Like most things in life, you get what you pay for and mattresses are no different.
You may be able to buy a so-called memory foam mattress or high-count pocket sprung mattress off the internet for a bargain price – but if it looks too good to be true – it probably is.
Of course, if price is your main priority then these offers can be extremely tempting. After all, why should you pay upwards of £1000 for a branded mattress when you can get what appears to be a similar one for as little as £150 off sites such as Amazon, eBay, Facebook or even from someone selling from the back of a van?
As it is International Fraud Awareness Week, we have outlined some questions you should ask yourself before you take out your wallet or click “add to basket” on that bargain mattress:-
Q. Is it absolutely clear who you are buying from and where the mattress is made?
A. If you’re buying online, check reviews of the product and the seller. Be very wary if the only contact details are a mobile phone number or a Facebook page. If there is a landline phone number, it’s worth calling it to see how it is answered – i.e. what company name do they use? If the contact email address is a Hotmail or Gmail one, then this may be an indication of a ‘one-man-band’ operation.
We would always advise against buying a mattress from the back of a van. At the very best you will be buying a product that is probably just about worth what you pay for it. At worst, it may not meet UK flammability regulations or even have an old spring unit and dirty fillings inside a new cover. Would a reputable company be touting for business by driving around housing estates and knocking on people’s doors?
Buy from a reputable retailer or e-tailer where you are more likely to receive professional advice, bona fide product guarantees and proper customer service should you have any issues with your purchase in the future. For added reassurance, it’s also worth looking for the ‘made by an approved NBF Member’ logo which is proof that the manufacturer has undergone rigorous independent auditing to certify they have robust procedures in place to ensure they are complying with, amongst other things, regulatory requirements on flammability, cleanliness of fillings and trade descriptions.
Q. Why are they selling this £899 mattress for just £150?
A. We are all tempted to buy something if we think we’re saving ourselves a lot of money. We’ve all got used to seeing ‘half price’ deals on beds and furniture but can something really now be 85% or 90% off its original price?
The likelihood is that the product has never been sold at this fictitious higher price and is being used illegally to make you believe you’re getting an absolute bargain. Many mattresses offered for sale by rogue traders will have a label on them with fictitious Recommended Retail Prices (RRPs). If you come across this type of practice, our advice is to walk away – but try and make a note of the company name or van registration and report it to your local trading standards office by calling the consumer advice line, run by Citizen’s Advice: 0808 223 1133.
Q. Are the specification details of the mattress made clear?
A. Mattress specifications and descriptions can be very confusing. If the mattress is made with pocket springs, is it clear how many are in the mattress? Numbers can vary from as little as 600 to many thousands and please note that the number of springs advertised will refer to the king-size product – that’s a 150cm (5ft) wide mattress. If you are buying a double size (135cm or 4’6” wide) then the number of springs will be pro-rata to the king size.
Another slightly under-hand method some traders use to confuse consumers is to include a number in the mattress model name to ‘trick’ people into thinking they are getting a higher specification than they actually are.
Just because a mattress model name includes a number in it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the number refers to the number of springs. For example a ‘Deluxe Comfort 3000’ mattress may state that it has individual pocket springs but it may not have 3000. Our advice is to ask questions or do your research before purchasing.
Similarly, where mattresses are advertised as having memory foam or latex foam in them, it’s worth establishing how much is used (is it only in the central, lumbar area of the mattress) or how deep the layers are. These materials are quite expensive so if the mattress price seems extremely competitive, there’s probably only a very thin layer or a small band across the middle of the mattress.
As you spend about a third of your life sleeping, do take your time over such a crucial purchase as a bed or mattress – don’t rush into it or feel pressurised to part with your hard-earned money until you’re confident you’re making the right decision.
First published 01.09.17 and updated 12.10.23