July 2020

Mattress sales tactics: How to avoid being ripped off buying a mattress

Buying a new mattress or bed should be an exciting and rewarding process. You’re looking forward to a more comfortable nights sleep or a more suitable mattress. You’re armed and ready to go buy a mattress, or so you think! Let us help show you what sales tactics you need to watch out for and avoid when buying a new mattress.

Updated 2020: Unfortunately for most the experience of buying a new mattress in a sale is at best confusing and tiring and at worst misleading and expensive! Busy retail shops, misinformed staff, sketchy product descriptions, jargon, lying awkwardly on show beds and artificial lighting and prices.

Red for sale sign
How much do you trust that salesperson to fully understand your needs?

So take the guesswork out of the equation, understand the means and methods that are sometimes used to sell you a mattress, any mattress in some cases, and take charge of getting a truly suitable bed.

We have a condensed our top 5 tips for those of you who are halfway out the door to their nearest showroom, and more detail for those of you who want to consider the arguments a bit closer.

Mattress Sales Assistants know very little about beds

So you’re in a position to go looking for your new dream bed. The first stop for many people is to go and do the rounds at the retailers, after all, they are the experts? Am I sure they are? Are they?

However, mattress retail Sales assistants make assumptions as soon as you walk in the door. They will be asking very little about you other than budget and mattress size.

As you arrive you see massive red and white sale signs, further reductions, half price, free base with selected beds and interest-free purchase signs which almost blind you. It is a bed sale of the century!

Origins reflex0007 3
Consideration needs to be taken to your height, bodyweight, budget and requirements to fully recommend a mattress. Something most retailers simply don’t provide.

The sales assistant makes their move as soon as you step foot through the door. What kind of bed are you looking for? The golden million-dollar question, but I bet most people simply state the size of bed they want rather than anything specific. With just a few soft, medium firm style questions as you’re marched off around the store.

Then you’re taken on a journey of confusion, try this, try that and ‘this one has so much money off, this one comes with a coolmax cover and this has been recently reduced further’.

I can almost guarantee no discussion over bodyweight, the bed you currently have or any problems you have encountered will be asked at this stage. Which is of vital importance when considering a new mattress!

You get bombarded with the killer question ‘how do you find this one?’ after your 15 seconds awkwardly sprawled on the beds they have on trial. Nothing is given in writing all the advice is face to face and almost impossible to keep up with and follow.
Retailers never ask the most important questions such as your weight or sleeping preferences.
Divans vs bedstead bases
Rows of confusing vaguely detailed retail mattresses

The mattress details are overlooked in shops

Any discussion about the components of the mattress will be discussed at an incredibly high level, confusing you even further. If you ask for any more information you will probably get even more high-level confusion or just shown even more beds. You get further and further confused.

Looking at the mattress description can you actually tell what’s inside it?

The bottom line is none of this is helping you choose the correct mattress. It is just helping you choose something, anything that will make a sale. Let us stop that scenario. This is where we come in. There is no need to go through any of the above. Using this site or speaking to one of our friendly experts can help you understand the right mattress choice much faster and with zero spin

What you really need to know to be able to choose a mattress

It’s such a shame that retail mattress sales are seen as a competitive sport rather than properly assessing which mattress would be suitable for you. You’re never asked the right questions meaning that your search for your new mattress is purely based on budget and how quickly you can make a decision to buy.

With decades of experience, we can condense the correct requirements gathering exercise into 3 main points.

Our decades of mattress making expertise can help you ask the right questions when buying a new mattress

1. What spring tension do you need?

This is the most vital question when choosing a mattress. Spring tensions are not the same of ‘comfort’ or ‘mattress feel’. The spring tension is entirely dictated by your body weight. If you choose a bed based on soft, medium or firm and expect it to feel like that you’re going to be disappointed, This rating nearly always refers to the spring tension of the mattress and not the ‘comfort layers’ or ‘upholstery feel’ of the mattress. See our handy table below to work out exactly which ‘Spring tension’ you need.

Spring TensionWire diameter (Gauge)Weight Range
Soft1.2mmBespoke Tension (Please Call)
Medium1.4mmUpto 16 stone
Firm1.6mm16 stone plus
Extra Firm / Orthopaedic1.9mm20 stone plus

2. What’s your budget and what to expect

The next question really is to identify the kind of upholstery and spring unit your budget can afford. There’s no point being shown 100% Natural Fibre hand made mattresses if you have a budget of say £500. The pricing table below will help you identify what you can expect for our budget to help you identify suitable models.

