price match guarantee where if you were to find your exact mattress at another store for a lesser price, they will reimburse some X percent. However, when you comparison shop at different stores, it turns out that each manufacturer changes the names of their mattresses for each chain of stores. For example, if you find a Serta mattress at Sleepy’s called Dreamer, you cannot find a Serta mattress called Dreamer at other mattress retailers. Because it does not have the same name in different stores, it is impossible for you to prove (to the satisfaction of the retailer) the conditions required to meet the pricing guarantee. Which also means you cannot comparison shop between stores… wrong.
I would ask each retailer for the components of the mattress I was interested in (be wary because I don’t think many sales people actually know this information). Sometimes they had a cut sample at the store that shows the materials in that particular mattress. When you have the details on the coil numbers, coil thickness, coil attachment, how many different types of foam layers and the thicknesses, the side support materials, then you can do some comparison shopping for similar products with other retailers. I suggest sharing this information with the salesperson (it’s likely you know more technical information than they do at this point) and walk away once or twice in order to negotiate the lowest price. At a minimum, they will have the impression that you cannot easily be fooled. Even different Sleepy’s stores in my area negotiated down to varying prices on a particular mattress, so they expect to negotiate price with you as a tactic for making you feel comfortable with the final purchase price.
The same location with the electronic evaluation of my firmness preference, also had an article (simulating a journal article) promoting the awards won by the most expensive mattress brand carried at the store. I have no idea what the source of the information was, or which country it originates from. Everything about the article suggested a scheme to deceive customers.
No matter how much I complained during the negotiation process the retailer could not provide a copy of the warranty for the mattress I was interested in. I suggest contacting the manufacturer directly for that information in advance of the purchase, and read every line.
I don’t have any personal experience with making a claim on a mattress warranty, but I read a few stories that concern me. First, in order for the warranty to be effective, they add a clause that you must keep the mattress is a WATERPROOF cover from day one. If there is any little stain or dirt, the representative may tell you that defects in your mattress are no longer warrantied. I don’t know how a little stain or spec on the mattress can eliminate the manufacturer’s responsibility for any failures in the product; especially since if they have to take back the product they cannot resell that mattress. This may not happen often, but I read a few accounts of this type of situation.
My conclusion is that I am not able to walk into a store, try out a mattress for 10 min or an hour and know if it will meet my expectations, or the performance suggested by the retailer. Mattresses with memory foam in the topping create warmer sleeping environments because they retain heat. All topping pads built into the mattress will break down over time and create lumps. The only trustworthy information is a recommendation from a friend who has had a mattress for a long time, or personal experience to know the durability of the mattress. So far I have heard and had good experienced with Sealy Posturpedic.
More detailed information and recommendations for purchasing a mattress can be found at:
Also, the US government does provide useful information on the Federal Trade Commission website including details about states that allow resale of mattress products: