The Mattress Industry is One Big Scam

The last time I bought a mattress for myself was about 11 years ago. I bought a fairly new full-sized one off a coworker. Four moves and a decade later, we’ve decided it’s time to replace it with an adult (and sometimes an extra toddler)-sized bed.

Shopping Blind

When we started looking, I was shocked at the prices. $3000 for a mattress? What the heck are these things made of? Knowing very little, we went shopping for a mattress and other things on a Saturday morning. The first place, we stopped, Sleepy’s, seemed nice enough. We laid on a few and honed in on the one that we both felt most comfortable in. Meanwhile, Audrey discovered the fun of letting herself fall backwards onto mattresses and did it all over the store. She was giggling and the whole store couldn’t help but look and smile at her. Unfortunately, we soon stopped smiling.

When we found something we liked, the seemingly helpful salesman started to get more aggressive. He asked how much we were looking at paying and I made up a number on the spot, something way below the listed price on the bed. The said he would “talk with his manager” and see if he could get us that price. Then he started asking us if we could commit and have it delivered tomorrow. Anne had walked outside to give Audrey a break by that point, so I said I had to go out and talk with her about it. We talked about it for a bit, then decided we didn’t like the high-pressure sales pitch, so we got ready to leave.

I had the car started up when the salesman came out and approached the car window. He then said that he had “talked to his manager” and he could give us the price we wanted AND a free “platinum package”. I said we would talk about it and let him know. We again decided this was sketchy, but to make good on my promise, I went in and gave him my phone number and left.

Later that day we went to Jordan’s Furniture, generally known to be a reputable place with reasonable places. The salespeople there were nice and NOT high-pressure. Prices were generally lower, but strangely, we couldn’t find the mattress we found at Sleepy’s. They had Sertas, but not the one we liked.

Being indecisive, we left with a couple new names of ones we liked. Later, we went to Mattress Discounters. The woman there was not pushy and told us about the BBB complaints that Sleepy’s (a 700-store chain) had gotten. We decided to think some more and head home.

At home, I did some research online and I found something strange – I couldn’t find much of anything on the mattresses we saw that we liked. I found some mattresses, many of the same brand, but not the same models.

One Big Scam

I later came to find out that this was completely intentional. The mattress industry is one big scam. There is no way to make an objective decision on a mattress using actual facts.

Here’s a few things that the mattress industry does to get you:

1. They mark up their prices 100% to 200%!! No wonder the first guy was able to get his “manager” to give me such a steep discount. They were probably still going to make hundreds of dollars of profits on it.

2. They give the same mattresses different names in different stores or they set up exclusivity agreements by mattress line in certain stores. This makes it impossible to comparison shop because…

3. They make it really had to get actual facts about the mattresses. Stuff like coil counts, materials, overall construction are shrouded in secrecy. But that doesn’t really matter because…

4. There’s no objective measure of mattress quality. Consumer Reports won’t rate them because they can’t get the data and there’s no testing that actually says higher coil counts are better or the number of wires in the coils makes a difference in any way. You’re left to deciding how much you believe the marketing. Is a pillow top made of alpaca hair any better than one made of cotton? Your guess is as good as mine.

5. There’s very little online reviews of mattresses, probably because the model names are so fractured. The ones I did find looked more like content-free sites designed to attract referral credits.

Cracking the Code

With some more research, I found out that it was somewhat possible to compare mattresses models from different places. It turns out that they really only make one hardness variation in each line. So you can assume that a Plush Firm mattress in the “Classic” line, is the same as another Plush Firm in the Classic line, even if they have different names. was very helpful in figuring this out. We were able to understand which mattresses we saw and how they related to each other. For example, the mattress we liked at Jordan’s was a product line better than the one we saw at Mattress Discounters, even though they came out to the same price! Clearly Jordan’s had the better deal, but US-Mattress had an even better deal.

So I did something I never thought I could do, buy a mattress over the internet. I’m pretty sure it’s the same one we saw in the store and the free delivery and frame were a good deal. I’m sure that even if I’m getting it at half the price I saw it listed at elsewhere, they’re still making a decent profit on it.

Anne and I agree that buying a mattress is worse than buying a car. While both have sketchy salespeople, when you buy a car, you can compare them on MPG, size, features, etc. Multiple dealers have the same models so you can compare prices and make an informed decision based on their invoice prices. There’s none of that when buying a mattress.

Our mattress should arrive in a few weeks. Hopefully we’ll just find it comfortable enough to have to avoid going through buying a mattress again for at least another 11 years.

UPDATE: The mattress arrived quickly and in good condition. We’ve been sleeping on it for several nights and while it feels comfy, I’ve had some upper back soreness which seems to be related to the new mattress. I’m going to keep trying it for a few more weeks and see if my body adjusts as the website suggests. Hopefully it will go away. Otherwise, we’ll have to find another one and do a $100 exchange I guess.


  1. I am sorry for all the problems everyone is having with beds. Having put off getting a new bed for our son for as long as possible, it is nice not to be alone in this though! His bed is over 25 years old, (he basically went from the crib to a queen bed that had been for guests) and he is 19 now, 6’2″ and has mentioned more than once “how comfortable the dorm beds are” so my husband and I figured it is really time to get him a new bed. I started to look in to it a few years ago, and just gave up because of all the confusion, and the horror stories I was hearing from friends whose new beds were shot within a few months, deep valleys they have to “work” to get out of, and ridges between the valleys. I am very glad I found this site before even beginning to try and get him a bed, thanks everyone for posting here, I’m learning a great deal.

  2. I think a 10 year warranty is a little long for something you (and your wife perhaps) sleep on some 10 hours a day. I wouldn’t expect to pay more than 500 to 700 dollars for a mattress, I can’t remember what I paid last time.

    After 5 years, I think I got my money’s worth. Spend more and then perhaps the warranty should go up a bit. Depending on how old you are, that mattress might be getting quite a workout and I’m not just talking about sleeping.

    I do agree that moel numers should be standard so peole can compare with other sellers. Most everything else you buy has them and you can shop for the best price. Just my opinion.

