Mattress Guides

Dishonest Mattress Salesman Tricks to Watch Out For

By Jack Mitcham

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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.

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.

Is my warranty void if I don’t buy a mattress protector?

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, 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?

Do I need a boxspring to qualify for a mattress 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/canceled 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.

See Also: Mattress store comparison

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, 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 upfront 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.


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.

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Comments (25)

  1. I purchased a new mattress but strongly feel I got their floor model mattress instead. The mattress tag looked wrinkled and old and the tag reflects mattress delivery date of 3/20/17 although I did not purchase the mattress until 10/07/18. I questioned store owner when mattress was
    delivered but was assured it was a new mattress. Is there anyway to prove what I feel as being duped?

  2. Concerning mattress warranties, I bought two mattresses for my kids when I moved into a new house. I purchased one full and one queen at a very low price from Sit and Sleep. My kids (teenagers) started to complain about the comfort of the mattress within in a year or two. Being a busy mom, it took me a while to call the company and have someone come out out and evaluate the mattresses. They had developed dips in the center. A guy came out with measuring devices (felt a bit like an old traveling circus snake oil show) and deemed that my son’s mattress (queen) would have been in need of replacement if it weren’t “dirty.” Why that affected a wear and tear tear claim, I have no idea. My daughter’s wear and tear was not considered significant, but her mattress was princess sparkly. So two crummy mattresses were still in my possession. Be sure to keep a mattress cover on the bed, especially if you have a gross teen-aged boy. Don’t be surprised if the warranty does you absolutely no good. It’s all on the manufacturer, not the store to honor the waranty, and only on their terms. Good luck. I’m searching for a new queen-sized mattress and would really just rather clean toilets. Ugh.

  3. Interesting articles. Thank you for the information. I was offered a discounted price on a floor model Beauty Rest mattress made for Mattress Firm while I was shopping in the showroom. The list price for this mattress bought brand new was around $3400, and the final cost of the floor model mattress with a mattress protector and sales tax etc is about $1000. There is no warranty and no trial period with this mattress. Is it worth it?
    Thank you,

    • That all depends on your risk tolerance. There is maybe a ~1/40 chance that there is some kind of manufacturer’s defect, and in which case there’s not much you can do. But generally, floor models are great.

  4. We already have a 4″ memory foam topper but want a new mattress when we move. Is a good mattress just as important considering the topper?

    • In general, the mattress will outlast the topper.

      If you’re happy with the topper, the key would be to get a supportive mattress underneath, and don’t worry too much about the foam built into the top of the mattress since you’ll be using your own.

  5. The way you made it sound is as though anytime a mattress salesman offers a warranty they shouldn’t buy it, or that they shouldn’t have to buy a box spring. MOST customers actually try to use an old box spring from a different brand which DOES void there warranty. I think this blog needs a little updating. You are only giving a partial story to make yourself seem like an expert on mattresses, but are only giving a partial answer to the truth.

    • 1) Warranties come with the mattress. I’ve never seen a warranty “sold separately.”

      2) An old boxspring from a different brand does NOT generally void the warranty unless the boxspring is in bad shape or is a different type. Read the fine print of a warranty some time.

      This blog is updated regularly, and I am not giving a “partial answer to the truth.” I don’t just “seem” like an expert on mattresses. I AM one. I’ve been in the mattress business for over 10 years now.

  6. I am thinking about buying a king bed from the Four Seasons Hotel. I have read in one or two places that the hotel beds are made to be extremely comfort, but not to last as long. i have no idea if that is true. do you have any opinions on both the four seasons bed itself, and whether it would be true that a hotel bed (such as the four seasons one) would be made more cheaply and not last as long? thanks!

    • I haven’t heard that before.

      Generally, hotel mattresses will be similar to the retail versions, but just a little simpler. For example, they don’t need to look pretty to get you to buy them in a store, so they’ll look a little more plain. Instead of a “true pillowtop” many will use a “euro-top” design. Things like that.

      It’s very possible that they also sacrifice quality in the layers of foam, but I can’t verify that myself.

    • I just know that they’re fairly basic mattresses. They tend to be lower quality, but have a lower price that is roughly in line with the quality.

  7. Thank you for a well written article, it is sound advice and much appreciated as I shop for a new mattress for a spare bedroom- I’m not in a hurry. My question is, besides Labor Day and Black Friday, is there a “best time” to make a mattress purchase? I have a Sears Mattress opening near me- do they generally have some spectacular grand opening sales? thanks for any advice.

    • President’s Day also has good sales, and there are some other holidays like Columbus Day and 4th of July which are also good, but maybe not quite as good as, say, Black Friday.

      In my experience, Grand Opening sales aren’t a big deal, especially of just a new store in a chain.

      The time to get the absolute best deals is when a company is going out of business, but that’s exceedingly rare.

  8. 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?

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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.

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