Insidious  Scams That Mattress Retailers Use - How To Avoid Them And Get The Most Mattress For Your Money And A Comfortable Night's Sleep...And...Fake Review Sites That Spread Disease In The Industry

Buying a mattress can be a challenging experience. In the last few years, the industry has exploded with a mushroom cloud of new companies, many of them selling the so-called "bed in a box" concept which makes it really convenient to get a mattress into your home. Because these days the bedding business is so competitive, with hundreds of web sites and endless retail store chains, there is a life and death struggle to get your business. I've seen it, been in the business, and know how tough it is to make a customer comfortable about purchasing just the right mattress. Odds are, no matter where you shop, questionable marketing tactics might be employed to get you to pull out your credit card. While not all mattress retailers are trying to pull a fast one, there are some insidious scams that mattress retailers have used for years that are still being commonly used in mattress stores, and on mattress e-commerce sites, every day.

That isn't to say you can't find the mattress that you want and also get a good price. But your chances of getting the perfect mattress for you at a great price will go up drastically if you come armed with the rarely revealed information from this page. You can check out our carefully vetted list of vendors we recommend by visiting our Where To Buy page, if you want to begin shopping now.

 How to Avoid Getting Scammed Buying a Mattress

On this page we will lay out the Most Insidious Scams of the Mattress Industry. Then we'll show you how to avoid being taken advantage of, and in some cases, flat out ripped off.  One of our columnists has been in the bedding industry since 1994, in both the design and manufacturing world as well as the retail side, and has sold tens of millions of dollars worth of beds and bedding products in his retails stores and on his e-commerce web sites. He's a master of marketing in the industry and knows every single trick that other retailers are using. As you may already know, the mattress companies chasing you around, trying to get you to click their BUY NOW buttons, are conducting trench warfare to get your business. And in some cases, they're playing some pretty sneaky games. That's right. We know the "dark side" of the mattress business. And we're going to pull back the curtain for you, right now, and it won't cost you a cent.

Remember one very important thing. The mattress industry has never been more competitive and hungry for your dollar. There is a battle going on, in both brick and mortar stores and on the web, where endless bed in a box ventures rise up from nowhere, literally every day. Most of these companies are startups created by code savvy twenty somethings with little or no experience in the bedding industry. And they are all coming at you. One big “bed in a box” e-tailer is so aggressive, that they will spend $200 on marketing and advertising, or more, to get you to their shopping cart and click BUY NOW, for a $700 bed. Which begs the question…how much are they spending on the ingredients for your amazing mattress?

These days, really slick web sites with pictures of frolicking couples and their golden retrievers can offer you up a mattress for $400-800, and tell you it’s the most magical thing ever, and you’ll fall for it, because if everyone else is buying it, it must be the most incredible bed ever, right? But, did you ever once consider what you were buying, I mean, even bother to understand what's inside of your super amazing mattress? More importantly, how long have these companies been around? The fact is, older and more established companies use data from existing customer feedback that have owned their products for five years or more to improve their beds, giving you the most important edge you can have when buying a mattress..crowd sourced input into their designs and construction.

Many of the hottest selling mattresses right now are sold by companies less than five years old, and only now are reviews by owners beginning to trickle in around the internet, revealing a host of problems including beds that form craters and sinkholes, with reviews saying things like "my XXXXXXX bed turned into a taco and folded up around me", unanswered phone calls or emails, rude customer service when attempting to return a mattress during a "no questions asked trial period", warranty issues that while clearly displayed on web sites or on paper, don't seem to be honored in real life, and much more.

 

Unfortunately for many of those buyers, they purchased their mattress without any real understanding of exactly what they were buying. Scammed from the get go. Take my advice; an educated customer will put you on an equal playing field with even the most seasoned mattress salesperson around, or if you’re shopping online, at least make you wonder or ask, "tell me what's inside this bed and explain to me why it will last, won't develop indentations, and why you're at it, give me the densities and company names of your foam sources". Once you're in the power position, you can't be taken advantage of, and you may even get a better deal, some freebies thrown in, or special coupon codes for discerning customers.