  3. Just wanted to give a quick feed back on everyone complaining about prices and wanting things cheaper. Not saying that I don’t agree that things have gotten more expensive but its gotten more expensive for everyone. Retailers have to pay employees, mattress companies have to pay for product and manufacturing. I have a friend who works at a mattress store and he told me that some of the mattresses that they have there they as a company had to pay over $1000 at cost just to get them. I personally have laid of a $400 dollar mattress in the store and a $4000 mattress and there is a huge difference between them. Go to the sales people who know about beds and how they can help your needs not how much it cost. What did you pay for the car your drive, the living room table? None of those things will benefit your health the way a bed will. Get all the facts before you complain.

    • “Get all the facts before you complain.”

      That’s funny. One of the things the writer of this post is pointing out is that you CAN’T get all the facts, because the stores and manufacturers won’t give them to you. They won’t even tell you CRITICAL information in making an informed choice, like the foam density of the foam used in support layers, which to large extent determines it’s durability.

      Just the fact “pillow top” mattresses are sold at all means mattress retailers have no interest in selling good products. Pillow tops wear out in a few years, leaving you with a sagging mattress that needs replacement. If they had any integrity at all they would sell you mattress with durable support core without a pillow top, and have you buy a 3″ topper (memory foam, etc) that can be easily replaced when it wears out.

      I’m done with them, and encourage everybody to abandon these charlatans . There are plenty of small companies now that will sell you a quality mattress online at a very good price, and they tell you EXACTLY what materials they are using in their mattress. It’s not rocket science. Spend an hour or so on a site like Mattress Underground and you’ll be an informed consumer that won’t get taken again.

      • Would you buy your car with out test driving it. Just saying. Making sure you buy the right mattress for you and your bodies needs requires laying on it and testing it out. There are very reputable large stores that do the right things for your health and wellness and are not out just for the buck

        • Reputable large stores,,,,,WHERE?
          Just because you test drive a car doesn’t mean you will know the quality of it just like laying on a mattress will not let you know if it will sag in 6 months. Only knowing what is really inside will you have some idea as to the quality, durability and value of a mattress. I like what The Mattress Underground say about the top 5 mfg’s, AVOID them, and myself with 35+ years in the industry would have to agree.
          We offer a product to extend the life of your present mattress so you can sleep better and avoid having to deal with shopping for a mattress, giving you comfort to sleep and time to research the industry so when you do replace your mattress you will be able to get a better value.
          Environmentally the mattress is a nightmare to landfills with the cheap quality product they are producing. As one BIG retailer promotes, “if your mattress is 8 years old you need to replace it” well to that I say if you are buying the quality mattresses they are selling then they are probably right.

          • Mattresses are 100% recycled your just trying to get people to your website. Just know that the 5 – 8 years your mattress lasts you have to ask yourself is that cheap mattress as comfortable to you as a more expensive mattress. Could you imagine if ever restaurant sold the same food? How could they compete. If you want something with the same model name buy a Tempurpedic. There the same price everywhere too. This will save you gas money and time.

      • Okay, time for me to interject.

        This may come as a shock to you all, but whopper, I am part owner of a local mattress store! I have some information that will benefit EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU, in one way or another.

        Let me start with this:

        Now, here comes the part where the truth hurts a bit. YOU GUYS HAVE ALL THE INFORMATION YOU NEED RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Remember those tags that you can’t remove because of well, JAILTIME? Every single mattress MUST have one, which lists the EXACT components inside of your mattress by WEIGHT. Meaning, if your bed is a combination of Latex and Polyurethane foams, then your tag should say something along the lines of ‘Latex Foam Rubber ………. 60% – Polyurethane Foam ……….. 30% – Cotton Batting ……….. 10%.’ You can replace whatever values you want in that sentiment, and, by law, THE TAG MUST ACCURATELY REPRESENT THE BED.

        Now when it comes to sales, the industry has a standard, and unfortunately that standard is low. Personally, our sales team doesn’t worry about commission, as we don’t pay out commission based on sales. We pay them daily. Think of ANY retail salesman as a shark, and inform yourself on the materials in a bed and how/what they do, not what they tell you. If you hear rubber, that’s a good sign. If you hear foams, that’s a bad sign. If you hear NATURAL, that could mean anything from 10% – 90% Natural. There is no such thing as 100% Natural. Also, Natural DOES NOT MEAN ORGANIC. Don’t be played for a fool. A human being has the ability to discern and make their own decisions. Not doing the research is ignorance. Searching the name of a bed on Google is not research. Asking about what materials are in your bed and Googling how they react to body pressure over time is research.

        We manufacture beds, and therefore know the laws involved with them. This isn’t biased. We know there are scumbags, just as there are in ANY industry. What did you expect?

        MOVING on to the other main subject: Prices/Longevity.

        Mattresses with pillowtops are not the problem, and aren’t ‘purposefully’ created to create another purchase 4 years from your first. They simply are a cheap/effective way to create a comfortable feel for a small price. Your pillowtop in a $500 mattress versus a $1200 mattress will most likely be the exact same thing. THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR. Nowhere in this article do I see a mention of EDGE SUPPORTS, FOUNDATIONS, or PLATFORM BEDS. You are comparing apples to oranges when it comes to the price you mentioned. (At least, that’s what it’s made out to be when you leave out very important price-changers.)

        I always ask this question, as you’re in bed for roughly one-third of your LIFETIME.
        Do you drive? How much did you pay for your BMW 350i out there? That car will last you a much shorter time than your bed. Considering you paid $40k for that, and $600 on your bed. Is it worth buying something along the lines of $2k-3k for a mattress? YES, BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE BUYING LATEX, or ANYTHING WITHOUT POLYURETHANE FOAMS AND A GOOD COIL SYSTEM.

        The number of coils does NOT matter. For the love of God, PLEASE stop asking that ridiculous question to salespeople. They don’t know the answer, and frankly, the coil count has absolutely NOTHING to do with the bed. It’s simply an arbitrary number. They can fit 1200 smaller coils in the same space 900 ‘normal’ coils might fit. It DOES NOT MATTER. The coil system should be the last thing to break down on your bed if you bought anything with pocketed coils (or individually-wrapped coils, pick your term).

