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Avoid these common tricks of the trade

Mattress buyers guide
Man holds sale sign in mattress store to show how mattresses are discounted

Heading to the mattress shops this weekend? Get ready for a world of doubt. How much should I spend? Can I really trust what the salesperson is telling me? Is this discount genuine?

Whilst you’re probably hoping to get in and out as fast as you can, a mattress is a large investment so it’s worth taking some time to make sure that the mattress is right for you.

Here are some of the oldest tricks in the book from the mattress stores that you’ll want to avoid.

  • An old trick for mattress sellers is to ask you to try the most expensive mattress in the store first. They are probably hoping to cash in on a cognitive bias that we all have, where we're compelled to believe that a higher-priced mattress should feel much better than a lower priced mattress. Like the experiment where wine tasters thought that the $90 wine tasted so much better than the $10 wine, even though it was the same wine. In the big-brand stores, mattress pricing can be completely arbitrary, so you don’t want to fall for this trick.
  • Manufacturers and retail salespeople will want to fill your head with the specifics of the mattress coils and springs. The metrics of the wire gauge, coil count, spring unit height etc will affect the feel of the mattress, something that is highly subjective and very difficult to measure. Whether the spring unit has 3 zones or 7 zones, one is not better than the other – they will just feel different. The salesperson can’t tell you which one is right for you. Try not to get bogged down with information overload about the spring unit because it’s the specifications surrounding the foams that will affect the comfort in the mattress, how long that comfort will last and whether or not the mattress is good value for money. Read more about mattress foams here.
  • Try the mattresses without any pillows. The pillows in the store might be too fat, too thin, too firm or too soft for you and you don’t want that to influence the way that the mattresses feel. Mattress salespeople will be hoping that you find a pillow that you like so that they can add it on to the mattress sale.
  • If the mattress that you like is made by one of the three large Australian brands, then you can bet that it will be available in another store under another name. If the salesperson in shop A feigns ignorance about this, at least get them to write down the specs of the mattress that you like. Take these specs next door to shop B and that salesperson will more than likely find you the equivalent faster than you can say “same mattress!”
  • You would think that when you pay thousands for a new mattress, the store would deliver it to your home for free. However, not all stores will do this, and some will charge exhorbitant rates to get the mattress to you. With the advent of Airtasker, Taskrabbit and other odd-job apps, you might just find that someone with a van will deliver the mattress to your home for a much cheaper price and at a time that’s more convenient for you.
  • Furniture and bedding shoppers are often surprised to discover that the item that they want to buy may not be available immediately. In fact, sometimes that wait can be many weeks. That’s because a lot of stores don't hold stock, they simply order your mattress from the manufacturer once you've put down a deposit. 
  • Trying a mattress in a store for 5 minutes can never compare to spending a couple of nights sleeping on the mattress. It’s extremely common for shoppers to find that they don’t really love the mattress after a few days, even though it felt terrific in the store. Before you buy, find out what the return policy is. Will the store give you a refund or just an exchange? Is there a return fee? Is there a pick-up fee? If the store won’t budge on these policies, you may need to gently remind them that all of the online mattress stores offer around 100-night trial periods. You might see them become a little more flexible when you point this out. Still, get the return policy in writing. Verbal comments like “Don’t worry, we’ll look after you” might be completely forgotten if you want to return a mattress later down the track. Read about the Sherman 100 night trial here.


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