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October 18, 2012

Buying a Mattress

In the quest for a restful nights' sleep, my husband I have began shopping for a replacement for our 13 year old mattress over Labor Day. Maybe it is the result of aging joints or thinning skin or a touch of trochanteric bursitis, but it is no longer comfortable for me to sleep in my favorite position, lying on my left side. I've actually resorted to partial stomach sleeping, wrapped around a pillow to take the stress off of my neck.

Unfortunately, shopping for a mattress is much like shopping for a car. There is as much bamboozling, price checking, deal making/breaking going on the back room as a car dealership. That is, when you can actually find a salesperson to help you. We've looked in our local department store where the mattress section is a spare area relegated to the basement: dingy and poorly lit.

Here was my experience at a local chain. I walk in, knowing there are 2 mattress models that I like in extra firm and a maximum allowance in mind. The salesperson, a soft-spoken person named Alex, recognizes me from prior snooping around. I ask about prices on the two models, try them out, and for unfamiliar term, I ask what that means so that I can compare and contrast features appropriately. Then I asked about a mattress we saw on-line and he pointed out one on the floor that was this-year's equivalent. It just happened to be on sale.

The problem is that there is one mattress that I really like, that actually does not hurt my back, but it is way out of our price range. After a bit of toggling back and forth between the adequate mattress and the "good" mattress, he asks the question that sinks my ship, "what is the top price you are willing to spend on a mattress?" And, me, with a complete lack of a poker face and an almost pathological inability to lie (I blame my parents), I sing like a canary. Ugh.

And here is where the nonsense starts. Suddenly, kind Alex, has an idea - he can check the overstock supplies from the last holiday sale and see if there are any of those mattresses at the warehouse in our size that he can find at a discount. Good news! There are two of them and he can get us the mattress for just $200 above our spending limit, tax, tags, and deliver and take away our old mattress - a whopping 38% reduction in the original asking price! What a deal!

But he can only lock in that price until the end of the day. Then his boss says, "no way, the warehouse in another state won't ship to our region because they've had problems with damage in the past" - the deal seems lost, and I'm willing to walk away because I knew it was too good to be true. But, kind Alex, says he feels bad, he didn't know that and that's not fair to me. He's willing to honor that price from a local warehouse so that I can get the bed that I really want, the one that does not make my back hurt.

When we get home, my husband put the kaibash on the whole deal, saying we got the hard sell. The psychology of consumerism is designed to pull at you, convincing you that just $200 over your budget for such an important purchase is minimal. What is even more aggravating about buying a mattress that is not present when buying a car, is that there is no way to compare prices across several stores for the same product, because mattress manufacturers do not stock the same beds in different stores - they are all unique to the different chains.

So we are back to trolling the web, comparing different features such as firmness, number of coils, different cushioning materials, et cetera. I don't know when we'll actually get a bed. I'm guessing it will be another couple of months.

Posted by linda at October 18, 2012 5:38 AM

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