        Lastly, here comes the part about the markups in the industry. They’re median. It’s not a volume item. End of story. Anybody in business will understand that you simply cannot make a living if you’re selling a bed that lasts 8 years for a 10% margin.

        Anyway, best of luck with absolutely everything mattress related, and hopefully you’re sleeping well with what you ended up grabbing, but please do not trash on the mattress industry as a whole, because it’s not a ‘scam’.

        Congrats on the luck purchasing online, if I had a dollar for every customer who ‘just bought a bed online and it’s horrible,’ well, I wouldn’t have to sell any more beds.

        – Parker

        • Thank you for this post. I am elderly and need to move from a memory foam mattress to a firm mattress because I broke my back. I have no clue how to tell the difference in materials even to research on the internet. I would be interested in talking to you, if possible.

        • Sorry Parker but I have to disagree with you on a few point and while I’m not longer a retail store/mfg owner, I have been in the busy for over 35 years. Law tags requirements vary state by state, some with as little as “All New Materials”. A % tells very little as to the QUALITY of the material listed, foam density, ratio of short and long cotton fibers, spring wire gauge etc.

          True a lot of salespeople don’t make commission they make what is know as “SPIFFS” or mfg/retailers bonus or kickback money for selling a certain product and/or at a certain price. Spiffs can be $20 to $200 or MORE per sale. So for a salesperson that gets spiffs to say “I don’t work on commission ” is to lead the consumer to think the salesperson is unbias and has no interest in what product a consumer selects. WRONG!

          True a consumer should consider the fact that they will spend up to a 1/3 (8 hours a day if lucky) of their life in their mattress and buy one that is comfortable and durable, but that doesn’t mean they have to spend a grand or two.

          True and False, I’m a innerspring guy, and my favorite coil is L&P 368 double offset, 12.75 ga wire with 6 turns, they use to make a 7 turn.
          368 is the Full size coil count, 450 queen, more in the king.
          But you are right a good coil will be the last thing you wear out. It’s the padding and comfort that wears out 1st, so a good spring with high density polyurethane foam, quality insulator and cotton with good combination of linters works for me. Plus I prefer a REAL box spring as opposed to the hard foundations, semi-flex etc that is so profitable to mfg’s. The box spring is the “padding under the carpet” the shock absorber to extend the life of the mattress.

          Lastly if your selling mattresses that last ONLY 8 years your selling the junk stuff. I stand by my belief as a major retailer stated in their ads that “if your mattress is 8 years old it is time to replace it”, I say if you’re buying what they are selling, they are probable right!


          • Hello Scott

            I enjoyed reading your comments and feel we share a few preferences in a mattress. I would like to know if you know some mattresses that have the L&P Hinge-flex innerspring that you mentioned on your post show in Jeff Boulters blog (shown below)?

            Scott wrote : I’m a innerspring guy, and my favorite coil is L&P 368 double offset, 12.75 ga wire with 6 turns, they use to make a 7 turn.

            Seems to me, the 2 sided beds from years ago were more comfortable. Also, I like the idea of using both sides to increase the years of life and comfort. Its seems hard to find a store that sells a 2 sided bed. I am ok with buying a 1 sided mattress. I sleep on my stomach and prefer a medium amount of firmness. I am about 170 lbs. Thank you and looking forward to hear from you.

            Regards, Jim
            Dallas TX.

          • Hey Jim , I do know of a couple manufactures that at least the last time I had information about offered the 368 coil unit. Colton mattress in Asheville NC, .
            Fox mattress in Florida, ,
            And Rainbow bedding in Ohio 330- 852-3127. Rainbow has other retailers in different markets but not sure about Texas, you would have to call them.
            There are probably manufactures in you area that use that good old spring and it would probably be more of a mom and pop type company.
            Just remember it is what you’re putting on top of the spring that is even more important then the spring.
            Hope this helps.

        • Parker,

          I agree with most everything you stated here. Just a few things I believe you were stated were not exactly correct. I have been out of the mattress business for a couple of years now, but I worked in manufacturing and sales for over 15 years. You are absolutely correct in stating the mattress information is on the law tags and I believe every mattress sales person should have the knowledge of what is inside of each bed and how they are constructed, but the fact is many do not know and do not care to know. They just want to sell comfort and earn commission.

          The number of coils alone means absolutely nothing. It is the combination of coil design, gauge of steel, and number of turns. There are beds with 400 coils that are far more durable than any bed with 1000 coils ( based on queen size). Latex is by far the most durable, but it is expensive and almost impossible to find pure latex in any bed. Many will say it “contains 100% latex” The key word is “contains” but that just means it could have 5% of 100% latex blended in or less.

          The individual pocketed coils or wrapped coils are not tempered and have the shortest life span. Making the beds 1 sided instead of 2 sided also shortened the life span and that is why beds now last 8 to 10 years instead of 12 to 20 years. The warranty of a mattress has nothing to do with how long a mattress will last either. The warranty covers against manufactures defects and defects in the material and does not cover normal wear and tear. If you do not have a defect in the first couple of years then you most likely will not have a warranty issue. You could have a 25 year warranty on the bed and it wears out in 8, that’s not a warranty issue that is normal wear and tear. In NC a lifetime warranty on a mattress means the mattress has a 7 year warranty, which is what the state considers the life of a mattress.

          Another lie from the mattress industry is your mattress will double in weight after 8 to 10 years. This is a boldface lie. I have never seen a mattress that has doubled in weight even after 20 years. My current mattress is 12 years old, it was 210lbs when I bought it and I can still lift it to flip it or carry it, but in no way could I do that if it weighed even 300lbs let alone 420lbs as the mattress industry would like you to believe. Maybe if you never changed your sheets or mattress pads for those 10 years and your body sweat never evaporated this might be able to happen.

          I would say that more than 90% or more of the mattresses in the industry contain polyurethane foams. You will be very hard pressed to find anything without it. Even Tempurpedic contains polyurethane foam.

          The density of the foam is also only part of the equation. Some companies use filled foams to increase the density and that reduces the durability. So you can have a 7lb foam that is lower quality than a 4lb foam. In general as long as it is above 2lbs density you are okay for the quality. 1.8lb and lower is usually on lower in mattress.

