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Understanding Mattress Trial Periods: An Expert Explains

Mattress Trial Periods Explained By An Industry Expert

Because mattress sales have largely shifted to online buying instead of purchasing in brick and mortar retail stores where you can at least lay down on a mattress, in home trial periods have become an essential part of the purchase.

Buy before you try is sometimes a game changer for a lot of products, and impacts just a few categories including clothing, cars, and mattresses. Let’s face it, buying a mattress is an intimate experience, and the idea of buying one online so that you can try it on for size in the privacy of your own home is fantastic. 

Most e-commerce mattress stores have very liberal policies from 90 days to even a full year, to try out their product, and if for some reason it doesn’t work, requesting a refund and getting all of your money back. No questions asked.

In fact, the only way an online mattress company can sell mattresses is to offer an in-home trial which reduces the risk of buying to about zero, the only hassle being that you have to unroll  the compressed mattress when it arrives and drag it into your bedroom. But what about returning it if you don’t like it?

Early on, when my companies were selling online, if a customer didn’t like our product, they were required to give us a call, and we’d arrange a removal service to pick up the mattress and dispose of it, since you couldn’t resell a used mattress by law. The customer was asked to pay $99 to have the mattress removed, and they would be refunded the difference that they paid for the mattress purchase.

Soon, the e-commerce market for compressed bed in a box mattresses exploded and became extremely competitive, along with trial periods and the logistics of refunds and mattress disposal issues.

These days, customers who are dissatisfied can try out their new mattress for the length of the trial period, and if they just can’t bring themselves to keeping it, make a phone call, and most companies will simply advise them to donate the mattress, dispose of it (which occasionally requires you to pay for the removal fee), or simply keep it and park it in another room or give it to a friend.

What most online stores don’t want you to know is that they absolutely do not want to have to remove the mattress from your home, since the cost for that service can run $100-200 per mattress. 

It’s better for the company to factor in a realistic cost to account for 10% of their mattresses being returned, factor this into the cost you are paying, and simply tell the customer to “do whatever you like” with the mattress. And, that’s exactly the current model for returning your mattress during a trial period if you don’t like it…most of the time.

There are a few considerations you should be aware of ahead of time, before purchasing, though most companies out there are eager to make you happy and don’t want any negative reviews especially when it comes to the issue of returns and trial periods.

As a result of this though, many online mattress companies have been taken advantage of by what are called  “trial riders”, that is, customers who buy one mattress from a supplier, run the full length of the trial, claim they don’t like the product, are told to keep it, and order another mattress from a different company, repeating the process and building an inventory of mattresses to either give away, or in a few cases, actually sell them!

Seems like a lot of work, though, and actually, not many people have time to get involved with a scheme with that level of complexity- or dishonesty. What you do need to be aware of is the fact that most trial periods are long for a very good reason- the longer you keep a product in your home, regardless of whether you absolutely love it or not, the less likely you are to return it.

There’s a little bit of effort bringing the box containing your compressed and rolled internet bed into your house, and getting it out of the box and into your bedroom, putting the mattress protector on, buying and installing sheets, and with the stresses of everyday life factored in, statistics have shown repeatedly that the longer you keep it, the more it simply leaves your mind to even consider returning it.

We recommend evaluating the mattress over a much shorter timespan, like two weeks, and then deciding if you really like it or not. in fact, most people decide whether a mattress will work for them or not within 3-5 days, not six months.

Make sure what the trial period entails before you buy from a particular online vendor. In most cases, even if the return policy requires that you donate the mattress and submit proof donation, or that you show proof of disposal, you can get online and chat with a company rep and negotiate a trial period where you do not need to supply paperwork, and may be allowed to even keep the mattress. 

Also confirm that you can get a full cash refund, not be obligated to exchange your purchase for another model. This happened mostly in brick and mortar stores than it does online, but I’ve heard of it happening with e-commerce stores selling more expensive mattresses. 

But again, most retailers do not want to incur the expenses fo shipping products back and forth. Even though most sites offer “free shipping” the shipping fee is built into the price, and sometimes can cost anywhere from $100-150. 

You’re paying for the outbound shipping, but if you are returning the bed during a trial period, they have to eat the cost of the product itself, the advertising and marketing costs it took to get you to buy the product, the shipping, and the cost to pay their staff, their rent, and a whole host of other expenses.

Be aware that when you do call or get on a chat to let the company know you want to return it, they are prepared to try to convince you to keep it using a number of tactics. They will usually begin with a series of questions that provide clues into what you might it would take you to keep it. Typically, this will start as a discount program, typically offering you $100 or even more to consider keeping the mattress.

They are working your “tipping point”, which is the point where you will likely be comfortable with an adjusted price so that you don’t have to go through the hassle of either removing the mattress, or simply trying to get you to faithfully and honestly provide some contribution towards an equitable arrangement that allows you to keep the bed.

Once option that we have always like is the offer of a topper pad to place on top of the mattress to make it more comfortable. My advice is not to rule that option out. If they can offer you a topper pad for $100-150, and it’s natural latex or a really good 4lb density memory foam, it might be worth it. 

It can genuinely make a difference and improve the comfort of the mattress especially if you felt that the mattress was on the firmer side. Even better, its gives you a topper pad to take with you on the road if you need to, use on your guest bed, or to make your mattress taller, which could help with getting in and out of bed easier.

We advise also making sure that your retailer doesn’t charge a restock fee to return an item. Even though this is a kind of archaic and unheard of tactic these days, we have heard of it still being used in brick and mortar stores. 

A restock fee takes some of the pain out of the total loss of the sale. Most online stores operate on pretty thin profit margins, so we recommend being fair and honest with a company you do business with. Here’s our list of Trusted Dealers, a handful of retailers chosen form over 215 options. Each of these retailers offer bed in a box mattress options that range from memory foam, latex, digital air bed, coil and gel foam, and other comfortable bedding option.

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