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Tips for Buying a Mattress

Kathy McCleary's tips for buying a new mattress.

Do Your Homework,, and all offer a wealth of information, including customer reviews and detailed explanations on mattress construction. Most manufacturers’ web sites (Sealy, Simmons, Serta) offer buying guides, with specific product info such as coil count (the number of coils contained in an innerspring mattress), the type of padding used, type of coils (individually pocketed vs. tied together), and other details. With this year’s line Simmons has put all the specs for each mattress onto a large two-foot wide vinyl streamer across the foot of the bed. The streamer includes information about coil count, the type of foam used and edge support.

"Some of our dealers weren’t that crazy about it, but we wanted to make the consumer shopping experience better," says Simmons’ Whitaker. "The floor samples come from the factory with the streamers on, so salespeople can’t misinform the customer about what’s in the bed. It’s like a cheat sheet."

Whitaker suggests figuring out what construction details are important to you (more coils generally mean more support, individually pocketed coils mean you won’t feel your partner’s movements as much) then walk into a store armed with that information.

Shop at a Reputable Dealer
If a store is offering a price that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And if it’s a store that’s only been open a few months, it might not be there in a few months if you have a problem with your mattress.

Check for Quality
A former mattress salesperson on suggests lifting up the corners of mattresses to feel the weight. "Weight in a mattress is directly proportional to how well it will hold up in the long run," he says. It makes sense. A heavier mattress will likely contain more coils made with heavier gauge wire – the hallmarks of a quality mattress.

Read Everything in Sight
That includes those "Do Not Remove..." tags on the mattress, the contract, the store’s refund policy and the warranty. Kay says she often gets cases in which customers are told one thing about returns by the salesperson, but then later are refused a refund or exchange.

"Make sure you don’t take the salesperson’s word," she says. In Virginia, state law requires that refund policies be "conspicuously posted." Kay is pursuing one mattress retailer now whose refund policy is scrawled in small letter written in thin pen and posted in a dark corner of the store.

Similarly, read the contract to make sure that whatever terms you have agreed to regarding returns, terms of delivery and such are there in writing. "Make sure the model, manufacturer and price are on the contract," Kay says, "and whether you’re getting a foundation or box spring. If it’s all itemized, then if there’s a dispute, the contract tells the truth."


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