          The national average for markup on mattresses is 44%. The manufactures suggested retail price is usually 100% or higher, mattresses are rarely if ever tagged at that price for sale. I believe Tempurpedic is probably still the highest markup in the mattress industry and most of theirs is around 60% to 70%.

          As far as pillow tops go, they are the same thing as the plush mattress in there line. A $500 pillow top and a $1200 pillow top will not be even close to the same thing. A pillow top takes a little more labor to make and has additional fabric around the border and an additional tape edge. It allows the foams to be lofted up a little more to give a thicker appearance and a softer feel without adding more padding to the bed. Usually you will pay about 8% to 12% more for a pillow top due to the extra labor and fabric, but that is it. They last the same amount of time as their plush version. Plush and pillow top version will show more body impression than a firm padded mattress and that should be just common sense.

          Buying a bed online I have to agree is a horrible idea. I strongly advise against it, unless your the type of person that can sleep on anything and do not care much about what it feels like.


      • Mattress companies have colluded with sheet companies to deny the average person a set of sheets. The new “standard” is 15″ and up. The old standard and the one I have no problem continuing to live with, is 6″-9″. Not everyone wants a foam mattress but when Tempurpedic got in the game, the whole world followed, leaving some of us without a place to sleep or a set of sheets that fits our beds.
        Such a drag.

        • We sell mattresses that range from 6″ to 14″ our sheets are guaranteed to fit all beds. We sell all the top brands Sealy, S&F, Simmons,Serta and Tempurpedic. We also carry all the most popular models from all the top brands. Just like every industry there is misconceptions that consumers believe. It is true at one point in time they did make 22″ mattresses, but just like many other mattress misconceptions this is old news. I love sleep like the dead . Org but they still have old irrelevant information that consumers believe to be the Bible of the mattress industry. In their defense mattresses change on a continual bases. When new issues arise the industry tries hard to counter it by correcting the issue with improved products.

      • But it is science…..a mattress is the most important product you can buy. We spend an average of 10 hours a day on them. First you need to find proper support to correctly keep your body especially your back and spine properly aligned..then adequate comfort level to relieve any pressure on your body parts…lastly the proper pillow to keep your neck properly aligned while you sleep. As far as mattresses being marked up of course like any other product…restaurant food is marked up 300%. A mattress stores does indeed have the information regarding the materials that make up each mattress, this is law in most states….so you can compare them…throw names out the window when shopping to each their own rather look for support,pressure relief, and proper alignment of your body…..always protect your Matt and pillow with protector to increase it’s life from daily body fluids that breakdown the mattress ie. Sweat.
        How to find support by laying flat on your back on New mattress have your co buyer observe your alignment. Your body should appear evenly support as if your were standing straight. They must step back approximately 3 ft to observe and kneel for proper viewing of alignment….mid section dips there’s not enough support….Don’t buy that mattress….secondly after finding support turn to your side using a pillow…test for pressure in your heaving zoned areas which are your hips and shoulders….rate the pressure or lack of from 0-10….select a proper pillow for your normal sleep position a try lying on mattress in that position for 20 min….if all is well buy mattress…No other factors will decide price ie springs vs coils vs memory foam etc…always test mattress for noise….normally individually wrapped coils are quieter then regular springs that are bonded together…while memory foam of silence…..good luck…..Remember we spend 1/3 of our lives in bed on a mattress….70 hours a week vs 10 hours in our cars average cost $16,000 that’s benefits our body’s none only our egos. Look to spend at least $1200. For a decent queen set and you’ll be fine….

      • You are so right Mark. We bought a 5 inch foam top on a mattress that was so comfortable when we laid on it at a mattress store, we were convinced it was the one for us, and $2200 later we walked out of the store knowing we bought the right product. We’re in our late 70s early 80s, and after 3 years the sagging began. The saleman assured us the foam would come back up, but here we are mattress shopping again, but this time there won’t be a pillow, or foam top mattress! The mattress in the guest room was not a pillow top, we bought a 2″ foam topping from Walmart, and that’s where I sleep now. Much more comfortable!!

    • All this begs the question: How can the materials and construction of a mattress POSSIBLY cost $1,000 and way up? It is patently insane. Regular, non-mechanical mattresses are wood, metal springs/supports of one kind or another, and fabrics. And they are MASS PRODUCED. It is absolutely crazy that they could cost any more than $500. Does everyone in the chain mark the product up 400% at each stage–from manufacturer to distributor, from distributor to chain, from chain to store and then from store to customer? IT IS UNDENIABLY WRONG and all the mattress retailers ARE IN COLLUSION.

      • What many people don’t understand is that big name brands such as Sealy, Simmons, and Serta have what is called a price lock. Retailers of their products HAVE to sell it at what they tell them to. The prices are marked up so high because you’re not just paying for the mattress. You’re paying for the sleep trials that some stores offer, the advertising, the higher management, the sales commission of all employees, and most of all the warranty. If you want a quality mattress at a decent price then find a store that has a brand you have never heard of. If you haven’t heard of it, then they aren’t putting thousands of dollars into advertising and you don’t have to pay for it in their mattress. I work for a mattress outlet store. If you can find a genuin outlet mattress store than you will save a ton of money. We get mattresses that are close outs, liquidations, mis-matched sets, or freight blemished (meaning a truck driver ripped the plastic as he took it off the truck and got a scuff mark on it). All of those things voids the warranty, so you don’t have to pay for it. We get big name brand mattresses through that process and sell them at least half price of what other stores sell them at. Never buy a mattress based on the warranty. You can pay 2,000 for a queen Sealy and as you carry it into your house put a scuff mark on it if you bump it into the wall or ground. That scuff mark voids your warranty. Warranties are useless. Find an outlet store. I’ve currently got a big name brand mattress on my floor for $800 that retails at $2,299 down the road. (We can’t mention the brand names we carry due to contracts with those companies.)

