When consumer reports talks, people listen. So, while I usually don’t write about other magazine stories in this column, I felt the publication’s February cover story, “Secrets to a Great Night’s Sleep,” warrants review.
The 14-page feature, which includes ratings of 74 mattresses, opens with the results of a survey of 62,000 Consumer Reports subscribers, nearly 20,000 of whom had purchased a new bed in the previous three years. The findings are peppered throughout a story, which provides seven steps for shoppers to buy “a mattress you’ll love, and that loves you back.”
There is sound advice here, much of which is promoted by the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association:
- Replace your bed every eight to 10 years—or when you aren’t sleeping as well as you once did.
- Give your body several weeks to adjust to a new mattress.
- Avoid bright lights, blue screens and heavy meals close to bedtime, and practice relaxation techniques like listening to music.
The survey also confirms the BSC’s rest-test advice. Seventy-seven percent of respondents who tested their beds for at least 15 minutes in the store were very happy with their purchase.
But then there are the cringe-worthy comments in “Step 4: Never Pay Full Price,” recommending shoppers always “negotiate with gusto”—even online. And it harps on the discomfort of testing beds in a “fluorescent lit” mattress showroom.
One Sleep Savvy reader and retail mattress specialist for a department store points out: “Price negotiation will only cause doubt in the consumer. Why should one customer get a lower price for the same item another customer pays the ticketed price for because he lacks negotiating skills? Even many used car dealers are abandoning this practice.”
Also disturbing are “Step 5: “Make Good Use of the Trial Period” and “Step 6: Have Many Happy Returns.” Promises of easy returns have a big downside. Not only are mattress returns a losing proposition for retailers, but too many of those beds go to landfills or worse, on the side of the road.
I don’t expect Consumer Reports to write a 100% glowing story about mattress buying. But I wish there were less of this—“Start by asking for a price that’s 50% off the list price”—and more of this—“We think you should give your mattress choice at least as much consideration as a new car.”
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.