Dishonest Mattress Salesman Tricks to Watch Out For

Disclosure: This site receives a payment from Amazon or US Mattress when you purchase a product using any links to that company in this article.

Rightly or wrongly, mattress salesmen have a reputation akin to that of used car salesmen. Not every mattress salesman fits this stereotype, but they are out there. I strive every day to be as open and honest with my customers as possible. Sadly, many of my colleagues and competitors aren’t so scrupulous. 

Shady Salesman

It’s got lots of coils ‘n stuff. Trust me.

To help combat this, I’ve put together a list of a few things a dishonest mattress salesperson might say as you’re out mattress shopping. Hopefully, if more people are aware of these tricks, they’ll stop working and the salespeople will stop using them.

You need to buy this mattress protector, or your warranty is voided

This is one I’ve heard coworkers say and it makes me cringe every time. While I do STRONGLY recommend using a mattress protector for many reasons, not buying one from the store does not void your warranty. A mattress protector will help preserve your warranty, whether you buy it from the store or you go home later and buy it from Amazon.com, but it’s not required for the warranty. If your salesperson tries to strongarm you into buying a protector from him by lying, what else is he lying about?

You need to buy a boxspring in order to have a warranty

Similar to the mattress protector scenario, you don’t necessarily need to buy a boxspring to qualify for a warranty. For example, you can put your mattress on the floor, you can use a platform bed, or you can put it on a storage foundation and still keep your warranty. You can read more about the need for a boxspring here.

We have a few mattresses left over from a holiday sale/cancelled hotel order/inventory error, etc. Buy one now or you’ll never get this price again.

There are a near infinite number of ways a salesman can word this one. Here’s how it usually works.

Customer: Do you have a card? I need to sleep on it (ha ha, get it?) before making a purchase

Slimy Salesman: Sure, let me give you a written price on the model you liked. Oh, the system says there’s an inventory error, let me call a manager to check on this.

Customer: …

Slimy Salesman: Great news! My manager tells me we have 2 mattresses left from [insert limited offer here] at an amazing price! If you want to reserve one now, you can get that price. Otherwise, they’ll be gone by the time you come back.

So what’s going on here? A few things are at work. First, the salesman wants to earn your business right now, and price is the most common objection, so he wants to drop price. But, he doesn’t want you to know that he can just arbitrarily reduce the price at will, so he calls a manager to do it, and they come up with a vaguely plausible reason that the price is lower. Additionally, they want it to be a limited offer that you have to act on now to prevent you from shopping around.

The reality is that the price they offered is not on any special merchandise. Inventory management doesn’t work that way. There isn’t a separate section in the warehouse that mattresses reserved for a sale or for a trade show or whatever else are stored. If a company legitimately does have too much stock on something, it’s just mixed in with the rest of it at the same price.

So, if the price offered to you is legitimately good enough, and you’re tired of shopping and negotiating, feel free to buy it. But don’t buy it just because you think it’s a limited offer. It’s not. You could come in a month later and that price will likely still be honored.

Important caveat: On certain products, like the Serta iSeries or Tempurpedic, there is a minimum price the retailer is allowed to sell it for, and during some holiday sales, the manufacturer reduces that minimum selling price. For example, this past Labor Day 2014, Serta offered a free boxspring with the purchase of any of their mattresses, and the retailers were allowed to match that. The day that promotion ended, that sale offer legitimately expired. If a customer tried getting that price the next day, they were unlikely to get it.

The shady part is when the salesman invents some fictional sale to try to pressure you into buying now. Take the salesman’s reduced offer and continue to shop around with that if you have the time and inclination.

Overselling the mattress warranty

There seems to be a lot of warranty-related ones here. When a salesman says a product has a warranty of a certain length, verify that it’s a non-prorated warranty. An honest salesman will tell you right up front, “this product has a 10 year full warranty followed by a 10 year prorated warranty.” Or they’ll just say it has a “10 year warranty.” A dishonest salesman will tell you “This product has a 20 year warranty!” and then leave off the details that the last 10 years in the warranty don’t really count.

Why don’t I really count the prorated warranty? Let’s say you spend $1,000 on a mattress. If it has a 20 year full warranty, if it starts sagging or a coil breaks or something in year 18, you get a new mattress for free, or you at least get the full purchase price back to help reselect. On the other hand, if you have a 20 year prorated warranty and the mattress breaks, you only get $100 back to help reselect. There’s a big difference.

Again, honest salespeople will be up front about that difference. Dishonest salespeople will try to oversell it.

We’re having a huge sale! This model usually retails for $4,500, and it’s on sale for $1,500!

A disturbing number of places have fake “retail” prices or “list” prices that the product has never sold at. Department stores are the worst offenders, but some mattress specialty stores have started doing this as well. Pay little attention to the regular retail price of an item. There’s a psychological trick known as Anchoring that some retailers try to abuse to make you think you’re getting a good deal. The idea is that your brain latches onto the first piece of information you get about something you’re making a decision on. In this case, it’s the fake “retail” price. Your brain sees this high price, and “anchors” your expectations that the price is a legitimate one.

price anchoring at a department store

This is an example of price anchoring at a department store. Notice the weird “regular prices” ending in 7.50 that were invented just to pretend that the regular price is 60% off.