Let’s get started. Let’s get you armed for battle so you too can become a swashbuckling mattress shopper!

 

1. The Mystery Ingredients Scam Revealed!

This is my favorite, because it truly takes advantage of uneducated potential customers by creating outlandish marketing slang and hype using frilly terminology and warm, dreamy pictures that pitch the glamour and sexiness of a mattress, rather than delivering the facts and straight up, honest features and benefits of the bed.  It's what's known in the marketing world as, regrettably, "putting lipstick on a hog".   Unlike other products that we scrutinize obsessively over, such as jeans and dishwashers, why do we buy a mattress without wanting to understand the benefit of what's inside of the thing?   The reason is simple. We're conditioned to not ask questions about this most intimate of products. We accept the curb appeal of a really cool looking mattress and choose not to wonder what's inside, whether or not it's soaked in formaldehyde or made with the same foam you'd use to pack your bar glasses the next time you move. Essentially, a mattress is a big block of something with a pretty exterior.

You trust what you are seeing, and reading. Slick web sites that are silently telling you that it's just not cool to not own one of their beds. The mattress of your dreams always looks fantastic on that amazing web site or in the store, and the setting is always that Manhattan loft with floor to ceiling windows you've always dreamed of, and there's usually a rescued greyhound napping on the mattress, a mug of something warm and wonderful on the night stand, and on and on. You’re being hooked with just a little bit of bait, and then slowly reeled in as you read reviews (which may be real, or not), and see the ads chase you around on social media, whispering over your shoulder, “BUY NOW”. You know, those ads that feel like annoying gnats, buzzing around your head, that you're constantly swatting away.

 

Hey, don’t get me wrong, you may be buying a great mattress. I know a lot of people in the business who create these startup companies with the best intentions. They may not be mattress experts, but they have consulted a few people in the business, learned a little bit about foams and fabric exteriors, create a catchy, totally dope name for their product,  and they might have a really awesome bed.  But the odds are, based on industry experience, that within the first two years of owning these popular bed in a box mattresses, up to 50% are returned because of failure. The trick is to look for some basic red flags.

 The "Layer Cake Effect" is one of many common scams in the mattress industry

Whether you’re in a retail store, with a sea of mattresses in front of you, or you’re online, cruising the internet for the most popular and coolest sounding name for your new bed, the tricks are the same. The classic marketing ploy in the bedding industry is quite simple, really. Being cryptic and not too detailed about the ingredients in the bed you’re considering is part of Selling Beds 101, or as I call it, Cups And Balls 101. For example, let’s say you’re looking at a bed in a box type mattress, you know, one that comes magically rolled up and re-inflates itself in your bedroom, like some mystical hot air balloon. Most of these mattresses are made using synthetic polyurethane foam layers, which can range in quality from absolute crap to pretty amazing. Retailers have plenty up their sleeve though, when you start nosing around a store or a web site.

Other than innerspring mattresses, air beds, or water beds, almost all other beds these days are made using these laminated layers of foam material. There are literally thousands of foam options and configurations which can be used in mattress design. Thousands of different thicknesses, densities, and methods of shaping or trimming (wave patterns, etc). BUT, amazingly, there are only three basic kinds of foam that are typically used. And remember one thing that I tell everyone..you're not going to eat your mattress or make love to it, you're going to sleep on it. 

These three basic kinds of foam are latex rubber, memory foam, and a synthetic foam material referred to in the industry as polyurethane foam, also known as HD or HR foam (high density and high resiliency, respectively, but we’ll just call them synthetic foam for simplicity’s sake). If a company is using esoteric names like "Dreamfoam", "Ultrafoam", or "Plushfoam", you can be sure that it's merely marketing fluff, and don't be afraid to ask whether or not the material is polyurethane foam, urethane (memory) foam, or latex rubber, or a combination. It's likely that these proprietary ingredients are acceptable, since these companies generally work tirelessly to improve the materials they are using to reduce return rates, typically the most costly component of any mattress business offering generous return policies. Inquire as to the density of these foams. I recommend densities on top of the mattress you're considering made using foam with at least 2.2 lbs density  (the weight of a cubic foot of the material) to deliver proper support and cushiness. This density is pretty standard, and is essential to provide uplifting and decent support without bottoming into the material beneath. The bottom layers, or support layers, should be more dense, let's say in the 4-5 lb density. Another unit of measurement for foam mattresses is something called ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, which is the amount of weight it takes to depress one cubic foot of foam 25% of its original height of 12", when a solid plate is applied to a one square foot area. You should look for ILD's of 30-35 for bottom, supportive layers.

