Dishonest Mattress Salesman Tips & Tricks

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Disclosure: By clicking on the product links in this article, Mattress Nerd may receive a commission fee at no cost to you, the reader. Read full disclosure statement.

Some mattress salesmen have a reputation not unlike used car salesmen. Not every mattress salesman fits this stereotype, but those looking to undercut their customers do exist. It’s important to be aware of the possible shady tactics that they can use when you’re looking to buy a mattress to ensure you’re getting the best deal out there. We’ve compiled a list of possible tactics provided by someone with industry experience.

Overselling the mattress warranty

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.” A dishonest salesman will tell you the product has a 20-year warranty and then leave off the details that the last 10 years in the warranty are different from the first.

The difference between a full warranty and prorated warranty can save you hundreds of dollars. For a mattress with a full warranty that becomes damaged, you get a new mattress for free, or you at least get a full refund to help reselect. On the other hand, if you have a prorated warranty and the mattress breaks, you only get $100 back to help reselect.

Honest salespeople will be upfront about this difference to ensure you remain aware.

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

Some salesmen will say that if you don’t use a mattress protector, the warranty for that mattress is no longer viable. While there are many reasons to use a mattress protector, not buying one from the store will not void your warranty. A mattress protector can help preserve your warranty, but it is by no means required for the warranty. It also does not matter whether the protector comes from the same retailer as your mattress or somewhere else. The salesman is simply trying to get an extra sale with the mattress.

Do I need a box spring to qualify for a warranty?

Similar to the mattress protector scenario, you don’t necessarily need to buy a box spring to qualify for a warranty. 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. 

Limited-time Deals

There are a near-infinite number of ways a salesman can word this one. If a customer seems hesitant to buy right away, a shady salesman might invent a past offer or situation that allows for a temporary drop in price. 

For example:

Salesman: 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… 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.

Since the salesman wants to earn your business right now, and price is the most common objection, they will come up with a discount. In order to hide that they can just reduce the price at will, they call a manager and come up with a plausible reason that the price is lower. 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 has nothing to do with any special merchandise. There isn’t a separate section in the warehouse that stores mattresses reserved for a sale. If a company legitimately does have too much stock on something, it’s mixed in with the rest of it at the same price.

So, if the price offered to you fits your budget, 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 return a month later and they would still honor that price. 

Important caveat: On certain products, like the Serta iSeries or Tempurpedic, there is a minimum price the retailer must maintain, and during some holiday sales, the manufacturer reduces that minimum selling price. For example, several years ago, Serta offered a free box spring 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. Make sure to check manufacturer websites to ensure a deal is legitimate.

The shady part is when the salesman invents some fictional sale to try to pressure you into buying now. Take the salesman’s reduced price and continue comparing other stores and what they have to offer.

Misleading List Prices

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 supposed regular retail price of an item. 

This is a form of anchoring, a psychological trick known that some retailers use 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. This makes the cheaper option seem like a fantastic deal.

Regular60% off
Twin XL3497.501399.00
Full 3747.501499.00

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

In most cases, a sale that big is not real, 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 may even acknowledge that the “list” price isn’t the real one.


Luckily, honest salespeople exist. There are many ways to search for your mattress, especially in the digital age, but some still prefer to test options in-person and seek the personal touch or advice of a salesperson. Be wary of salesmen who use tricks to get you to buy their stock. Take your time, do your research online, and be aware of your needs and budget. But if you encounter an honest salesperson, don’t be afraid to give them your business.

Check out our mattress buying guide for more tips on shopping like a pro.