Thanks so much for this forum, as well as the wealth of information available through this site!
My wife and I have been considering replacing our memory-foam mattress (now well into its “bonus years”) and the Labor Day sales have finally gotten us moving. But suppliers in our Northern Virginia area seem to specialize in the brands you recommend avoiding. We’re considering buying online, but comparing mattress comfort seems much too subjective to do well by simply comparing specifications, no matter how detailed they might be. What are your thoughts about buying online?
Online purchases are discussed in one of the many informative articles on this website and a number of “highly thought of” online retailers are named. My understanding was to look at two main aspects, 1. quality of materials and 2. return policies.
Personally, I tested different beds at local stores to get an idea of the feel I prefer. I almost bought a memory foam mattress from Novosbed, one not on the Membership list, but one that is thought of to have a quality made mattress. This company offers a 120 day no charge return policy. Another plus with many of the online retailers, you may not have to pay sales tax, but that will depend on the state you live in. I ended up cancelling my order from Novosbed because I had a chance to try a latex bed and decided I preferred the feel of latex. So, I ordered from another online retailer and even though it has been a little less than a week with our new mattress, we couldn’t be any happier.
Whoever you go with, as long as they are a reputable company, they should ask you many questions to help you determine your best fit, unless it is a one size fits all mattress like Casper. Shipping should be free and a paid option of “white glove service” would be available if you are unable to set the bed up yourself. We found the process to be very easy.
There are a lot of highly thought of reputable online retailers with phenomenal return policies (many just donate your return bed to a local charity). And if you are a picky buyer, these generous return policies would allow you to try many different mattresses over the course of a year without having to buy any one of them.
There is more about the pros and cons of an online purchase vs a local purchase in post #2 here and this topic.
Two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you’ve read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort” and PPP (Posture and alignment, Pressure relief, and Personal preferences) that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped for when you sleep on it in “real life” and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the “value” of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well you will sleep), durability (how long you will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists (based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you).
As you mentioned there isn’t any way for most people that don’t have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the industry to be able to predict how a mattress will “feel” based on specs alone so when you can’t test a mattress in person then the most reliable source of guidance is always a more detailed phone conversation with a knowledgeable and experienced retailer or manufacturer that has your best interests at heart who can help “talk you through” the specifics of their mattresses and the properties and “feel” of the materials they are using (fast or slow response, resilience, firmness etc) and the options they have available that may be the best “match” for you based on the information you provide them, any local testing you have done or mattresses you have slept on and liked or other mattresses you are considering that they are familiar with, and the “averages” of other customers that are similar to you. They will know more about “matching” their specific mattress designs to different body types, sleeping positions, and preferences (or to other mattresses that they are familiar with) than anyone else.
The tutorial includes several links to lists of some of the better online options I’m aware of (in the optional online step) that includes many different types of mattresses in a wide range of budgets that would be well worth considering and many of these have good exchange or return options as well which can reduce the risks of an online purchase.
The better options or possibilities I’m aware of in and around the northern VA and Washington, DC area (subject to making sure that any mattress you are considering meets that quality/value guidelines I linked earlier in this reply) are listed in post #2 here.