The long and wearisome quest for a reasonably priced mattress
“As much as you can afford.” “How long is a piece of string?” These are the kind of helpful answers that one can expect to hear when asking how much to spend on a mattress. And you can hardly blame the poor salespeople for resorting to such vagaries: it’s not in the least bit obvious, the choice is vast, and of course, up-selling is kind of their job.
Having recently taken the first step on the property ladder, my excitement at the prospect of buying lots of nice new stuff soon turned to frustration at the lack of transparency displayed in the pricing of, well, everything.
As the title of this article suggests, my search begins with a hunt for the perfect mattress. But with a low income to contend with and the insatiable drain of student debt never far from my mind, I’m not just going to smilingly hand over a wad and be swindled for all I’m worth. I am prepared to put up a fight for my reasonably priced mattress. And it’s just as well…
The plot thickens: the ugly truth about the cost of a mattress
After a disappointing first encounter with a large home furnishings company, I took to Google to put in some serious graft. Straightaway I stumbled upon an exhaustive and somewhat alarming write-up, which reveals some of the horrendous scams used by companies to sell mattresses at inflated prices.
Did you know, for instance, that many of the big manufacturers supply the same mattress under different names to different retailers? Or that they often disguise this deception by literally covering up said mattress with a slightly different casing? And don’t get me started on the sneaky add-ons, delivery charges and lord knows what else.
Here are ten important points that I took away from this eye-opening exposé:*
- Ignore the fancy brand names.
- Instead, base your decision on the features of the mattress (comfort layers, the number and size of the coils, the warranty period and policy wording) and its benefits (comfort, support and durability).
- Check the label of your existing mattress first and write down the details to bring along with you. If you found it uncomfortable, this will help your salesperson to figure out why so you can avoid choosing a similar one next time. If you found it comfortable and are simply replacing it then great, you can find another one that is similar.
- Try mattresses out in-store. Don’t be shy; lie down on as many as you can for as long as you need to in order to get a feel for them. Only you can know what you find comfortable. Start with the firmest mattress within a range and work your way down to the softest. Pay attention to how your shoulders, hips, and lower back feel. Repeat the process with each range you’re interested in until you have a good idea of what feels right, then lie in that mattress for a good few minutes to ensure that you have made the right choice.
- Don’t assume that the harder the mattress, the better it is for your back – there isn’t actually any evidence to substantiate this myth. Conversely, many ‘orthopedic’ mattresses are so called simply because they’re firmer than most! Instead, aim to strike the right balance between comfort and support, bearing in mind that a hard mattress will feel even firmer once you’ve been lying on it all night.
- Buy the mattress complete with its box set or foundation, which works together with the mattress to provide the right level of comfort and support and help you get the maximum life out of your mattress. Failure to do so can jeopardise your warranty.
- Don’t be fooled by free add-ons. These are often manufactured for the sole purpose of tricking naïve and easily swayed shoppers into buying an overpriced product.
- Don’t buy your mattress there and then. See if your salesperson asks for your phone number or email address and wait until they contact you with a better offer. Even if they don’t, walking away can be enough to trigger the panic response and encourage them to offer you a better deal.
- Beware of mattresses that appear to be heavily discounted. They might have been hugely marked up in the first place (as much as 500 percent, apparently!) to make the price of the discounted item seem more attractive to buyers.
- Before you shake on a deal, discretely ask about free delivery, free removal of your old mattress and anything else you can wangle. You never know.
*Apologies for the lengthy diversion, but if you want to get value for money on your mattress it’s worth putting in the groundwork.
How much to spend on a mattress
So, sneaky sales tactics aside: how much should you be willing to pay for a good mattress? Following many hours of obsessive searching and shameless bartering, I have come up with some rough ballparks for what you might expect to pay for a double mattress with a decent warranty and the right balance of comfort and support.
(Don’t quote me on these – you may, for all I know, be more ruthless than me in seeking out the best deal and for that I salute you.)
- Spring (open coil, pocket spring): £500 – £1000
- Memory foam (foam cell, Tempur, gel etc.): £800 – £1500
So it looks as though I’m going to take out a bank loan after all. Do these prices match up with your experiences? How much did you pay for your mattress? Please, savvy shoppers, I implore you to save me from these restless nights by sharing your tips below.