In the Market for a Mattress?

These days you can buy almost anything online, and many brick and mortar stores are closing. Back in the 1990s when Doc Frugal ordered an adjustable mattress from a marketing flyer at a mall kiosk (the order was placed by phone! It was the olden days!), it seemed so unusual and risky. Thanks to pure luck, that mattress lasted for many happy years. With modern technology and competition, the act of purchasing a mattress online often gives you a better chance of ending up with a comfortable mattress as compared to shopping in a brick and mortar store. Read on and find out why!

There’s a reason for the increasing popularity of buying mattresses online. With generous return policies (up to 100 days with the better offers), and free shipping, there’s not really a downside if you shop smart. And, cutting out the middle-man means you benefit from buying directly from the company. They don’t need to pay for a fancy showroom (or pushy sales-people who get a commission), so those extra costs are not passed on to consumers like you.

Trying Before Buying

But don’t you want to TRY it first?   Seriously, there is no good way to lie down in a store and not think every mattress is great. It’s like trying on a pair of new shoes and walking 10 feet around the store and feeling like you tested them enough to make the decision to purchase. Those shoes on clearance will probably wait a few hours or days to pinch your feet or give you a blister. So, with mattresses, you aren’t spending 7-8 hours sleeping on that bed you’re “trying out” in that store and finding out how you feel when you wake up the next day, and the next day. A good company will show charts with level of firmness or other information you require to make an informed purchase. You can do your due diligence, and read reviews to find the companies with the best reputations and most customer satisfaction, but you still have no idea if YOU will like the mattress a few nights or a few weeks in.  If you don’t like it, make sure you can return it (see below for some tips on that, even though this is a rarity in brick and mortar).

Traditional Mattress Buying

In a store, the $300 innerspring mattress might feel better than the $2,000 one, so you buy it and then regret it when it loses its support quickly. Moreover, you have no idea what you are comparing; what is the real difference between the $300, $800 and $2,000 mattress? You see, each manufacturer only has a few actual mattress models but they wrap them with dozens of different fabrics and pillow tops and give them all different names. You can look at the same mattress at 10 different stores; you will see 10 different names and fabrics without having any clue that they are the same thing. This prevents you from comparison shopping or price matching. What really is inside, and how long will it keep its shape and stay supportive? Who knows! They (the manufacturers) would have you believe that their luxury models have some fancy new technology that will keep the innersprings lively and stiff in the $2,000 model far longer than in the $300 economy model.

In reality, the $2,000 mattress may be a bit better made with a higher spring count, but the difference is mostly in the warranty. You pay a LOT more for a broader and longer warranty. Sadly, mattress warranties are usually pretty tough to make a claim on and they are often a prorated mess where you must prove the mattress failed without abuse. The whole affair really is a racket.

Often times, after a year or so, an uncomfortable mattress is destined for a guest room, (nice trick when you don’t want your guests to stay for too long), be it a $200 or $2,000 model. That, or you simply can’t afford to eat the cost of the terrible mattress and you have to live with it (and the sore back, loss of sleep, and buyer’s remorse) for another 5-10 years! But hey, it felt nice in the store!

Modern Mattress Buying

Now, people are choosing memory foam mattresses more often, because they retain support for longer (therefore, lasting longer!), and are simpler to ship and move around. If you share a bed with a restless sleeper, you won’t notice them tossing and turning as much either.  Most importantly, they are both soft and supportive.  Some memory foam mattresses can even be used on adjustable beds because they’re flexible– that’s something the older innerspring mattresses cannot do. Given the ease of shipping and abundance of new foam and rubber technologies, it is no wonder that countless vendors have entered the mail-order mattress market. The other great benefit here is shopping from the comfort of your home. Instead of trudging out to countless brick and mortar stores and fruitlessly laying on mattress after mattress while trying to figure out which models are comparable, you can do your research online. Once you narrow down your choice, place an order. Companies like Lull offer a 100-night no-risk, no-hassle guarantee. If, on the odd chance that the mattress is not for you, they will have it boxed back up and shipped back for you. How can you go wrong?

Skip the awkward five-minute, fully-clothed try-out at the mattress store.

With Lull, you get a 100-day and night in-home mattress trial to make sure your purchase was the right purchase. Your 100-night mattress trial begins when your Lull is delivered.

But how do they deliver a mattress to your house? Do they just drop it on your porch and you have to wrestle with it?  With memory foam mattresses, they are compressed into a package in the factory and will take up a fraction of the space, arriving in a box that’s much smaller than expected. After you unpack it, it fluffs up to full size, which is pretty cool.

Shown above, the Lull memory foam mattress

Do Your Homework!

Not every modern mattress offer is a good deal, though.  For the best snooze for your buck, you want to check for:

  • Better Business Bureau affiliation – Don’t trust an icon on a website; click it and verify it’s a real link, or go to and enter the company’s information;
  • Consumer Reports rating – This is not the only metric to look at, but it will help weed out the bad players and or features that you need or do not need;
  • Generous return policy – Read the fine print to make sure there are no hidden fees in a return, such as return shipping costs or expensive restocking fees;
  • Safety certification – Safety is key, especially for memory foams. Some of the cheaper manufacturers’ products contain chemicals and toxins that can cause headaches, odors, or even illness. CertiPUR-US has a list of companies that use certified foams; see for a list;
  • Product warranty – What’s covered? For how long? Has this company been around for long enough that you feel confident they’ll still be in business if you have a problem eight years later?
  • Financing – If you want to make monthly payments and you have a decent credit rating, look for 0% APR financing, and pay it off as quickly as possible. If the financing terms are not clear – when does the introductory 0% APR increase, and to what percentage? – find this out beforehand; it may cost less to use a lower-APR credit card, or wait until you can pay the full cost upfront.

Bonus tip: You should encase your mattress with a protector that is waterproof. For under $25, there are mattress protectors that don’t crinkle or make you sweat like the cheaper ones. It will help keep stains, spills, or accidents (caused by people, pets, and beverages) off your new mattress. It’s money well spent!

Knowing how little risk there is in shopping for a quality mattress online and realizing the rewards (better savings, better sleep), you can buy with confidence and rest easy!  ZZZZZZZZZZ…