Questions to ask when mattress shopping?

My husband and I will be going to look at memory foam mattresses tonight and I’m wondering if you have a list of questions you think we should ask? Or if you can give me anything advice on what types of questions I should be asking to get a good quality memory foam mattress that will last? Thanks!

Hi mrsloveless,

I generally recommend first researching the level of knowledge, transparency, and service of the outlet on the phone and then following up with an actual visit for the ones that “pass the test”. The outlet you buy from can be one of the most important factors in ending up with a high quality mattress with good value. This can save a lot of frustration in going to an outlet which either can’t or won’t provide answers to the types of questions that are most important and can tell you about the quality of materials in a mattress to make more meaningful comparisons possible. The types of questions I would ask in an “interview” are in this article. You will get responses to these types of questions ranging from informative to evasive and sometimes even argumentative about the need to even know them when (according to them) you should “just come in and lie on the mattresses” and buy the one that’s most comfortable and everything else is “irrelevant”.

There are two general types of specs that are important. One of these are what I call “quality/value specs” which are all about the quality and thickness of the different layers in a mattress. These will tell you the relative quality and value of a mattress and are the most important to know. These include layer thickness and the density of any memory foam or polyfoam in a mattress.

The second is what I call “comfort specs” and these are more about softness/firmness levels and how a mattress “feels” which are not so important in a local purchase because these are just the means to get to an “end result” which is PPP (Pressure relief, Posture and alignment, and Personal preferences) which you can test for in the store rather than going by the “theory” of the specs which are far less accurate than your own personal experience. These are more important in an online purchase when you can’t test the mattress or are trying to match a mattress to something you have tested.

In the case of a memory foam mattress … the most important questions I would want to know are in post #2 here.

I would also want to know the details of a warranty but in this case the length of the warranty (which is usually a sales tool and has little to nothing to do with the useful life of a mattress) would be far less important than the “exclusions of a warranty (especially the exclusions such as the depth of impressions that are excluded and considered “normal”). A .75” impression exclusion is better than a 1.5" exclusion for example.

I would also want to know any other materials in the mattress besides the memory foam and the base layers (such as the material or fabric in the cover or any quilting materials used).

I would also ask specific questions about the details of any store policies or services that they offer such as exchanges, refunds, delivery, any costs involved and make sure I understood them all.

These are the most important questions I would be asking.

I would also make sure I was dealing with a salesperson who had been trained in how to “educate” their customers about the materials in a mattress rather than trained how to “sell” a mattress using various marketing techniques. these people will give you space and will have the knowledge, experience, and willingness to answer or find the answers to the more “unusual” questions that better educated consumers will ask.

I would be especially wary of anything that was said or done to create a “sense of urgency” or “commitment” such as “sale prices”, putting down a deposit to hold a mattress or a price, or buying based on a sense of loss such as “there’s only one left”, “the sale ends today”, and many others. Many salespeople are trained that they will only have one chance to sell you a mattress before you leave and buy somewhere else and to do whatever they can to make a sale or get a commitment before you leave the store. Remember that good quality and value is available every day of the year and “urgency” or “sense of loss” techniques are a sign of a store that is more interested in selling you what they can for the sake of a commission or store profit rather than what you really need and prefer. Outlets that know they have good quality and value mattresses know that the more you do your homework, and the more they focus on educating their customers and helping them make more meaningful comparisons … the greater the odds are that you will come back buy from them.

Hope this helps.