        • No longer a secret, mattress salesmen work off commission, and manufacturers give bonuses for selling their particular product or line. One month it might be Sealy, the next Simmons etc. Working for Macy’s mattress dept. I quickly learned from the other salesman what to push to make the most commission. Yes we were trained, and toured the major manufacturers facilities, but the bottom line, when all is said and done, none of them stood out as being better made. Only your back can tell. Find a reputable store that will give you as many days trial as you can get.. Get it in writing.

          • Take as much time as needed in the store to find the right mattress. As I have worked in this business for 17 years be warned of stores that provide a “comfort guarantee” that allows you to reselect. These manufacturers do not take them back with a refund to the retailer just because it wasn’t as comfortable as you thought. Retailers are only issued credits if the mattress is deemed defective in material or workmanship. Unless the mattress is soiled (which voids the comfort guarantee as well ad the mfgr guarantee) they will re-package it and re-sell it. I promise you they do not just eat that mattress cost and throw it away after exchanging it. If they did I would never buy a mattress again and just go dumpster diving for a new one! You may very well end up with a mattress that has been used by one or more people. Take as much time as you need, lay on it in every position you sleep in, for as long as it takes. Take a nap if you must! Don’t be afraid to spend an hour+ laying on mattress. Also I highly recommend a Latex mattress with at least 7″ to 11″ of solid talaly latex.

        • Most Sealy, Simmons, and Serta products do not have a price lock. Only Tempurpedic, Sterns and Foster, Serta IComfort,and the very high end of Simmons has a price lock. You are right, the margins are set to cover the cost of doing business. The break even point for the majority of mattress stores is a 35% mark up. Anything less and they start to lose money. I am not sure how the manufactures get away with price fixing, but it seems to be allowed in the mattress and industry, but illegal in all other industries.

      • I own a family-ran mattress store and I can tell you that though many people believe this, it simply is not the case. While there are stores like sleepey’s that mark up the beds a ton before dropping them down for aggressive customers, there are also stores like ours that make a small margin that is the same across every mattress. With the new high density memory foams infused with gel, latex, and higher cost of steel wholesale costs can easily he to to the $1000 range on many sets. However. I don’t csrry tempurpedics, strerns and fosters, heirlooms, and some other high end brands because you really don’t get what you pay for. In my opinion Serta is the best large retailer out there in way of quality for the price and I especially have had a lot of success eith a bed lasting 15 plus years with the natural 100% Talalay latex line for side and back sleepers that our local Serta plant makes here in salt lake.. But the problem is that they don’t make it nationwide. Also, for people over 200 pounds each, 4″ of Talalay latex isn’t quite enough for a mattress to last more than 10 years. Unfortunately along with all of the other justified comments on here for problems in the mattress industry, there are also politics involved that make matters even worse. Even a lot of the review sites are biased and don’t offer a fair review of all categories.
        Hope that helps!

        • While I agree Serta is a great product and the luxury lines really do not add a benefit for additional support or life. They are more for keeping up with the Jones and you spend more money on fluff than anything. I think the best bed for the money that I have seen came from Southerland Sleep out of Nashville, TN. The quality of the mattress you can retail for $599.00 Queen is as good if not better than a $799 to $899 name brand mattress.

  4. Couldn’t agree more. My wife and I shopped for a new mattress for several months going into many brick-and-mortar type stores. It was insane that the “cheap” mattress was still $1,500. We were almost sold on a Tempurpedic, because you know…it’s a 3rd of your life when a co-worker told me about the Tuft & Needle mattress.

    The price was incredible and the reviews were good. We went ahead and ordered. The T&N ended up being a little too firm for us, so we returned it, but it opened our eyes to a litany of new online only companies. Ended up ordering from another company and are absolutely loving it.

    I’m really excited for the next year. Lots of new excited young companies. Going to be a great 2015 for mattress industry.

    • I’m going to buy any mattress I damn well feel like. Don’t tell people what they can and can’t buy. American companies an CEOs are all to eager to rip off their fellow Americans. I don’t owe them any loyalty. And competition is good, keeping the assholes honest.

    • Serta and Simmons may be shipped internationally and they may have factors in other countries but they are American companies just like Sealy, Tempurpedic and Stearns and Foster. I’m at work now looking at the law tags of my sertas made in temple, tx and my simmons made in phoenix, az. I will say that “traditional beds” are maybe 1-500 dollars marked up depending on the listed price but that’s just because consumers always want to feel like they are getting a deal. It is more important for me to match a customer with the right bed than right price. People don’t realize how important sleep is and how little sleep they are actually getting. Saying You spend 1/3 of life in bed isn’t a sales technic, it’s the truth. You spend $5 a day on coffee or energy drinks cause you didn’t sleep well but you think anything over $500 is too much?? That’s crazy to me. Also, the time and effort that goes into those beds! Mattresses are not mass produced in a traditional machine made way. There are people assembling them, stitching them together and all that good stuff. I’ve been several factories to see for myself. I’m glad that beds are different across manufactures because of online retailers… People come in lay on the bed before order it online and asking a million questions. Every salesperson makes commission or minimum wage. Don’t waste their time if you plan to order online. 10/10 times they will match the price if it’s similar. I know I’ve been all over the place I want people to value sleep and understand that every salesperson is NOT trying to deceive you.

          • Aril’s comment is the first one on here that is true. Most of the other comments in here either have an agenda or are completely mis-informed. There is a mish mash of truths throughout the blog and commentaries. The mattress industry is aware of the perception that the average consumer has of it and unfortunately there are retailers that perpetuate this image. Rely on a retailer you trust or that has been recommended to you. Contrary to some of the comments on hear, I’d stick with the brand names (Tempur-Pedic, Sealy, Simmons, Serta, Stearns and Foster, etc). If the retailer doesn’t back you with a warranty complaint, these manufacturers will. They are in competition with each other (to clarify Tempur, Sealy and S&F are all one company now as are Simmons and Serta). Every mattress from these manufacturers are man made, labor intensive and on average take a total of 4 hours to make (some a lot longer depending on brand). They are not just spit out in 20 minutes through an automated assembly line. The internet today is full of information. Spend time researching both retailers and brands. Look for reviews, plenty of them out there. Buying a bed is like buying a pair of shoes, what feels good to one may not feel good to another. I am not an owner of a mattress retail store nor do I work in one but I have written many subjects on the opportunities for the mattress industry to improve their image.