Keep in mind though, that most beds are built for and designed to accommodate folks within a weight range of 100-210 lbs. If you're over that weight, you should consider a specialized foam mattress using densities that are higher. There are now several online stores that make mattresses strictly for larger people. Highly niche, but addressing a real need for bigger sleepers- a growing segment of our population. Couples who weigh in at more than 200 lbs. each and buy the typical bed in a box or even coil type bed from a local retailer, often find themselves swallowed hole in the bowl formed by the bodies in the center of their mattress, only to return it within weeks.

Another popular kind of bedding component, typically referred to as Memory Foam, also called “visco-elastic foam”, is an amazing material that I believe is the true staple ingredient of any foam or bed in a box type mattress. Technically, it is urethane foam, manufactured using a special technique that creates a vast network of permeable bubbles, that move air in and out very slowly, thus giving it a very unique feel. If you like that wonderful “melting in” feel that it is known for, and have pressure issues, definitely consider it within the recipe of the mattress. Made originally by NASA for use in fighter aircraft seats for shock absorption, it should be close to the top in the mattress you are considering, so you get the best benefit, and memory foam should be at least 4lb. density or higher, as it will last longer, will not be likely to form indentations, and will be supportive and quite yielding. Memory foam that is 3lb. density, commonly used in these kinds of mattresses, simply won't hold up. I've seen poorer grades of memory foam split and crack simply due to body movement on a bed.

Memory foam is used in about half of the most popular mattresses sold today. Great stuff, just make sure it at least 2 inches thick, and is flat, not corrugated or “wavy”, as this weakens the supportive qualities of the material. It also works well with our next ingredient, latex rubber. Chat with or call your potential retailer and make sure you’re getting the best memory foam available. Memory foam is often given mysterious names, without any technical description, including density, which is critical. If a mysterious layer of foam used in a mattress you’re considering is called “Sparklyfoam”, don’t be nervous, but ask questions and find out what it is. The minute you do that, you’ll be respected further and whether in a store or chatting online, you’re in charge at that point.

Latex rubber foam has been around longer than almost any other foam material used in bedding. Sears sold pure latex rubber mattresses back in the late 50’s, and millions of Americans hauled them home over the next 30-40 years. Latex went through a bit of a dormant phase when synthetic foam came along, but then enjoyed a renaissance as more consumers sought out cleaner, greener, all natural ingredients for their beds.

 

Latex is purely wonderful stuff, bordering on frigging amazing. Hand collected, and then converted from liquid to a solid sumptuous and jiggly form, it’s great for a lively, buoyant, and uplifting feel. If you are considering a latex mattress or a mattress with latex in it, make sure you are getting pure latex, and not synthetic latex, as the natural material is livelier, lasts longer, and it won’t yellow and dry out over time. If it’s in a mattress you’re looking at, make sure you get 2” at least, at or near the top (especially if its mixed with synthetic foam) and if you’re looking at a hybrid bed (any bed that has one or two different kinds of material adjacent to one another, meaning practically every mattress out there these days) make sure it’s right above or below memory foam if you want both ingredients.

Probably the most interesting qualities about all natural latex material is that is naturally anti-microbial, resists dust mites, won't collapse or indent over time due to its cellular structure, and is great for tossers and turners because it pushes up and to the side, allowing for easy turning without waking you up. It's kind of like spreading pizza dough on a pan, it distributes its load sideways instead of down, and you tend to "float" above it.

