The Exclusive Mattress Scam

You go to a small chain of mattress stores and the salesperson gives you the hard sell on the brand new Purple Hippo 9000. This mattress boasts Platinum, 5 in 1 coils wrapped in 100% silk. It has both memory and amnesia foam, latex and a hundred other foam layers that have really sexy names. You try it out and it does feel awesome. The salesman has the hook in you, now its reeling time. It comes with a lifetime warranty and we are the only chain that carries this exclusive product.

In fact, he is SO confident that he WANTS you to go down to his competitors and have you ASK them if they carry the Purple Hippo 9000. He may even warn you that they will try and talk you OUT of such an awesome product.

What the heck, its just down the street. You go to the next store and experience the following dialogue.

YOU: “Do you carry the Purple Hippo 9000?”

SALESMAN: “The What?”

YOU: “I really like the Purple Hippo 9000 and wanted to see your price.”

SALESMAN: “I’m sorry, but we only carry the top brands. I can show you a Stearns and Foster, Sealy, Simmons, Serta etc, but I am not even sure what a Purple Hippo is.”

You think to yourself  “A-Ha, just as the first salesman said, nobody else carries such an exclusive product. And, the PH 9000 is over 60% off during the current sale. Why would I even try any other mattress?”

You turn around and storm out of the store without even testing any other products.

I encountered this early in my career and thought this approach had been largely abandoned. Since I have recently heard that this still happens, let’s dissect the process a little.

When you are a smaller chain, or in a very competitive market, you are always looking for an edge. The major brands are generally not going to provide anything that is significantly better than what they give your competitors – a different cover, name or an “exclusive” foam layer. Your only hope is to pick up a line or carry a manufacturer that nobody else in the market carries. This gives you an advantage. Now you must sell it like crazy to the point that the customer would not even consider anything else.

There are many problems with this approach.

  1. Is this really the right mattress for your customer? If they are not trying several brands, probably not.
  2. Is the customer paying a fair price? if nobody else carries the product, how do you know?
  3. Is this a quality product? If bigger retailers, especially large regional ones or national ones do not carry it, its a big quality red flag.
  4. Will the company be around tomorrow when there is a warranty problem?
  5. Are they pushing the mattress for your benefit, or their own? More on this below.

 

I see this most often in the innerspring world. It is much easier to hide the quality of an innerspring mattress by dressing it up with sexy sounding features and benefits for showroom appeal. With foam beds, they are what they are. But with innerspring mattresses, they may feel and look far better on the floor than they will ever perform in your bedroom.

If the company is simply looking for a competitive edge, that is acceptable. But as a consumer, it is important to not get sucked into their marketing efforts. Is this mattress really the right solution for YOU? If it is an innerspring product, why are you paying a premium price for 19th century technology? That is what it is no matter what you stuff inside.

If a store is pushing one brand and nobody else carries it, be very cautious. Retailers are smart. They will not carry a dog product – floor space is far too valuable. If that brand has a history of high returns, poor performance or customer dissatisfaction, a smart retailer would never floor it. A large retailer is always testing lines and models in multiple markets. This is a luxury a smaller chain may not have.

A salesman that is really pushing one brand hard, may be better compensated by selling that brand. They may be getting a kickback, or SPIFF, to sell that mattress. In this case, they absolutely do not have your best interests in mind.

That Purple Hippo 9000 may be the first salesman’s only hope. They may be getting beat on price, selection, services up and down their line and their only alternative is to focus on something that nobody else carries. Since you can’t compare price or even comfort, its a MAJOR leap of faith that you are getting the right mattress at a fair price. Odds are HEAVILY against you in this situation.

Rest assured that if the Purple Hippo 9000 was the cat’s meow, EVERY mattress retailer and department store of any substance would floor it. The mattress industry is very competitive and they know what works and what does not.

The same can even apply to individual lines of major manufacturers. Most have entry level, main lines, luxury lines, foam lines etc. Even within a major brand, there could be dogs. If only one retailer in a major metro area is carrying a major manufacturer’s premium line, I would be wary and do more homework. There may be a very compelling reason why other retailers do not carry that line.

I know it may seem strange to read fictitious mattress names in these blogs. This is done intentionally. I do not want to shame retailers or manufacturers. It is fairly obvious to most customers who do their homework, which are the very best brands and which ones should be avoided. And the above information can be applied to virtually everyone.

The takeaway here is do your homework and don’t fall for the marketing hype from a manufacturer, retailer or salesperson. The only one that can select the correct mattress for your body is YOU. Take your time, select the right one and don’t overpay for your purchase. Find a GOOD mattress salesperson that works for YOU not against you. You are buying SLEEP, not a mattress. With this attitude, you will not fall for all the tricks.

 

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