      • Not sure you will ever see this April but you are a rare sales person in this industry. Thank you for taking great care of your clients and not perpetuating the things that give our industry a bad name! What part of the country are you in? I own a mattress store in the mid-west and people with our approach are few and far between :-(

    • Umm….Both companies are owned and operated in USA. Simmons home office is in Atlanta, GA. The major shareholder right now on the investment side is Advent International, which is an international investment firm, but the companies and products USA.

  5. Really like the thorough review here – you definitely highlighted some of the major scam aspects of the mattress industry. I’m interested to see what will come in a few years – there are so many new companies selling online only, and plenty more to come. Maybe this will pressure the big guys to behave better, or just replace them entirely…

  6. I bought a Sealy Posturepedic Cushion Firm Queen Size Mattress 3/26/14 from by the end of the year it was starting to sag. So it got worse and I decided to contact them about the 10 warranty I was suppose to have. They said because I live in CA they cannot honor the warranty. Why when I placed the order and they saw that I lived in CA they did not have a problem with this issue?

    They finally agreed to replace the mattress and give me a credit but it cost me an additional $124.99 to have it shipped to me. I thought of contacting Sealy but I read all the scams and claims turned down by Sealy. So I opted to go with paying more money for supposedly a better mattress. This time it was a Sealy Posterpedic Plush Mattress and I was told this was a better mattress than the one I had originally bought. This mattress after paying $259.56 to get it, the mattress lasted 2 days! It was sagging worse than the other mattress, so I called them and they told me that they could not help me because it was a one time offer to replace the mattress since it is a National Delivery! So now with these two mattresses I have spent $901.55 and my only hope was going to Sealy.

    I got to reading all the complaints online over the weekend about Sleepy and Sealy, I knew I would never get anywhere and it would cost more money to have one of their people come out and inspect the problem. Plus you have to take pictures, measure, etc. and then pay more money for junk and they probably will deny your claim. I also found out that Sleepy owns the websites and

    So I decided to cut my losses. I contacted a local store Family Owned since 1954 Escondido Mattress and talked with them and they told me this mattress scam is a huge business. I also found on other sites that there are over 21,000 mattresses going to dump for sagging and other issues.

    So I went over to his store and they make their own mattresses right at their location and do not sell to stores. They make all kinds of mattresses that have the old kind of mattress that you can turn over! They have vibrating mattress with or without heat, they have regular mattresses of different firmness, etc. and frames anything your heart desires. I paid $900 for a queen size mattress that is beautiful! It is firm and comfortable. This is the best mattresses I highly recommend Escondido Mattress Co, Escondido, CA. I do not know if they deal out of State. They are located in the San Diego Area of CA. This is there website and they had no problem with a 10 year warranty!

    Stop wasting your time any money trying to make the mattress you bought at wherever. It doesn’t matter either what brand you buy, Sealy, Stern Rogers, etc. they are all part of the same scam no matter what store you buy it from. I have a 1980’s Stern Rogers King Size and it is great! But I would not buy one today!

    Good luck to you and see if Escondido Mattress ships to your area. I am sure you would have to pay for shipping but I had to pay for that for the rotten junk I got. This mattress is like going back to the 50’s that lasted for years! You can flip it over turn it just like the old days. Not that bunch of junk in the stores. They make there mattresses right there in the place where I bought this mattress!

  7. After 15 years of sleeping happily on a Serta we went mattress shopping and this was our experience: I recently bought my Sealy mattress and box spring at Jordan’s Furniture. The mattress ended up being too hard. After only one week, my back was in pain and told them I wanted to re-select. They charged me $160 to re-select. After only 1 month I have noticed that my bed is making squeaking noises (like an old bed). We inspected the box spring and we noticed that it’s not a Sealy one, it’s not even a real box spring, it’s a piece of crap made of plywood and cardboard. I paid $170 for that. They sold me a Jordan’s box spring instead of a Sealy one. That’s very dishonest I think. I am contacting them right now to get a refund and get a real shock absorber box spring. Please, stay away from Jordan’s, there are many small family owned businesses everywhere. Get a real mattress and a real good box spring like a Gold Bond (two sided), made in Connecticut. Also if you don’t want to feel hot at night or smell toxic fumes, stay away from memory foam. I learned it the hard way. I hope this helps you take a better decision.

  8. Why do people pay in excess of 100,000 to drive a Mazeratti? Because you can’t build one yourself. The same is true for most any luxury item. Sleep on a cheap mattress for a week and it will destroy your back and health. Sleep is one of the four biological functions you can not live without. It has been proven that sleep deprivation causes severe health risks. Suffice it to say that I was willing to spend in excess $ 10,000 for my sleep system. The brand is not important, Because my preference may not be yours and what is comfortable is very subjective.

  9. We bought a temperpedic matress from Sleepys about 5 years ago. As it turns out, it was a huge mistake because of our like/dislike of the memory foam, not because the product was defective. We also had paid the additional amount to return the mattress if we did not like it. As it turns out (and they will not tell you this)…you cannot return the mattress and get another one unless you get a more expensive mattress. Its not a return policy, but and exchange policy for a more expensive product. what you do….try the store first, than call the home office. Have them put pressure on the store to return the product and they will.

    • Just FYI Mattress Firm, does allow exchanges down or up…100 days exchange sleep happy guarantee. I wish I was helping you, if a memory foam bed isnt for you I would have got you on the best bed for you, whether it was $100 or $3500. Comfort is subjective. Accurate about sleepys though. I hope they change that!

  10. We bought a king set from Sam’s Club 12 years ago for our seasonal (4 months a year) home. It was and remains the most comfortable mattress we have ever had, and we have a Stearns and Foster in our home at five times the Sam’s Club price. I’m going back to Sam’s or possibly Costco for our next one .

  11. My major concern after deciding ,based on my research about Tatalay vs Dunlop,has been the chemical cocktail the mattresses are subjected to. I believe that issue,over arches all other issues when it comes to buying a mattress in North America. It is difficult to determine what you will be exposed to. And what damage you are likely to suffer over time as a result of this exposure.

