Being one who justifies his fanatical comparison shopping by the public good side-effect of keeping markets efficient, I am particularly irked by the tactics of mattress sellers.
As is well known, most mattresses sold in the US are made in a small number of factories. In order to make comparison shopping hard, the mattress provide “unique” product lines to each major retailer. By making minor adjustments to the fabric or something and changing the (almost inevitably ridiculous) model names they sell under, Sealy and the like make price comparison shopping impossible. And they allow each possessor of a 'unique' line to make price-matching guarantees that they know are meaningless since no one else carries goods with the same name.
That's why I'm glad there is a Mattress Comparison Index which (says it) tells you which silly name is comparable to which other silly name.
Even armed with this information there is still a lot of product out there and field testing these things is both ridiculous and not particularly informative. It's easy to dismiss many mattresses as too soft or too hard, but that leaves a large range of choices, about none of which I feel confident about how they will feel in a year.
I wanted to illustrate this with a picture of Li'l Abner in his role a professional mattress tester, but while I could find some of him, there were none of him at work, which somehow seems fitting.
Incidentally, I was surprised to learn that professional mattress testers really exist!
MHL always struck me as a good retailer. Their prices seemed fair and they have (or had) an ‘ask the pro’ blog.
Here in the SF Bay Area, you can buy very fairly priced mattresses directly from a couple of foamcutters (if you like foam), or a nice, major-brand mattress from dirtcheapmattress, who are pretty sketchy, but who will sell for about 1/2 of MHL’s prices — so long as you don’t mind a year-or-two-old model with red “no warranty” stamps all over it. We went with dcm, but we went knowing what the true retail price was (MHL’s) and which mattresses by which makers we liked. I can’t recommend them to anyone not willing to make that kind of effort.
Full retail in that business, though, strikes me as such a scam it makes automobile sales seem respectable.
As shopping sportsman you will need to watch this marvelous video about how mattresses are made:
There the feed for the series that’s from, ignore the most recent one 🙂
Meanwhile, having recently purchased a mattress, I can pass on what I learned. Matresses are the ultimate “blind good,” so there ain’t nothing you can do.
Expect at least a 60% off.
In passing the consumer reports article (which BTY your university library can likely provide a digital copy to) mentioned that older citizens should purchase softer mattresses and I confirm that this is a good thing.
I ended up with a mattress from Ikea; which is clear made in slightly different competitive universe from the america mattress stores.
I enjoyed going to the silly mattress store in town which had fiberoptic stars and where the lights over the matress you were trying out dimmed when you lay on the bed.
er… MHL? What’s that short for?
Mattress Testing… Now i think it’s time for a career change, where do i sign up?
MHL == mattress hotline. That’s your link. They’re a retailer. I haven’t used ’em, but I like their attitude and their prices seem okay.
Ikea’s mattresses give me hives, but in this world more than in most others, to each his own. They are nice and inexpensive, I must say that.
WITH MUCH REGARDS TO YOUR COMPANY SERVICES AND
PRODUCTS.I AM REV. NANA AND WOULD LIKE
TO MAKE A PURCHASE ON 5UNITE KING SIZES OF MATTRESS.
KINDLY SEND ME A RETURN E-MAIL ON WHAT YOU CAN OFFER
WITH PRICES AND AVAILABILITY.
GOD BLESS YOU
That comparison name index doesn’t work any more. There is one at http://www.BeddingHotline.com in the main menu that does work however.
The above link is rather useless unless you are shopping within the brands that are provided at that website, it’s far from a complete list of mattress manufacturers.