Four Ways Mattress Companies Deceive You – 2019

When visiting mattress company websites, be aware of the following:

1. Customer Satisfaction Ratings Are Overstated

Don’t take star-rating totals too seriously as they do not in our view reflect true consumer opinion.

Almost all mattress company websites show very high customer satisfaction rating totals. In other words, there are usually tons of five-star reviews, somewhat fewer four-star, far fewer three-star and few (if any) two- and one-star reviews. On average, the overall rating is 4.7 out of 5 stars which is equal to 93% customer satisfaction.

If ratings like this seem too good to be true, that’s because they are. Here are some things to know about customer reviews on mattress company websites.

– Customer reviews are usually collected early in the ownership process, often within the first few weeks or months. The problem here is that mattress owner satisfaction is almost always highest early on, often peaking before six months. This is because 1) the mattress is new and has had little time to develop durability problems, and 2) owner enthusiasm is high given that the new mattress is likely a clear improvement over the at least partially worn mattress that was replaced. A far more accurate assessment of satisfaction would be based on customer opinions collected across the entire span of ownership.

– About 10% of positive reviews on mattress company websites are from customers who, in fact, did not like the mattress but did like the return process; and based on this they gave a positive rating. Mattress companies almost never separate this type of review from reviews for the mattress itself. This is a questionable practice in the opinion of Sleep Like The Dead as mattress shoppers almost always assume that customer ratings are ratings for the mattress itself, not for the return process or “brand experience.”

– At least 10% of mattress owners need to add a topper to the mattress to create acceptable comfort. If the topper is successful, the owner usually gives the mattress a positive rating. Mattress companies do not separate this type of review from reviews that are for the mattress unmodified. This again is a questionable practice in the opinion of Sleep Like The Dead as mattress shoppers almost always assume that customer ratings are ratings for the mattress as sold, not for the mattress plus a topper.

– A significant percentage of mattresses are bought for light or temporary use, including child and guest use. When used in this way, owners tend to rate the mattress higher than they do when it is used by an adult daily. With few exceptions, mattress companies do not separate reviews based on how the mattress is used. This again is a questionable practice as most mattress shoppers assume that customer ratings are ratings for the mattress used daily by at least one adult, not for the mattress used lightly / temporarily.

– Mattress companies control virtually all aspects of review collection and publication, and they likely use this ability in their favor at least slightly. This may include not publishing negative or neutral reviews or changing the star rating given by the customer; while these practices do occur, they do not appear to be widespread.

So just how overstated are customer rating totals on mattress company websites?

Controlling for the above factors – which Sleep Like The Dead has been doing for over 10 years – shows that rating totals on average are overstated by about 22%. In other words, owner satisfaction is actually about 74% on average (3.7 out of 5 stars) – with 82% satisfaction being about the upper limit (4.1 out of 5 stars).

2. Reviews Can Be For A Mattress That No Longer Really Exists

Don’t assume that the reviews for a particular mattress are for the current iteration being sold.

It’s common for a mattress company to change the materials and construction of an existing mattress – sometimes drastically – while keeping the mattress name unchanged. There’s not much harm here. But the company may then continue to use the customer reviews for the previous iteration (as many as thousands of reviews) as reviews for the revised iteration without disclosing this. In the opinion of Sleep Like The Dead, this is deceptive and may cause consumers to buy a mattress based on at least partly outdated reviews.

3. Exaggeration And Hype Are Common

Have healthy skepticism for all mattress company claims and descriptions.

Dismiss as hype or as mere opinion any claim not backed with proof. For example, the claim "our mattress is built to last" should not be taken seriously if no good, specific reason(s) is given to support it. Also dismiss as hype just about any claim that uses a superlative – an adjective that takes a comparison to the highest degree – such as “top”, “best”, “perfect”, “leading”, “most” and anything ending in “-est.”

The use of unqualified and absolute statements is common, and they too should be viewed with skepticism. These include such claims as “side sleepers love our mattress,” "our mattress is ideal for people of any size or weight," and “no more tossing or turning.” While such claims may be true for many or even most owners, they are certainly not true for all owners as the claims imply.

4. No Disclosure Is Given About “Expert Reviewers”

Take with a grain of salt the opinions of mattress review websites that a mattress company refers to.

It’s common for a mattress company to refer to mattress review websites (and possibly their YouTube videos) as seemingly unbiased, expert sources of praise for their mattress. What is almost never revealed is that these websites nearly always have a financial / commission relationship with the mattress company.

Sleep Like The Dead's mattress reviews identify these and other deceptions to help consumers make smart, informed mattress buying decisions.

Sleep Like The Dead's mattress research in The News –

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