Ask and make sure you’re getting either pure latex, either Dunlop latex, or natural Talalay, and not a blend. Often there is no distinction made between the pure, more expensive foam, and the cheaper synthetic version. Call or chat with your potential retailer. Much longer lifespan, and better bounce! 

The most deceptive practices are used with synthetic foam materials (the HD and HR foam). Since there is not definitive name for most of this kind of material, retailers will use extreme marketing hype to lure you into buying their bed. But remember, synthetic foam is the cheapest, most economical material a manufacturer can use to build out the bed at minimal cost. Thus in the mattress design world, it is typically used as the bottom foundation or base layers, with the more costly materials, like pure latex or memory foam, stacked above it. Most bedding designers also refer to it as “filler foam”, meaning it’s there merely to add height, not comfort to the bed. Generally synthetic foam is white or grey, and can be sculpted or cut to form unique patterns, making it seem more desirable.

With synthetic foams, try to find out exactly what the density and ILD of the material is.  Midrange ILD’s of 28-32 should always be used for layers of foam towards the middle and bottom of any hybrid mattress. Again, inquire about the ILD of the material and make sure you are getting the good stuff.

So there you have it, a quick, down and dirty guide that turns back the curtain, and empowers you when shopping online for a hybrid mattress made with several kinds of foam, or a foam mattress which contains strictly polyurethane material, like the most popular big selling brands use. It’s really not that hard to find excellent ingredients that will increase the lifespan of a reasonably priced bed. The same practices apply to innerspring mattresses and the foam used above or below the coil unit, but we get into that on our innerspring mattress review page. Don't be afraid to ask for very specific information about the ingredients used, their densities, even their sources. For example, cheaper foam mattresses may include inferior Chinese foam, which is not regulated or manufactured in factories that meet western standards. Companies that manufacture excellent latex, and high density polyurethane and urethane foams in the United States include highly established firms like Carpenter, Foamex, Elite, Certi-Pur, Cocolatex (Indian latex), and Arpico (Sri Lankan latex). If you are chatting online or speaking with a sales person in a retail store who know their component manufacturers by name, you can bet with certainty that their product likely is of high quality. 

 

2. The “Comfort” Scam and the layer cake effect

If you are lucky enough to get the details on a mattress' construction, the next step would be to lie down on some mattresses to see which one might be comfortable for you. But, again the mattress industry is ahead of you - unfortunately, for many mattresses, the feel and comfort of the mattress in the store just isn't what you can expect on that particular mattress in your own home. And these days, so many people are buying online because of the convenience and bold guarantees and trial periods that it’s easy to click and buy, but there is a risk that the description you read online, doesn’t translate to the product that shows up at your door.

  • Mattress manufacturers use layers of comfort material (foam, cotton batting, etc.) on the top of the mattress to give it a nice comfortable, even luxurious feel. But they have found that they can stuff the mattress towards the bottom using relatively inexpensive ingredients and layer them to get the same comfortable feel of a more expensive bed made of the good stuff (high density synthetic foam, natural latex, or high quality memory foam). This way, the mattress manufacturer makes a lot more money on a mattress, since the lower quality filler material cost a lot less than the good stuff. An example of the crappiest filler material I've ever seen are pads made from shredded garment fiber and melted plastic. Essentially, it's a door mat, but it provides filler and consumes space, making a mattress appearing taller and thus giving it a higher perceived value. Ideally a mattress from 8-11 inches in height can be successfully built for proper comfort and support, if the manufacturer has really put the time and energy into designing the bed using the myriad of materials available today.                                                                                                                  
  • Also, because of the layering scam I mentioned, manufacturers or retailers who fabricate their own products often use very similar ingredients in the design of multiple models. In today's highly competitive online marketplace for beds, newbie companies will typically create one startup model to get things going. With good marketing and lots of "reviews", and getting published in the WSJ, Gizmodo, the New York Times, etc, it quickly becomes the hottest mattress out there. To increase volume, diversification is an absolute must, since a saturation level is soon reached with the prototype mattress. The next logical progression is to create a new, upgrade version of the original, accomplished by merely pulling out one layer, and integrating a new layer into the recipe, or even simply switching the position of the two top layers, and dying the top layer a mint green or apricot orange. Thus, the
    "layer cake effect". Incredibly, even though the ingredients in the two mattresses are basically the same kind of foam, the newer model will have a step up price, and the typical scenario for these companies is to offer three beds, good-better-best, and then leave it that. More than three models generally confuses customers. So, before you spring for the "best" version, chat or speak to someone and ask them to give you as much technical information they can about the differences in the top layers, their features and benefits, the lifespan of the material, anything to clearly differentiate and justify the higher cost. Typically, the first model is always going to be your best value.                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  • Some materials either take time to break in or they may be harder or softer in different environments. An example of this kind of problem is the components used in memory foam mattresses (both the dense "core" support foam layer and the memory foam top layers). In a show room, a memory foam mattress may feel pretty comfortable, but often people find that the new bed that arrives at their home is much firmer. This is because the core support foam layers near the bottom have not been broken in unlike the one in the store, which was broken in from all the previous customers that were lying on the bed. Another variation of this has to do with the memory foam layers. Some memory foams are much firmer at certain temperatures - even temperatures just a bit below 70 degrees. So the memory foam mattress that felt great in the store, where it is a cozy 75 degrees under bright spotlights, may end up feeling hard and unforgiving when you get it home to your 70 or 68 degree bedroom.

