I am pretty frustrated with the mattress industry. I have been in the sleep business since 1970 and a retailer of mattresses and bedding since 1972. Now that the Private Equity Firms (the wonderful folks that helped bring about our recent financial troubles) bought up all the major mattress companies (Simmons, Sealy, Stearns & Foster – owned by Sealy – Spring Aire, and Serta) the industry has taken a “consumer be damned” attitude. The introduction of “Can’t Flip” mattresses in 2000 has been a slap in the face to consumers who can now expect three to five years out of their new mattress, a third of what can be expected from the two sided version.
Like many industries, mattress have been going through a period of cheapening the products. Another industry where companies have been mostly purchased by Private Equity Firms is appliances. It used to be you would buy an appliance expecting it to last 20 years or so. If something broke, a repairman would come to your home and fix it. Now, if you get five to seven years from the appliance you are lucky, and forget the repair. Parts aren’t available.
The reason companies make can’t flip mattresses is cost. The profits on them are too great to go back to two-sided mattresses. The companies can save 25-30% by not including the second side cushioning layer,the expensive part of most mattresses. They didn’t pass this savings on to the consumer (some can’t flip mattresses sell for several thousands of dollars), just used the savings to increase profits and then resell the company to another investment firm. Simmons has now has been sold many times. The added benefit is that the consumer is back in the marketplace in three to five years (or they put up with a saggy, uncomfortable bed).
When we deliver new mattresses to customers we offer to take away and recycle, if possible, their old mattress. Recently, on a day when we delivered 10 new mattresses we took away three can’t flip mattresses, all from one of the best known “S” brands, all just three years old and all completely worn out. Not even homeless shelters or charities will take mattresses so saggy so they ended up in a landfill. These were not inexpensive mattresses retailing locally for over $2000 each. One would think that such worn out condition after just three years would be covered under warranty but these companies deny all but the most extreme breakdowns.
The stores that sell can’t flip mattresses will tell people that these companies don’t make two-sided models anymore and will give all kinds of mumbo jumbo reasons for it. What they don’t tell you is that most of them do make two-sided models; they just don’t sell them to the consumer. They make them for the hotel/motel industry because hotel/motel owners know what products hold up and will avoid one-sided mattresses. They don’t last. Doesn’t that just show the manufacturers true stripes?
That’s my rant and is why my store will not sell “can’t flip” mattresses. In order to be sold on our floor, mattresses need to have two sleeping surfaces or have zipper access to the inside so that components can be flipped or refreshed. It is not right to sell mattresses that wear out so quickly. A consumer should be able to expect their new mattress to last and be comfortable for 8 to 12 years or more and longer for 100% botanical latex mattress models.
Bedrooms & More, Seattle