  12. Disclaimer: I work for a mattress retailer.

    I just would like to address the points he listed out one by one. Not trying to be combative. Just want to show the other side of that coin so everyone can have big picture view of the talking points.

    1. The sales guy may have been abrasive, which nobody likes, but if is a commission salesman & he gave you that good of a deal, he probably took a huge hit on his margin which means his commission on the sale would have been bad for him. So he could have been taking a financial hit trying to help you out. Not say he did, just saying it’s possible. Also of course mattresses have high markups. I never understand why people are shocked at this. It’s retail 101. I always ask this to those who find the price a little high. If you made a product that billions of people used daily for 1/3 of their day & could last them decades if properly taken care of, how much would you charge?….. I’ll wait…. Also even with markups the mattress retailers are providing a service to the community. I know, it sounds crazy. You have to look at it from a larger perspective. I like to related to the car industry, where a large Ford dealership can’t buy F-150s for extremely low prices from Ford because they buy and such high quantities. My wife works for the corporate side of a car retailer and her company just bought brand-new suburban from Chevy four $17,000 a piece. Can you go to Chevy and buy a suburban brand-new for $17,000? Now you can’t not because you don’t have the same level of buying power that a major company does. It’s the same thing with mattresses, you can’t go to Simmons and buy a brand-new product at the same price that a major retailer can. Therefore we’re actually providing a lower price point than you would have to pay if it wasn’t for the retailers (even with the markups).

    2. The retailers don’t give the mattresses different names, the vendors do. Vendors want their product in our show rooms so if you’re a large enough company they will actually make beds exclusively for your company. This is how they reward retailers for carrying & selling their product. It would be poor marketing for retailers to turn down an exclusive line of product. All businesses are trying to set themselves apart, and this is one it’s done in the mattress industry. It is inconvenient for people trying to price match and compare, but it’s pretty simple most mattresses come in a plush, pillow top, or firm. Most mattress companies create different series a luxury, popular, and an economical choice. You’re right on the money with your solution compare the apples to apples feels in each category of luxury, popular, and economic.

    3. If you’re having trouble getting stats and specs on your mattress and that is unnerving. It’s usually easier to tell the specs of the mattress then what the specs of the mattress actually mean. So if you’re having trouble, or the salesman’s having trouble telling you what’s in the mattress I would go to a different store. It’s pretty easy to real off specs from mattresses, but I like to learn what it means to have more or less coils or what it means to have this kind of foam more than that. Once you learn the purpose of each material then you can conclude what more or less amounts of it will mean for your mattress.

    4. There is no objective measuring stick for mattresses because feel is subjective. Also, there’s no data showing coil counts matter because nowadays there are different kinds of coils with different kinds of strength levels made of different materials so saying you have 420 coils in one bed and 420 and the other doesn’t really mean anything because if one bed has a triple wrap coil is that going to provide more support even though they have the same coil count. So keep in mind the reason there is no “this coil count is better than this coil count” is because you’re not always talking about the same coil. That goes for all the different materials and a mattress. And even if they tell you how much of what is been the mattress, they’re not going to tell you the exact ingredients in each foam in the exact gradients for each comfort layer. Just like Coca-Cola will tell you what’s in their drink but is it going to tell you what the formula is. Companies are going to continue to keep their proprietary blends in their products so their competitors cannot replicate their product exactly.

    5. There are very little reviews of mattresses, but keep in mind that not high volume product. Most people only by 3 to 5 mattresses in their lifetime. And a lot of times people only review things that they’re not happy with. I know personally I have never left a review if I was satisfied with something. I want to be clear in saying that I don’t think that everybody’s happy with their mattress that’s why there’s not reviews, I’m just saying it could be a culmination of a lot of things.

    I hope this helps with some insight. Also sorry for any grammatical errors I did this with talk to text Haha

  13. I am a mattress salesman and have the duel career of being a well known variety act.

    I am personally responsible for increasing the size of my dept. store’s mattress section from 21 to 75 mattresses. I had excellent help, of course, from those that I helped train.

    I am the most honest salesman you ever encounter and want to help you. I do my best to stay within your budget and help you pick the best mattress for you.

    I cannot help you with the price, because I don’t set the price. But, there are a number of things you should know.

    1) Box Springs are seldom better if they cost $200 by a certain brand, or $100 for the same company’s “lesser” brand.

    2) Never buy the cheapest advertised mattress! I have nothing to do with it being on the cover of our ad (and hate it). But, they are trash! A barely use able mattress will have a 5 year full warranty and a good to excellent one a full 10 year warranty. The ones so many of you rush in about have 1 year warranties!

    Spend the extra money or you WILL be sorry when you spend even more money later on a decent one.

    3) The gauge of steel in your coils are more important than you think. A smaller number is the stronger steel when it comes to gauge. Anything under 14 is excellent. 14 is okay if the number of coils is good. (800 or more in a queen size pocketed coil is fine too.) 15 or 15.5 or above is a really soft coil and is MUCH more likely to break down!
    If your salesperson does not know the gauge, it could be because the manufacturer (brand name) doesn’t want anyone to know……even the salesperson!

    I myself have been burned by this before and it makes me feel like a liar if I find out what I was told was a lie. I am too smart to make that mistake now and drill my manufacturer reps for the truth. If the info. is not readily available on the product sign, ask your salesperson. Don’t be afraid to ask them how they know this either!

    4) The Labor Day and Memorial Day Sales are generally the best time to buy a mattress. Prices are never lower than then.

    5) 50% off is normal. 60% off is a sale price. Nobody buys a “full priced” mattress! (Tempurpedic is the only brand that doesn’t play this pricing game at my store. And, that is only on their main Tempurpedic line. Their other brands: Sealy Posturpedic and Stearns and Foster do.)

    There is so much more I could say. If anyone is interested and responds, I will.

    • I learned a lot from reading your post. I’m shopping for a mattress right now having gone through five mattresses in the past nine years and would like to read more of what you have to say.



