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Mattress Warranties – The Good, The Bad & The Stuff Nobody Tells You

By Jeff Frank


The mattress I am thinking about buying has a 10 year warranty. Is that a good quality mattress?


The mattress warranty period has absolutely no relationship to quality. The author of this article was a mattress buyer for a Top 50 furniture retail chain during the 1970s & 1980s. During a 4-year period, Mr. Frank purchased more than $20 million of mattresses.

Mattress warranties are not designed to protect consumers.

Mattress warranties are drafted by attorneys working for the mattress companies and retailers.

Warranties are designed to protect their clients, not consumers.

If you read all the way through your mattress warranty, you will discover numerous exclusionary clauses buried deep in the document.

Exclusionary clauses eliminate company liability for most of the things mattress owners complain about.

This includes protections that seem to be guaranteed in bold print at the top of the warranty document.

Fortunately, once the trial period is past, there are very few complaints about mattresses, especially if you have paid $1000 or more.

Warranties are marketing tools for mattress brands and retailers.

As marketing tools, mattress warranties have two distinct purposes. 1) The first is to encourage shoppers to buy mattresses.

The warranty provides a perception that mattress quality is backed by both the brand and the retailer.

Boldly printed claims appear to guarantee repair or replacement if any problems occur during the warranty period.

Although a few purchasers will eventually get upset when they discover that the warranty actually covers very little, most people will have no problems in the long run.

2) The second purpose is to encourage consumers to replace their mattresses every 8 – 10 years.

Most mattresses are currently backed by 10-year limited warranties.

An Amazon Basics mattress selling for less than $200 has a 10-year limited warranty.

Serta, Simmons & Sealy mattresses, selling for over $3000, also have 10-year limited warranties.

So do Tempur-Pedic and Stearns & Foster mattresses selling for $5000+.

Obviously, the 10 year warranty has nothing to do with mattress quality.

How can mattresses ranging from $200 – $5000+ all feature the same 10 year limited warranty? Ubiquitous 10 year mattress warranties are the result of a highly successful marketing campaign that began over a decade ago. The goal of this long-term marketing campaign has been to convince the public that healthy sleep requires mattresses to be replaced every 8 – 10 years.

Acceptance of the 8 – 10 year replacement cycle has spread throughout the furniture industry and the general public over the past decade.

All major mattress brands currently limit their warranties to a maximum of 10 years, regardless of the quality level or selling price.

Smaller brands often back their mattresses with 15 yr., 20 yr., 25 yr., or lifetime warranties.

Longer warranties also have no connection with mattress quality. Long-term mattress warranties are simply another marketing tool.

10 year warranties work for the biggest brands because it gets shoppers to buy mattresses more frequently.

New and smaller mattress brands require different marketing strategies. Often these smaller brands sell online and ship direct. Smaller mattress companies need to differentiate their innovative or technologically advanced products from the big legacy brands.

One of the most effective marketing strategies for these smaller brands is to offer longer warranties and trial periods.

It may seem that longer warranties and trial periods would increase cost and risk for the small brands.

Actually, the additional costs and risks are minimal.

Only a small percentage of customers will have encounter problems after the first year.

Most of these problems will not be eligible for warranty coverage.

Exclusionary clauses, buried deep down in the warranty document, void the most common types of complaints after the first year.

Longer trial periods also add few additional risks and costs.  Most mattress returns are made within the first 90 days of the trial period.

Only a very small percentage of customers will request returns after that.

Extending the trial period to 180 days or 1-year results in only a few additional returns.

Here are some examples of smaller brands that offer longer warranties and trial periods. Saatva offers 15-year warranties on mattresses, beginning at prices below $1000 & 20-year warranties on some of its more expensive products.

They also offer a 180-day free trial (twice as long as most major brands) with free returns.

Avocado takes their warranty marketing even further.

Their eco-friendly, $1000 organic mattresses come with a 1-year free trial & a 25-year warranty.

Nectar Sleep offers a lifetime warranty & a 1 year free trial period on mattresses beginning at $499. Many other small online mattress brands also offer similar extended warranties and trial periods.

I was a mattress buyer for a large retail furniture chain in the 1970s and 1980s.

At that time, mattresses were one of the slowest growing furniture categories.

Customers often kept their mattresses for 20 years or more.

Mattresses made today are far better quality than 40 years ago.

Mattress technology has exploded over the past decade.

Today’s mattresses are thicker, heavier and made with better quality materials.

Design and construction is superior, resulting in mattresses that last longer than ever before.

There are also far more brands and mattress technologies to choose from. 40 years ago, there were 5 major mattress brands and some smaller regional companies that sold generic store branded products.

Only 4 – 5 different coil spring mattress technologies dominated mattress construction.

Cheap foam and expensive latex foam mattresses existed, but represented only a very small percentage of mattress sales.

Water beds became popular for a few years, but eventually died out.

Today there are 200+ mattress brands and the number is constantly growing. Dozens of new mattress technologies have been developed over the past 15 years.

More are constantly being introduced.

40 years ago, many mattress warranties were created by the stores, not the mattress brands. The most expensive mattresses in any store were brands sold nationwide.

These included Sealy Posturepedic, Serta Perfect Sleeper, and Simmons Beautyrest.

The mattress brand company dictated selling price, label and warranty for national lines.

Identical national brand mattresses could be found at the same exact price in multiple stores within any local region.

Discounts and sale prices were not permitted on national brand lines, except for special temporary items, made exclusively for holiday sales.

Aside from national brand lines, mattress specifications, labels and warranties were all selected by store buyers. Mattress warranty periods were assigned by price.

The cheapest mattresses received 1 year warranties.

Warranty periods were increased as the selling price of the mattress increased.

There were always several models that were designed specifically for Sale events.

These were special models with identical specifications to other mattresses in the store, except for a much better looking fabric.

The labels listed prices that were double those of the identical mattresses with cheaper fabric covers.

The warranty label would specify a period that was much longer than the non-sale model.

These “special mattresses” were almost never sold at the full list price shown on the label. When it was time for a Sale event, the special mattresses would be advertised at 50% off.

At 50% off, the “special” mattresses could be sold with a full profit margin.

Variations of this marketing strategy are still used today. Check out my article Are 50% Off Mattress Sales Real?
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