What you need to realize is that you can only tell so much about a mattress in the showroom or from online visuals - and that the feel of the mattress at home may be very different. This means that it really is vitally important to understand what's in the mattress and to make sure you have a bulletproof return and trial period to be be sure the mattress works for you, but beware, that's sometimes a misty, hazy area where retailers can corner you.

It takes an average of just one week for most people to decide that their new bed is comfortable, but up to six months to determine that there is something about it that doesn't work. Remember that.

Since it may take a bit of time for the different layers to break in, you need to be able try it out for a period of time - it can take a month or even two for some of the denser core foam layers to really break in. But that isn't a problem, right? The retailer always has a "money back guarantee". That is where they might just get you…just make sure that you have a solid trial period of at least 90 days, and something in writing that says you can get a full refund...not just an in-store credit. It takes an average of just one week for most people to decide that their new bed is comfortable, but up to six months to determine that there is something about it that doesn't work. Remember that.

A little more on what we talked about above, just because it is such a sinister marketing methodology in the bedding business. The layer cake effect (cups and balls) is a scam that the bedding industry has been using for generations. Basically, imagine three different layers of foam, let's say. One might be high density polyurethane foam, another might be latex, and another might be gel or memory foam. By switching the positions of each of the three layers, you can create nine different mattresses. In some cases, the mattress with the latex layer on top, using a fancier outer cover, and called a "latex hybrid", might cost $1,000. In another case, take the same three layers and swap out the position of the latex, instead putting the gel foam on top, and again using a different outer cover, the price might be even higher for the "gel foam hybrid", and cost $1,500. And there would be seven other variations that you might find on one showroom floor! The way to get around this scam is to simply ask questions about the ingredients, how they are configured and compare online with other brands..not within the same brand. You'll likely find a similarly designed mattress at a better price if you do your homework.

 

3. The “Money Back Guarantee” Scam

With most online mattress dealers, you’re not going to find returning a mattress to be a real problem, thanks to at least some transparent reviews written by actual customers, that have transformed the landscape of online shopping. It used to be that dealers and even brick and mortar retailers had no fear about returns and stringent policies with so called comfort guarantees, and could easily fend you off with some swordplay if you complained by using the classic “comfort trial” scheme..here’s how it worked, and in smaller towns with limited retail store availability, it can still be a problem.

guarantee.jpg

Generally, this problem is more insidious in brick and mortar stores than online. So, what you thought was your perfect mattress the first few nights, suddenly is no longer comfortable, say, after two weeks. You can take it back to the retailer or arrange to have the mattress picked up by a shipper after going through the return process online if you bought it from an e-commerce site, and get your money back - right?  Not exactly.. In many cases, what you will find instead is that the retailer will let you exchange the mattress for another of equal value. You may have to pay delivery charges all over again or you might get a store credit if no other mattress suits your taste. Make absolutely sure that you have a defined trial period, in writing, or electronically accessible, and that you get a full and complete refund, credited back to your credit card or by rebate check, should you decide the mattress does not work for you.

