Confusion in the Mattress Selection Process
Most people find the mere thought of shopping for a new mattress intimidating. This is because there is a lot of confusion about mattresses and their related products. Some of this confusion comes from the manufacturers, some comes from retailers, and the rest comes from customers themselves. In an effort to help you in your mattress selection process let’s look at each of these separately.
While it is true that manufacturers may produce numerous versions of the same series, it is not done to promote confusion. It is done because their customers (retailers) each demand to have something different than their competition. This is not specific to mattresses. Many products, appliances and electronics to name a few, sell slightly different versions of their products to the different retailers they serve. While the difference may not be large or even noticeable to the average shopper, it’s there. This is done because the retailers always want to be able to exclaim exclusivity or have some other competitive edge. Also, manufacturers have been criticized for using “vague” terms like firm, luxury firm, plush, ultra-plush, etc. There is no and can be no standardized scale because there is too much subjectivity when it comes to the feel of the mattress. If you took ten mattresses and had ten people rank them from firmest to plushest, it is guaranteed that you will get several different rankings. Everybody may agree on the two ends; but, there will be variations in between according to the rankers’ perceptions.
Many retailers add to the confusion by trying to focus your attention on one thing: the price (and how it is better than everyone else’s). They may tell only the facts about the mattress that they want you to hear and downplay others. They may dazzle you with specifications in an effort to show you “how much mattress you are getting for the dollar.” At the end of the day, to them it is all about convincing you that only they have the “best deal” for you.
Finally, consumers make the process more complicated than it needs to be. Focusing on specifications to the exclusion of all other criteria, for instance, will make the job of buying a mattress extremely difficult. To demonstrate: let’s look at coil count. Queen mattress A has 390 coils and costs $400. Queen mattress B has 460 coils and costs $400. Obviously, mattress A is the better choice, right? WRONG. Mattress A has 13 gauge coils; mattress B’s are 15 gauge. A 13 gauge has a larger wire diameter than a 15 gauge coil; so, there is more steel in mattress A. Another example: mattress C has a 5-year warranty and costs $400; mattress D has a 10-year warranty and costs $400. No brainer, mattress D is the best deal. WRONG, again. Mattress C’s warranty is 5 years full warranty (full replacement value). Mattress D’s warranty is 2/10 meaning that only two years is full replacement value (a fact concealed by the retailer, perhaps). Finally, mattress A or C may be the best choice even if their specifications are lacking. How can this be? Because the best choice is really the most comfortable one; see below.