What Everybody Ought to Know About Buying A New Mattress
On Wednesday, I shared a story about shopping for mattresses with Mini and Mr. Right-Click. Several readers weighed in with comments and questions about mattress shopping, and it occurred to me that perhaps a post compiling what I’ve learned about shopping for mattresses would be useful. I think buying a new mattress is pretty comparable to the shopping process of buying a new car (or a computer): there is typically a large amount of money involved, as well as lack of specialized knowledge about the product. Mattress shopping, as well as car and computer shopping, require us to take a leap of faith that what we are purchasing will work out for us and will be worth the money. We take leaps of faith with our consumerism all the time, but since most products that we buy regularly don’t cost as much as a mattress, this is not so scary a prospect.
The most important thing I have learned about buying mattresses is this: no matter what mattress you get, it is probably going to be dramatically better than what you already have. If you’re at the point where you really need a new mattress, then you are likely sleeping on a mattress that has been broken down and does not offer enough support anymore. No matter what mattress you choose, it’s going to be better than one that is old and broken down. So keep that in mind as you try to determine which one to buy. Even if you don’t want to go top-of-the-line or even middle-of-the-road, you’re probably getting an upgrade, so there’s no reason to fret.
Pillow-top versus firm? There’s no reason to have to make this choice. A mattress can still be firm in its foundation and have a pillow-top. This was a point of contention for Mr. Right-Click and myself because he wants a firm mattress and I want soft–but what we discovered is that they do put pillow-tops on firm bases these days, you just have to confirm this with your mattress salesperson. Ultimately, I would prefer a totally soft mattress, but we were able to find a mattress that is just the right mixture of soft and firm to meet both of our needs, so it is possible.
Individual coils versus–who in the what now? I’m not sure which brand it was that originally made a big deal about individually wrapped coils versus what, group-wrapped? Sealy maybe? Anyway, bottom line is that there’s no real standard for this kind of stuff, though people tend to believe that more and thicker coils mean fuller and better support. Having said that, some mattresses have more coils but they use thinner-gauge wire, so the coils are of less quality. So ultimately, these kinds of distinctions appear to be meaningless. The bottom line is that there’s no real regulation to this industry, it’s a free-for-all, so when somebody starts talking your ear off about the coils and stuff, just pretend that all they’re saying is “la la la la la la” and focus on how the bed feels when you’re testing it out.
As is the case with car-buying, the listed price is just a suggestion. Don’t offer to pay whatever they have listed as the price for the mattress, because they aren’t expecting you to, and if you do offer it, they will take it immediately. Mattress salespeople are like used car salesmen–in some cases, they’ve worked both places–so you need to haggle. Haggling is uncomfortable for many people, but this is just one of those times you have to do it. This guide to haggling will help. What also helps with the haggling process is if you go in armed with product information. You need to make several trips to the mattress store, and do research online in between, so that you know what the mattress is going for elsewhere. And here’s a heads-up about slimy mattress-selling techniques: sometimes mattress manufacturers will re-label mattresses with different brand names for different resellers to discourage price comparisons. There’s no surefire manner in which to combat this little piece of retail dishonesty, but if you know this ahead of time, perhaps it will color your perception of the industry as a whole and how set-in-stone its advertised pricing is likely to be.
Beware of upselling. The salesperson at the mattress store tried to use the unfortunate incident with Mini as a means of upselling us on a mattress protector. Luckily, I wasn’t buying: for one thing, you can always buy a mattress protector later and shop around for the best price. For another, MyGym kid ink stains are not going to render my mattress unusable, they’re just going to make it less pretty. And I can deal with that, personally, even if the crabby manager at Sit and Sleep could not. Similarly, the mattress showroom is not the place to buy pillows, sheets, or any of that–they won’t be the best quality, and they won’t be the best price. Just get what you came for and get out.
Ask about delivery charges, old mattress removal charges, etc. up front. One way they get you at these places is to agree to a price, and then tell you that it will cost X amount of dollars to deliver to your house, and X+50 to remove your old mattress, so by the time you’re done, and you’ve added on taxes, you’re paying twice as much as you thought you had agreed to. Your options are to eliminate the need for them to remove the old mattress by arranging with your trash company to pick up your old mattress–this might involve an extra charge, but it’s probably going to be less than what the mattress people will charge you. And of course, if you have access to a large truck, you can try delivering the mattress yourself. Otherwise, just bear in mind that these charges will be added on top, so the number being quoted is not likely to be the whole amount you will have to pay.
Good luck, and sleep well