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Mattress Ratings > Buying a Mattress Online
Unbiased Research Based on Data From 17,000 Actual Owners
Many believe there is high risk in buying a mattress online because it often requires buying a mattress untried – that is, without an opportunity to lie on it first.
Our research involving over 17,000 mattress owners shows, however, that owner satisfaction is similar whether people try a mattress before buying or not.
In other words, statistically speaking, for people overall as a group there is little increased risk of being dissatisfied from buying a mattress online.
This was determined by comparing the owner satisfaction rates of mattresses that can only be bought online without first trying them in a showroom with the owner satisfaction rates of similar mattresses that are widely available in showrooms. The results show little difference in owner satisfaction.
The table below compares owner satisfaction of people who tried a mattress in a showroom before buying versus those who bought a mattress untried online.
|Mattress Type||Owner Satisfaction of People Who Tried Mattress in Showroom Before Buying||Owner Satisfaction of People Who Bought Mattress Untried Online|
* The higher owner satisfaction for latex mattresses bought untried online is likely due to the fact that the higher-rated latex mattresses tend to be sold primarily online, while lower-rated ones are often sold in showrooms.
Our research suggests three reasons why owner satisfaction tends to be similar whether people try a mattress before buying or buy online untried.
First, people who buy online tend to be more informed as consumers than those who do not buy online. In other words, people who buy online often do significant research which may include testing in a showroom a mattress similar to the one they are considering buying online. As a result, online buyers tend to know that the mattress they are buying will likely suit them even without trying it first.
Second, lying on a mattress in a showroom does not appear to be an accurate "test drive" in a significant number of cases. About 20% of mattress owners who try a mattress in a showroom before buying it soon report being dissatisfied with the mattress and say they made a mistake in their choice.
Their mistaken choice seems to be due to the fact that a mattress in a showroom may or may not be broken in depending on how many people have lied on it. A mattress that is not broken in can feel significantly firmer than one that is broken in. If a person chooses a non-broken in mattress based on the belief that this is how it will feel long term, they may soon be disappointed when the mattress they receive breaks in and becomes significantly softer.
Third, their mistaken choice may also be due to the fact that mattresses, even ones of the same model and specifications, can have their own individual characteristics and "feel" to some degree due to inconsistencies in materials and manufacturing. (This tends to be especially true for memory foam beds and latex beds.) As a result, a person may receive a mattress that feels different (worse) to them than the one they tried in the store.
(See the mattress retailer comparison for online mattress retailer ratings.)
You can shop and buy in the comfort of your home anytime.
You do not have to deal with mattress salespeople, some of whom can be pushy.
Mattress retailers who operate exclusively online know that people perceive greater risk in buying from them because they cannot try the mattress before buying.
As a result, these retailers often attempt to remove the perceived risk by having generous return policies.
For example, unlike most showroom retailers, online retailers tend to offer not only the ability to exchange a mattress but also the option of a full refund. In addition, showroom retailers usually make the customer pay a fee for returning the mattress, while online retailers sometimes provide free return shipping.
Given that retailers often sell the same or similar mattresses under different names can make comparing retailers' prices difficult. Nevertheless, our research estimates that mattress prices at an online retailer are on average about 15% less than the asking prices at a showroom retailer.
It should be noted, however, that showroom retailers will sometimes negotiate on price, effectively making their price equal to that of online retailers.
If you buy from a showroom retailer, you will likely have to pay sales tax. If you buy online and the mattress comes from out of state, you can avoid the tax.
Both online and showroom retailers may offer free delivery, but free delivery tends to be somewhat more common with online retailers.
Possible Price Example: Online Retailer Vs Showroom Retailer
The example below is for fictitious Mattress X. It shows that significant savings are possible by buying online, especially if the showroom retailer charges tax and delivery, while the online retailer does not.
|MATTRESS X||Online Retailer||Showroom Retailer|
|Sales Tax||$0||$101 (7%)|
While online retailers may be more generous with their return policies, getting the mattress back to them may be more of a hassle than is the case with showroom retailers. When you send back a mattress to a showroom retailer, they often send out their own truck and simply take the mattress out of your house. It couldn't be easier.
But when you want to send a mattress back to an online retailer, the shipping method is usually FedEx or UPS. This means that your mattress will need to be prepared for shipping by you which may include wrapping and or boxing the mattress. If the mattress is dirtied or damaged during return shipping, the retailer may not provide a full refund.
More information: Returning a Mattress: What You Should Know.
Showroom mattress retailers often will take away your old mattress at little or no cost when they deliver your new one. Some online retailers offer this service (usually at an additional cost), but most do not. So you will need to find your own way to dispose of your old and likely heavy mattress. Talk to your city or local waste management (garbage takeaway) company to see if they will take it from your curb. Some people report that they are embarrassed at leaving their old mattress at the curb for the neighborhood to see.
A good, experienced mattress salesperson can provide you with valuable personalized help and insight in selecting the best mattress. Such help tends to not be available when buying online, but some online retailers may provide online assistance from a live person.
While online mattress retailers only occasionally negotiate on price, showroom retailers are more likely to budge.
Sleep Like The Dead compared owner satisfaction of mattresses that can only be bought online without first trying them in a showroom with owner satisfaction of similar mattresses that are widely available in showrooms.
The results show little difference in owner satisfaction.
Advantages of buying online tend to include convenience, less pressure, better return policies and a lower price.
Disadvantages of buying online may include the hassle of returning the mattress, no old mattress haul-away, no or limited salesperson assistance and no or limited price negotiation.
IN THE NEWS: Sleep Like The Dead's research findings have appeared in such news publications as Barron's • Toronto Star • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Edmonton Journal • Woman's World • The Consumerist • The Gazette • Ottawa Citizen
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