But in many cases, at a brick and mortar store, an in store credit is often the practice, particularly with smaller independent retailers. It keeps the money in-house, and rest assured, you will not easily get your money refunded to you. It’s one of the old school, bedrock principles that the mattress industry has been built on – that there are no money back trials on a mattress. For most brick and mortar dealers, the idea of a money back guarantee is almost physically painful. What would they do with the mattresses that came back? Mattress retailers have to dispose of the beds, legally, and cannot resell them. It's a hard economic hit that any retailer just doesn't want to take. 

More and more though, brick and mortar stores are starting to pony up and offer the same or even better return policies than their internet counterparts, just to stay in business. Stores are offering no questions asked trial periods for as long as a year, and online, retailers are even offering “lifetime guarantees” in big print, but in the fine print you may find that there are strict limitations on how long you can get a full refund vs. a pro-rated refund. Read everything...don't take the sales person's word for it.

So ask upfront - can I get my money back if I don't like the mattress? If there is a chance that they would offer this, ask if they would have any fees they might take out such as a restocking fee, or any requirements about the mattress such as it has to be in new re-sellable condition, which in reality means they will never take it back (since a dealer can't legally re-sell a used mattress). Bottom line - you really need to watch your back on this one. I've talked with lots of people that ended up eating the cost of their mattress, and sometimes more than one, when their new, expensive mattress ended up being uncomfortable. With any internet transaction, you’re going to be in pretty good shape, with a decent trial period (I suggest at least 90 days) and 100% no questions asked refunds. Yep, it’s a good time to buy a mattress and have your rear end covered.

 

4. The “Innerspring” Scam

Another mattress industry classic is the innerspring mattress scam. What most people in the U.S. consider the standard mattress - the innerspring or coil mattress - just isn't inherently a comfortable bed.

If you think about it for a minute you'll understand what I mean. Sleeping on a bunch of steel springs by themselves just doesn’t even sound comfortable, right? Steel is a pretty unforgiving substance, and even when you put it in coil form it still isn't something you are going to want to lie down on all night. The technology is about 150 years old, using the old single component, one piece, rack type system, where the piece is merely stuffed in between a couple of layers of foam or fill material.

Often that filler material is a layer of shredded garment fiber mixed with plastic that I mentioned earlier to give the mattress added height, and thus higher perceived value. The conventional coil rack unit does not respond to your body like a layer of latex or memory foam will, but rather is more like a stiff raft, with no differentiating between areas need more support or more softness.

As the years have gone by since the introduction of the innerspring mattress, people have demanded a more comfortable and luxurious feeling bed. As a result, innerspring mattresses have become absolutely gigantic in size because of all the comfort layers that manufacturers put on their mattresses to overcome the inherently uncomfortable steel spring core of the mattress. Plushy pillow tops and detachable duvets may seem like nice added features in a mattress, but I believe it’s merely another variation of a phenomenon in the business called “piling on”, that is, overbuilding a mattress with features that don’t offer any real benefit. 

This has gotten completely out of control in the last 10 years or so. While the average thickness of a mattress used to be 6 inches, maybe 8 inches if it was "plush", now innerspring mattresses routinely clock in at 12 - 14 inches or more. And they weigh exponentially more than they used to as well, since they are double the height and use denser comfort layers of synthetic foam. And, guess who pays for increased shipping cost of these titans? That's right, you.

The overbuilding of the innerspring is all due to the inherent design flaw of using an uncomfortable and outdated steel coil structure as the core support feature in a bed. But technology has come a long way since the innerspring mattress was first developed in the 30's, and these days you have lots of options for a more comfortable mattress.

