Thinking of making a purchase from one of the new online mattress companies? There are some things you deserve to know before pulling that trigger.
A Thriving Business isn’t Proof of a Valuable Product
These companies are currently the “darlings” of Wall Street. The marketing “genius” behind them is being taught in business schools across the country. This is not for the quality, comfort, or longevity of their products; it’s for the incredible amount of money these companies are making.
Why are Online Mattress Companies so Lucrative?
Because the mattresses they produce are made of cheap materials. Total cost of manufacturing is around $100 across the board. Each mattress consists of blocks of inexpensive, lightweight polyurethane foam.
Let’s break this down and take a look at the Casper mattress, specifically. To start, you’re only getting one sleep surface. These mattresses are not two-sided and flippable. This should be the first indication that they are not quality products.
What’s that one sleeping surface made out of, then? For the Casper, there will be a thin 3/4″ to 1″ layer of synthetic blend latex and a thin layer of polyurethane memory foam. If the latex blend contains any tree rubber at all, it will be a minimal amount. And that polyurethane memory foam? That stuff’s all petrochemicals, same as the synthetic latex.
This toxic concoction of a mattress is vacuum packed and boxed for shipping. Freight represents $30 to $50 of the cost to the manufacturer.
The selling price varies, but falls roughly into the $600 to $1,000 range (all dollar amounts are based on Queen size mattresses).
That Money Back Guarantee is a Warning Sign, Not a Reassurance
The genius of this business model is that if you keep the mattress, their profit margin is roughly $450 to $850, depending on the brand. What makes this transaction special, is that if you exercise your money back return they still make money off of you! Sound strange? It’s true.
Turning Charity Donations into Cash
If you decide to ask for a refund, they donate your mattress instead of taking it back. Why? Because it costs more to ship it back than it costs them to make a new one (shipping the mattress once it’s no longer vacuum packed is very expensive). The value of their charitable donation amounts to anywhere from $600 to $1,000 in value. The tax deduction for the donation, assuming a 35% marginal tax rate, on an $800 mattress is $280. Subtract from that $280 the $150 original cost to manufacture and ship the mattress and the profit for a donated mattress is a tidy $130.
Maybe that feels like a win-win to you? You like it, and you keep it; if you don’t, a charity receives a like-new mattress, and the company that sold it to you made money too. But it’s not that simple.
Disposable Products are Not the Answer
For your $800 you are buying a cheap poly-foam mattress. At best, it is only a temporary solution. You can reasonably expect to get a maximum of 3 years of comfort from these mattresses. That’s it. After that it’s fodder for the landfill.
Save your money. Yes, it can be convenient to order something like this online. The truth is you’re not getting much. We’ve done tear-downs on these mattresses after taking them away from dissatisfied customers. Sagging after just a couple months and low quality materials are all we’ve ever seen.
It is terrible for you financially if you keep the mattress, because you’re back in the market within a couple years; and as a planet, we cannot afford to make disposable products on this scale.