  14. Like Kathy, above, I bought a mattress online from “Sleepy’s” and was completely disappointed. When I tried to send my allegedly “firm” mattress back (it wasn’t firm), I was told it was a “National Delivery” and they couldn’t take it back. I even offered to pay the freight myself and was told the same thing!
    Sleepy’s is an awful, dishonest company. They are everything Americans hate in a large corporation.
    NEVER buy from Sleepy’s.
    Chances are you will end up as happy as I am.

  15. “homed in,” not “honed in.” To hone is to sharpen.
    Good article and much needed.
    I completely agree that the mattress industry is a repulsive scam. I loathe everything about it. My biggest shock was discovering that manufacturers now make only one-sided mattresses. So you can’t turn your mattress. So it wears out faster. The salesman claimed that mattresses were made better so that you don’t have to turn them anymore. Yeah, right.
    I bought my elderly father a new mattress a few years ago and after about six months it had a huge depression where Dad’s rear end went.

  16. For all the ‘industry’ people on here a question (and comment/rant, sorry it’s a frustrating topic, I don’t mean anything personal by it): What is the deal with the warranties, those seem like a large waste for the most part. I have had several foam or mostly foam type mattresses that lose their firmness which is very easy to feel rolling around on the mattress but they do not visibly ‘sag’ from the top, which warranties seem to require. Do mattresses ever visibly sag anymore? To me the layperson it seems like they will lose firmness which you feel and are annoyed by far earlier than a big enough visible sag would appear, so you end up having to get a new one that hasn’t started giving out. Maybe if I kept sleeping on it for 4 more years it would sag enough for a replacement but who is willing to do that to their health? Seems like kind of a setup that only protects you from catastrophic construction problems which would be obvious very early on.

    === Below is more along the lines of ranting so feel free to ignore ===

    Comparing mattresses to auto’s seems a bit crazy. Autos are a million times more complicated and have hugely different materials, manufacturing and safety needs. I know they are both traditionally a big PITA to purchase but autos have done a lot better in the last 10-15 years and have always had better comparable objective data about them even if the feel of driving every single car is different.

    I don’t buy any of the arguments about why it’s OK for brand/model to be only at one store, and lack of objective facts about firmness/spring/motion transfer/heat retention. It just anti consumer.

    Not sure why it is supposed to be considered common knowledge that you never pay full price for a mattress and that you can magically figure which brands different ‘exclusive’ models are really the same. I did my reasearch and don’t pay full price and can work out which are comparable but it is a huge non consumer friendly PITA.

    Even the traditional expensive PITA purchase of car dealers has embraced consumer friendly comparisons and technology. My last car I used the internet to narrow down what I wanted to about 5 cars, tested them at the dealerships, picked which one I liked and got an out the door price from the dealer, went home and used an tool to request out the door prices on the exact model I wanted from the 10 closest dealers and picked the one with the best price vs time to get to value proposition and was done. Easy. Mattresses the only thing I can do is go try them in stores and then not shop around without a bunch of headache in figuring out if I would actually get the same thing. I like local retail and keeping money in the community and all that but have completely given up on mattresses locally. The prices and review power of the internet have made it so I don’t care to deal with the PITA hassle that is a mattress store. Go to amazon and see lots of mem foam / gel / latex mattresses of different types with hundreds of reviews for fractions of the price of equivalent local mattress. I could by two or three online before I find a great match and still come out ahead. I can ask people who have the mattress questions about it and if they sleep the same as I do or share physical attributes, etc. If I could do that and go down to the local store and try it out and pay a little more I’d be happy to, but I can’t. (And seriously whomever was saying people don’t review mattresses should go look at amazon reviews of them, because there seem to be thousands.)

    Straight foam mattresses I could see being made industrially at scale, cutting foam and gluing different densities together in different ways seems like it would be fairly trivial mechanically vs all the automation that goes on in other industries. No idea if that is happening or not at this point, but robotics are getting better all the time so I would assume people with the capitol to start using them will be able to really drop the price point at some point if manufacture is actually the big cost vs material and delivery.

  17. I like the depth of reviews here and the many angles presented in exposing the hoax and gimmicks that have taken over the mattress industry. Our company, Beds By Design in Northern Michigan began in 2004, after most major mattress companies were bought out by investment firms and began competing and churn out cheaper products more quickly. Our founding president walked away after 25 years in the industry as a national plant manager or supervisor because he could no longer tolerate the intentional planned obsolescence of the products, nor the reliance on cheaper, chemical laden foam products. Does anyone remember when mattresses used to last? Our company went back to the old school methods that take time, are not mass produced and use craftsman techniques such as inner and outer hand tufting. There are hardly any mattress manufactures out their like this anymore. But it is worth searching for a company like this. Look for smaller, locally owned mattress manufacturers in your state, or one that ships in the US, that still handcraft, one at a time and don’t rely on mass production. Reliance on natural materials is of course another major consideration.

  18. Here’s another angle to consider and that’s the risk of large chains forcing the manufacturers to “decontent” the mattress to make it more profitable/ give better sale prices than the smaller stores.

    I had this problem when looking for a snowblower at Home Despot, so the idea of this happening to mattresses, an item that is very difficult to determine inside quality etc, isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

    I found an excellent site called:

    Personally, I am doing a year of due diligence followed by trips to a trusted small mattress store. I am prepared to pay the money if needed. I won’t be swayed by massive sales. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

    As an aside, I found the beds at Sheraton to be the best I’ve ever slept on and Sheraton does have an online store where you can buy their mattresses from.

  19. Best deal on the Serta lines has to be at Biglots. You can get great sales there. I just picked up a King Size set plush Firm Serta Super pillow top and double box spring there for $799. Non flip of course..but for the money I think it’s a reasonable deal. I wouldn’t pay more. Can’t even really flip mattresses any more and for over 1K it better have damn padding for flipping on each side! That’s the biggest scam going in the last 15 years. “advanced tech” making it “not necessary to flip mattresses”. Yeah… big money maker for the investors, and and scam marketing for the buyers. Anyways…BIG LOTS!!!!! They are a reseller for the whole line of Sertas, and you can get there 20% off sale regularly. Simmons for there sofas too are value branded with dowel construction and you can get them around $300. Stick with the simmons on their sofas, and your good to go. They have the best deals going mattresses and sofas by a long shot these days.

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