In most cases, a sale that big is not a real sale, and the mattress has never sold for that absurdly high price. Dishonest salespeople will highlight this fake retail price and talk about how great of a deal you’re getting. An honest salesperson will focus on the current price or even acknowledge that the “list” price isn’t the real one.

Conclusion

Luckily, honest salespeople exist, even in the mattress industry. I still maintain it’s best to go into a showroom to try out the mattresses for support and comfort. But, once you find the right mattress, if the salesman creeps you out, don’t be afraid to make the purchase online. Conversely, if you get an honest salesperson, don’t be afraid to give him or her your business and tell your friends.

What other slimy salesman tricks have you run into? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks again for reading.

Disclosure: This site receives a payment from Amazon or US Mattress when you purchase a product using any links to that company in this article.

Related Articles

How to negotiate for the best price on a mattress

Mattress buying guide

Should you buy a mattress online or in store?

What is a mattress warranty?

Do you need a boxspring?

Questions & Comments

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MattressNerd Says

September 14, 2017 at 4:17 pm

That's not a terrible deal. US Mattress still has that one, and it's currently at 878 with a frame (and free delivery, don't know if that was included in Mattress Firm's number). Of course you could've gotten a better deal during Labor Day, but next opportunity like that is in 2 months for Black Friday.

Karen Says

September 12, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Just bought a Beautyrest twin with box springs at Mattress Firm "after" Labor Day sale. The 50% sale was over, but they offered 40% off the mattress; and I paid $100 for the box springs (was free over Labor Day). With a $39.00 bed frame, my total was $836. The bed is a BAY Spring FPT MATT PRIME, which was introduced in 2015. Over Labor Day, the Queen was $649.99 with a free Box Spring. Am now home but thinking I overpaid. Delivery date is set for Sept. 23, 2017; and I was told I can get a refund anytime before the bed is delivered. What do you think?

MattressNerd Says

July 10, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Companies need to focus on being more than a place to just walk in and make a purchase these days. For example, I'm a big board gaming nerd, and a lot of Friendly Local Gaming Scores are struggling to keep up with Amazon's prices. That's why we're seeing the rise of board game cafes. I don't know exactly what that will look like in the mattress world. Maybe somebody needs to come up with an overnight mattress store where each mattress is in a separate little room, and you can actually sleep on the beds or something crazy like that (I can think of about a dozen different reasons that specific idea might be bad, but it's just a random thought for an example). But, I think mom and pop mattress stores will have to come up with some kind of an angle, not only to compete with online stores, but also to compete with the Mattress Firm behemoth.

Phillip Blanton Says

July 9, 2016 at 7:27 pm

You said, "I still maintain it’s best to go into a showroom to try out the mattresses for support and comfort. But, once you find the right mattress, if the salesman creeps you out, don’t be afraid to make the purchase online. Conversely, if you get an honest salesperson, don’t be afraid to give him or her your business and tell your friends." That's the best advice. I always shop where I can handle the item, then often go online to actually buy. I know this harms the retailers and if enough people do it, will eventually cause them to go out of business; so when I find a salesperson who is honest and provides me with real, actionable information that I didn't have before, and the price is not significantly higher, I always reward them with a purchase. Ultimately though I feel like the Internet will kill specialty retailers. Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Costco will survive, but Ted's Beds is dead.

Tim Says

March 20, 2016 at 1:48 am

Thanks for the reply!

MattressNerd Says

March 13, 2016 at 7:13 pm

It's tough to say. It's weird that they "didn't have any more" but still said you could buy one at retail pricing. We generally sold floor models when an item was discontinued altogether. So, it's possible you could've bought a floor model at a great deal, but it is a little weird that they'd offer a floor model if it's still an active SKU.

Tim Says

March 12, 2016 at 11:58 am

My wife and I were offered one of these great deals at a furniture store where the salesman dropped the price after we inquired because he said they didn't actually have any more there and we would need to either by the floor model for a huge discount or order one at just about their "retail" pricing. I'm not sure what the mattress was but is something like this usual? We didn't buy it but I always wondered if that was a trick or were we really getting a great deal.

j.d.hart Says

February 6, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Cheryl Frushon , which mattress did you buy and do you like it ow , I am just beginning my mattress research for price and quality on a Queen memory foam, thanks for your reply ! [email protected]

MattressNerd Says

January 2, 2016 at 6:00 pm

The world needs more mattress salesmen like you. I worked for a store that did the same thing. They'd keep advertising 50% off, but it was off of the "list price," which the mattress was never sold at. In fact, even if we tried selling it for the "list price," the computer wouldn't even let us because it was too high.

Bill Says

January 2, 2016 at 4:59 pm

I work for Sears mattress shop and I can tell you that the prices on that sign are total BS. I would never tell a customer that that "regular" price was legitimate. It offends me that those signs even exist. We need to start treating consumers like they have some intelligence.

cheryl frushon Says

June 14, 2015 at 11:40 am

Loved your information! We are on our way to buy a mattress! Wish us LUCK! I will let you now how we did!

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