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3 psychological loopholes mattress salesmen might use to get you to spend more

mattress buying

Take a moment to think about household investment and ask yourself a simple question,

“What’s the one investment that has the deepest impact on the quality of our lives?”

Is it the TV? The kitchen appliances? The sofa?

We’d argue that nothing comes close to the choice of mattress.

Over the next 10 years, an average person will spend 3.33 years on the mattress of their choice – to put it into perspective, that’s about 9.500 hours.

Furthermore, we won’t even get into the impact proper rest has on the quality of lives we lead and overall health, that’s not what this article is about.

This guide is about not being taken for a ride and getting the shorter end of the proverbial stick when buying a mattress.

The skill of a sale

Since man started living organized communal life, the art of getting the longer end of the stick in a sale has been the most lucrative skills you can master.

We used to exchange fish for crops, clothing for clay…today, we exchange money for products and services.

The e-commerce era

If there’s one positive aspect of what the technological boom has brought forth it’s the ease of communication and the free flow of information.

For the modern consumer, it made the whole process of choosing the right product much easier because it eliminated the guess work. You can simply go online, read the reviews of the product you have your eyes on and see what existing users are saying.

The problem

The benefits of what we mentioned above are limited when you need to buy a product that people don’t usually shop for online – like a mattress.


Any cautious customer will want to try out the surface they’ll be sleeping on for the next 5-10 years.

We usually go to a mattress store and look for what feels right.

The issue is that, if you don’t educate yourself, you can easily fall prey to misleading labels and shady sales techniques.

Today’s article is an attempt to “arm’ you with some of the common sales techniques and marketing lingo used on mattress labels, so let us dive in.

  1. Misleading labels

The issue of the wording on the label and the manual is not limited to the mattress industry. However, the making of a modern mattress is intricate – with the various materials used, thicknesses, densities and whatnots.

The issue becomes worse because there’s no strict regulation in place about the wording on the label.

Below is an example of how you can be misled:

Let’s work with the example of memory foam. The label might say that the foam is “high quality” and brag about the thickness and the density of the foam. The bait and switch here lays in the fact that the density and the thickness DO NOT determine the quality.

The quality of the foam is elusive probably merits an article of its own – for the purposes of this guide, let’s make it simple.

What to look for – what they can hide on the label, they can’t hide in the warranty. Giving a solid warranty on a mattress made of sub-par foam is impossible. Look for a warranty that’s not prorated (meaning that if you claim it the company pays the full cost) and has a low “minimum sag requirement” or doesn’t have one at all (minimum sag requirement means that you can’t claim the warranty unless the sagging of a faulty mattress reaches the minimum set by the company, like the depth of the indentation).

Bottom line – don’t let the salesmen go on and on about the thickness and the density, let them know that they’re dealing with an educated buyer by saying that you want to focus on the terms of the warranty.

Be precise and decisive every time they try to steer the conversation back to vague commonplace points.

  1. Don’t fall for the “Today only” kerfuffle

When was the last time you walked near a mattress store and didn’t see an “ON SALE” sign in huge red letters?

Or visit some of the online retailers and see how many of them don’t make claims that you’re unbelievably lucky to stumble upon a sale.

OH MY. How lucky you are.

Don’t fall for it. If there’s an industry where the prices are jacked up only so that they can offer discounts, it’s the mattress industry.

More subtle and a bit more insidious approach is offering a discount on the spot.

They might say that they just found out that the mattress you’re looking at is the last one of that kind and they might be able to “hook you up” with a discount.

They might say that they have to ask a manager and disappear for a minute. The Manager ALWAYS approved the discount.

Bottom line – this one is not easy to resist. If they manage a to build up a perceived value and then drop the price, spending more than you wanted will suddenly make sense. It’s basic human psychology. Come prepared, do your research and know the price ranges and most importantly, be prepared for the moment when they might reach for the “big guns” like the mattress being the last piece on a 70% discount.

  1. The mattress add-ons

This one is also about the perceived value and relies on the fact that the money we spend $2-3000 we’re much more susceptible to be sold on add-on like a mattress topper or pad.

Never be “blackmailed” into buying something you don’t want. One of the shadier tactics you might see is telling you that the warranty you agreed on is void if you don’t buy an extra protective topper or a protector.

You came for a mattress; don’t leave the store with anything more than a mattress.

Any extras like mattress toppers or pillows should be bought separately. They have their own story and not everybody will find the topper useful. In many cases, the topper you bought will just end up in the closet.

If you are specific about your sleeping needs (like being a particularly cold/ warm sleeper or need the extra support of a topper), it’s always better to do separate research and buy the item separately.


For example, if you are a warm sleeper, you’ll want to look into a cooling mattress topper or pad and not just go with the universal one they try to push on you.

Bottom line – the moment you’re finished talking about the warranty, ask what strings are attached to it and make it clear that you’re not buying anything they think you need. If you still need a topper, choose it separately and make sure it fits your needs.

Final thoughts

Once you’re in the market for a new mattress and you start researching and reading reviews, it can get overwhelming.

The scoop is that it will get more complicated before it becomes very simple – as you start researching about the types and materials keep notes about the price ranges. After the initial research, allow your brain to process the information.

Next time you get to your notes to so some more research – you’ll notice that things are becoming clearer.

Do a few round of cold headed research and include some of the tips we mentioned above into your notes.

The takeaway – once you’re in the store, make sure that you mix up a few points above into the conversation to make it clear that you’re an educated buyer. Once they see that you know your mattresses, the chances of trying to apply some of the common mind games go down (if not dissolve completely).