5 On Your Side

Man takes mattress woes to 5 on Your Side

Posted June 11, 2008

— The mattress is one of most important pieces of furniture in your home. An uncomfortable one can ruin your night’s sleep.

When a Chapel Hill man wasn't happy with his mattress and couldn't get the store or manufacturer to replace it, he called 5 on Your Side.

At first glace, Peter Shortell’s mattress looked fine. But a closer look showed some problems.

“These are the various and sundry unravellings,” he said.

Shortell bought the $750 Serta mattress and a bed frame from Mattress Warehouse in Durham.

Buying a mattress can be frustrating, because consumers can't always comparison shop. Model names for the same mattresses differ from store to store, and prices vary extensively from one day to the next.

As Shortell found, returning a mattress you're unhappy with can bring yet another round of frustration.

“I had a back operation last year at the VA, and I felt like I needed something a little stronger than my beautiful standby,” he said.

His new mattress was delivered in late October. About two and a half months later, he noticed lots of stitches unraveling.

He called Mattress Warehouse. The company sent a representative from "Mattress Marshals" to investigate. The rep noted "stitching coming out" and another problem: a 1-inch “sag right down the middle.”

Shortell said he thought he'd get a replacement mattress. But then, he received a form letter from Mattress Warehouse saying "no warrantable defects were found."

He then called Mattress Warehouse District Manager Kenny Ahern, who basically said the sag wasn't sagging enough, Shortell said.

“The 1-inch sag that is there, OK, is not enough. It's supposed to be an inch and a half … but I've only had it two months,” he said.

Ahern sent 5 on Your Side an e-mail calling the unstitched threads an "aesthetic issue only" and that the "body impressions" do not exceed "manufacturer's standards."

He also noted that he hired Mattress Marshals, an "independent third party" at "no cost” to Shortell, and says the representative determined "no defects were apparent."

However, 5 on Your Side found that Mattress Marshals advertises it works for retailers and manufacturers with a mission to "reduce the operating expenses of needless returns and exchanges."

Ahern has since agreed to replace the mattress, which is what Shortell wanted from the start.

Even though no one from Serta checked the mattress in person, the company told 5 On Your Side the sag is "normal wear" and added the warranty "does not cover mattress fabric, which includes stitching."

Still, Ahern followed through and delivered a new mattress to Shortell on Monday. So far, it’s fine, Shortell said.

Part of the problem with mattress purchases is that many of the warranties offered are very tightly written. When you read the fine print, they often have lots of exclusions.

What you need to know before you buy a mattress, according to Consumer Reports:

  • Despite the claims, there is no best bed for everyone. You'll need to spend time finding the mattress that's most comfortable and supportive for you.
  • Trying a mattress for 15 minutes in a store can predict long-term satisfaction.
  • Although Duxiana, Select Comfort and Tempur-Pedic beds cost $1,500-plus and promise great comfort, real-world tests showed they aren't to everyone's liking.
  • The cheap mattresses featured in flyers are apt to be less durable than others; their padding may be so thin that you feel the springs.
  • Sales are frequent, discounts are steep, and no one should pay list price for a conventional innerspring mattress. If you wait for a sale, you can save hundreds or more.

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  • christye Jun 17, 2008

    I finally talked with the right person at Mattress Warehouse. I received a full refund for the mattress I had purchased and an apology from the distict manager after he heard how rudely I had been treated.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jun 12, 2008

    Just sleep on it - tomorrow will be a better day. lol lol

  • Fletcher Jun 12, 2008

    Most major mattress manufacturer's warranties cover sinkage that is 1 1/2 inches or greater. It is clearly stated in the warranty. Anything less that 1 1/2 inches is usually attributed to normal body impressions in the matt top. Most manufacturers do not offer a comfort warranty. It is a structural warranty.

    It is against the law to re-sell used mattresses, so if the mattress manufacturer does not authorize a return, then the store must "eat it" to satisfy the customer. Most stores cannot take such a loss.

    The lesson is to find a store that has been in business for a long time, the store knows the product they are selling, and you trust them. Then spend as much time as you need in the store making your decision. Ask questions. Do not rush the process. Then choose.

  • christye Jun 12, 2008

    I have a dispute going right now with Mattress Warehouse. I had a problem after 5 days and the local store told me "you bought it, it's yours." They would only consider my compalint if it was still in the plastic bag. Sorry, I don't sleep on a mattress in a plastic bag. I have no warranty papers because the manager "could not locate them in his desk'. Yes, my fault for buying under such circumstances. I ended up buying two sets from Mattress Firm. So far, so good. I am not sure how the dispute with Mattress Warehouse will end, but I cannot recommend them.

  • Bradley07 Jun 12, 2008

    Gotta jump on the Mattress Firm way to go too. I bought one from them, when they came to set it up I noticed that the seam on the bottom of the Mattress was coming apart. I called the store and by dinnertime that night they had sent another truck with a New one. Same day service I couldn't have been happier! I've since bought new mattresses for kids from them, we all sleep much better. You can't beat their customer service, they do care.

  • poorboy Jun 12, 2008

    I had similiar problems with HECHTES at crabtree several years and actually go through serta to get help. The manager at crabtree store even said my 15 yr old bed frame was the problem and should get a new bed frame b/c styles change. went to matress firm to spring and bought a second EXCELLENT so far

  • DurhamDude Jun 12, 2008

    I had a problem with a mattress I purchased from Mattress Firm and they came out and swapped it out for a new one. I was very happy with Mattress Firm. Great customer service, at least with my experience.

  • tarheel22 Jun 12, 2008

    I agree bpimphill. I had surgery 4 years ago and I looked for a mattress for probably a month. I live in Wilson and ended up buying my mattress from MATTRESS FIRM in Raleigh. I'm sure I paid a little more for it than usual, but they delivered it to Wilson and I tried it for 30 days. I found in that 30 days the mattress was not confortable and called them for a replacement. I went to Raleigh picked out another one, they delivered it and I have been happy ever after. They were feeling my pain and just wanted me to have the best for my situation. They accomplished that and have a customer for life.

  • uncbabie Jun 12, 2008

    Thank you for calling me crooked and corrupt.

    It is a hard industry to be in. I don't totally agree with a 90 day sleep trial. NC has some of the toughest bedding laws in the Nation. We cannot resell mattresses, but, sometimes companies do. If caught doing so, we get shut down. So, it is hard to take back mattresses. There are now companies that allow us to do that, but it costs more to have that option. Some people want it, others do not.

    "Why can't companies just put out a honest, good quality, product at a fair price and stand behind it 100% instead of trying to find ways to trick and screw their customers for a buck."

    Some companies do. I just took back a mattress for a woman, that we will eat, because the manufacturer didn't think it was bad enough. She wasn't happy. That's not right, we took it back.

    Check who you're shopping with. See how long they've been around. Ask your sales associate how long they've worked there, and if they don't mention sleep, get out.

  • Another_Viewpoint Jun 11, 2008

    So, In other words, mattress companies and their industry wide methods of operation are crooked!!! No way to comparison shop; lengthy, warranty, fine print, exclusions; companies specifically set up as "independant inspectors" with the soul purpose of looking out for the mattress companies bottom line, not the consumer (read kickbacks). Crooked and corrupt. Why can't companies just put out a honest, good quality, product at a fair price and stand behind it 100% instead of trying to find ways to trick and screw their customers for a buck. If Americans would just start focusing on honesty we would all be better off.