How much to spend on a double mattress?What can I expect for my money?
Under £500Will not get you much at best a 13.5 gauge open coil/cage sprung with a thin polyester layer or a solid foam mattress.
£500Entry level spunbond springs with some form of synthetic upholstery. Usually one sided mattresses.
£750The beginnings of a basic pocket springs unit with 800 – 1000 count. No substantial amount of filling other than foams and synthetic materials. Two sided models.
£1000Should get you away from most low ranges and into the mid-range pocket spring models.
£1250Should get you a decent pocket sprung mattress with some Natural Fibre content.
£1500Should get you many manufacturers mid-range models with Natural Fibres
£1500-£2000Should get you a Hand Made primarily Natural Fibre Quality Mattress
£2000+You should expect 100% Natural Fibres and Traditional Hand Made Construction Method.
£5000+A Bespoke Hand Made Sleep System, High-end Spring Units & Featuring the Worlds Most Luxurious Natural Fibres.

3. Choose the overall comfort or feel of the mattress

This is where most people go wrong. They mistakenly choose the spring tension as the comfort feel leading to years of awkward and uncomfortable sleep. Given that most retailers have very stringent guarantee and return conditions you need to make sure you don’t fall into this trap.

The upholstery layers on top of the spring or support unit will provide the overall feel of the mattress. This is where you really need expert advice to help explain how each layer works independently and when combined. For example, horsehair acts as both a spring and a resistant layer whereas wool is a softer primary layer. Our team of experts can help identify what layers you need for say a soft, medium or firm feel in the mattress based on your budget.

Upholstery LayerFibre TypeHow it will feel?Price Point
White FibreSyntheticSoft/MediumCheap
Recycled Fibre / Eco FibreSyntheticMediumCheap
Memory FoamSyntheticMedium/FirmMid Price
Igel / Hybrid FoamSyntheticMedium/FirmMid Price
PolycottonSynthetic/Natural BlendSoft/MediumMid Price
LinenSynthetic/Natural BlendMediumMid Price
Wool (Pure)NaturalSoft/MediumHigh-End
Cotton (Pure)NaturalSoftHigh-End
Latex (100% Natural)NaturalMedium/FirmHigh-End
Coarse CashmereNaturalFirmHigh-End
BambooNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive
Horsetail NaturalFirmExpensive / Exclusive
AlpacaNaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
Cashmere (Pure)NaturalSoftExpensive / Exclusive
VicunaNaturalSuper SoftExpensive / Exclusive

You should always avoid a one-sided mattress where possible. This is another common mistake when buying a mattress, especially in a bed sale. You’re tricked into thinking ‘Turn free’ mattresses are actually a benefit when they are not. Unless you’re paying half price for the mattress then a no-turn bed should always be avoided when possible.

The comfort or feel of the mattress is based on the upholstery layers on top of the spring
The comfort or feel of the mattress is based on the upholstery layers on top of the spring
Spring tensions are entirely dictated by your weight and do not relate directly to the 'feel' of the mattress
Spring tensions are entirely dictated by your weight and do not relate directly to the 'feel' of the mattress

Top 5 Mattress Sale Tips

1 – You don’t need to physically try out a mattress. In fact, often going about it this way means you miss vital research and information required to choose a suitable mattress. A 15-second session lying on a showroom bed won’t give you a good indication of the comfort, durability or structure of the mattress.

2- Gather your requirements for your new mattress first, to really understand what you need it to provide you with and any weight considerations, especially if it’s a shared bed.

3 – Do your research before you set off to an online retailer or retail shop. You’re unlikely to get the level of information you require from sales staff. Use our guides so you know how to compare mattresses before you step out the door.

4 – Be wary of Sale signs, especially given the recent office of fair trading enquiry into misleading RRP prices and sales of retailers. Do you feel the bed you’re looking at ever was worth the RRP? Your requirements should come first and then budget close second, a perceived good deal is not a good buy if it’s not the right bed for you!

5 – Ask ‘what does that mean?’ don’t just take someone’s word for it. If you’re given product details query what that means for you in terms of comfort, durability and support in the mattress. What is the density, depth and construction method of these memory foams or latex layers? If you feel uncertain then trust your instinct!


If you are unsure, you can speak directly to an expert who can provide honest advice without the spin. If you’re planning on visiting a mattress retailer read our top 5 tips to at least be armed with some guidance to save confusion. You could always choose the alternative which is to give our small friendly team a call on 0161 437 4419 and chat through your options from the comfort of your own home. We can provide comparisons if you do want to hit the shops to test some out, but with our 60 days love it or return it guarantee you probably won’t want to!

We also have our own online outlet were we discount returned mattresses. Far more transparent than a fake sale or alternatively you can buy from our mattress clearance range. Why not have a look? Alternatively get in touch with our small friendly team and drop us a message below for free impartial mattress advice.

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