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Consumer Reports finds which mattress brands fared best & where to shop

Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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The Original Mattress Factory, Costco and Sleep Train ranked are among the standouts for mattress retailers

Yonkers, NY — Buying a bed can be tricky. Different retailers rarely call a model by the same name and sales seem to be perpetual, leaving shoppers in the dark about bottom-line prices. What’s a shopper to do? Consumer Reports asked 17,444 online subscribers who recently bought a mattress if they were satisfied with their purchase and where to shop to get the best deal.

When it comes to a good night’s rest mattress brand matters. Respondents rated Tempur-Pedic, Original Mattress Factory and Select Comfort higher than most for overall satisfaction. Shoppers who bought those brands were much more satisfied than those who bought Spring Air and Stearns & Foster models. And satisfaction doesn’t have to come at a high price. Although the median price for a Tempur-Pedic is $2,408, Original Mattress Factory models average around $891.

Overall eighty-four percent of respondents said they’d definitely or probably buy their current mattress brand again if they had to do it over. An unhappy 16 percent said they’d probably or definitely pick something else.

“Buying a mattress is no bed of roses,” says Tod Marks, senior project editor for Consumer Reports. “In fact, there are plenty of thorns. Comparison shopping is almost impossible and you’re apt to make that expensive decisions after trying out a bed for just a few minutes in the store. And if you’re unhappy with your selection, you could be out hundreds of dollars if you want to make an exchange.”

Problem sleepers said Tempur-Pedic (made of memory foam that conforms to the shape of the body) and Select Comfort (a line of adjustable air mattresses) provided the most relief. More than 60 percent of long-suffering sleepers who bought either of the two brands said their sleep was very much improved, while respondents who purchased Stearns & Foster and Spring Air mattresses were less satisfied with their mattress. About 10 percent of problem sleepers who bought them said their condition worsened.

The right mattress choice can be the key to a good night’s rest and it doesn’t have to cost a lot according to the Consumer Reports survey results. Here are the details:

  • Any new mattress beats an old one. Seventy-two percent of readers said their new bed improved their sleep. Consider replacing a mattress if it’s uncomfortable, even if it’s only five or so years old.
  • Problem sleepers had a preference. Among those who said they had problems sleeping, 78 percent said that a new bed, any new bed, improved their ability to get a good night’s rest. Forty-two percent said the new mattress greatly improved their sleep experience.
  • Satisfaction doesn’t have to be costly. Although 78 percent of those who spent more than $4,000 said they were highly satisfied with their purchase, 66 percent of those who spent less than $1,000 said they were also highly satisfied.
  • An in-store tryout is a good idea. Seventy-two percent of those who invested at least 10 minutes trying the mattress before purchasing it were highly satisfied with their mattress purchase compared with 62 percent who didn’t. However 12 percent of those surveyed were at least somewhat dissatisfied with their new mattress even if they tried it first.
  • Don’t pay full price. Consumer Reports suggests consumers should never pay full price on a mattress. Discounts of 50 percent or more off the suggested retail price on mattresses are common especially if the shopper tries to bargain for the best price. Although only 36 percent of respondents tried haggling, 72 of those who tried got a lower price.
  • Read the fine print. When deciding where to buy, carefully assess delivery fees and return policies. Some sellers don’t charge for delivery while others waive them during special promotions or for purchases over a certain dollar amount. Otherwise fees range from $40 to $225. Most stores allow exchanges if the mattress is in pristine condition. Some may charge a restocking fee of $140 to 25 percent of the purchase price.
Rating the Retailers

No matter where they bought their beds, most respondents were quite pleased with their purchase experiences. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed were very satisfied on average; 32 percent said they were completely satisfied.

The Original Mattress Factory was a standout for both service and selection. By contrast, Costco, which also scored highly, was a standout because of its excellent prices. Service and selection were minimal and typically shoppers can’t generally try out a bed in a warehouse store. Eighty-nine percent of those surveyed said mattress prices at Costco were very good or excellent (compared to 84 percent who said the same of Sam’s Club).

Most respondents were pleased with their purchase experience. Seventy-one percent were very satisfied and 32 percent said they were completely satisfied. The most common complaint, cited by nine percent of those surveyed, was the lack of models on display, particularly at Costco, Sam’s Club and Sears.

For more information on how mattress brands and retailers fared in Consumer Reports’ survey, check out the September issue, available September 1. The complete report is also available online at www.ConsumerReports.org.


Consumer Reports has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor appearing on this newspaper's web site.
 
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Consumer Reports finds which mattress brands fared best & where to shop
When it comes to a good night’s rest mattress brand matters. Respondents rated Tempur-Pedic, Original Mattress Factory and Select Comfort higher than most for overall satisfaction.
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