 

That being said, there are some decently engineered coil mattresses, and the technology has greatly improved, thanks to an innovative design change in the use of coils. Pocketed coils have vastly improved the comfort of these kinds of beds, and in fact, when you combine them with the comfort layers we’ve discussed, you can create an amazing mattress that responds with pin point accuracy to pressure and weight, much like the keys on a piano. Great for side sleepers and those with back issues like scoliosis, a pocketed coil system may have 1200 or even 1500 individual coils placed in sequence, held together by fabric hinges so that they are not attached to one another, and therefore each coil responds distinctively to the weight applied against it, thus supporting the body in a cradle like fashion. The pocketed coils can vary in degree of stiffness, too, with stiffer coils found in the areas requiring the most support, like the torso area of the body. Stiffer, more supportive coils may also be found on the edge of the mattress where support is needed for transfer, or for sitting on the edge of your bed.

If you are going to checkout an innerspring or coil mattress, definitely consider a pocketed coil option as your best alternative. A few comfort layers in the mattress, above the coils, like latex or memory foam, is also an asset to don’t want to pass up.

5. The so-called "third party" review scam- plague of the industry

As we speak, there is a disease in the mattress industry worse than any other deceptive business practice you could imagine. It's reared it's ugly head in the last few years as competition as heated up. Shopping for a mattress is a laborious process, unless you're making a bee line to a particular brand. Comparing mattresses is like the old cups and balls magic trick, and is burdened with cryptic terminology and fanciful advertising and videos and TV ads, making an actual decision very tough. The players in the business are keenly aware of this. They'll do or say anything to get you to the cart and click BUY NOW. And the most effective way to get you there? Reviews. Real, fake, a nice blend, it doesn't matter.

Almost all mattress shoppers, whether buying online or in retail stores, bank on reviews as being a driving force in their decision making process. In fact, review sites are designed to be the rosetta stone for decoding which mattress you might buy.  As we have described above, selecting the right mattress is more mind numbing than buying a computer or a car, and mattress web sites have used this tool to their advantage, even to the point of absolute unscrupulous behavior. Review web sites have popped up everywhere, crowding the first page of search results when you use terms like "best mattress" or "most comfortable bed". Even worse, many larger mattress companies have paid these review sites to post favorable reviews, and plenty of savvy entrepreneurs have made millions operating these fake review web sites. In fact, fake reviews have become such a problem, that the FTC has began to look into the all of the real estate on the web being consumed by these predators. The fact is, many of the popular review sites are largely completely bogus.

If you want true, third party reviews, there are a few tips you can rely on to make sure you are looking at real reviews, not cherry picked reviews that run down the page, all having five gold stars, with no outside link to view the reviews away from the web site. If you don't clearly see a recognizable third party review link along with the reviews, you should be very skeptical. Here is a list of the top legitimate, third party review sites that would assure that what you are reading was written by actual owners, not the retailer. Also, these sites do not accept money from mattress dealers which would negatively affect the review sampling. We conducted our own proprietary research to create this list. Our personal favorite is SleepLikeTheDead.Com. For years, they have put forth honest, unbiased reviews, without whoring themselves out to retailers. We have zero affiliation with them, but regard them as one of the few truly independent review sites. Forget any other review site- except this list:

  • Yelp 
  • Power Reviews
  • Trust Pilot
  • Sleep Like The Dead- highly recommended
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Consumer Reports

Another red flag is reading reviews on any web site that does not allow you to click a link to take you to the third party review platform outside the site. Many of the large companies these days feel that their brand is so strong, that using third party review platforms is irrelevant. And, of course, many of these "reviews" are always going to be listed as five star, or at least 4.5 stars, with very few reviews ranking in the three to one star category. 

A third party site will also allow you to sort the reviews, from best to worst, or worst to best. If you cannot find a method of reading reviews for any retailer in the worst to best ranking scenario, you have good reason to be highly concerned about the quality of the reviews you are reading. A general rule of thumb is to avoid reading any reviews on the actual site, and search outside, preferably using the recommended sites we offered above. Also, note that you won't find one single review on this web site. When the FTC comes down on the deceptive practices and endless web sites that Google will soon remove from search results, we want to be there for you. Note that we do allow banner ad placement for select partners, but we do not REVIEW their products. 

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