Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mattress Buying: A Consumer’s Tale

We’re expecting a new addition to our family in the coming months and have decided that now is a good time to upgrade our queen-sized mattress to a king-sized one.  Right now things are already pretty crowded with my husband, me, our dog and two cats, and we’re aware that adding our new four-year-old son during lazy weekend mornings and bedtime stories could push us over the edge—literally.  It’s been ten years since we bought our last one and the mattress-buying landscape has changed a lot during that time.  

Our last mattress-buying experience consisted of us going into a store and coming out with a much more expensive mattress than we’d planned on (and one which I have not stopped complaining about since the day it was delivered), so I decided to do things differently this time.  We are going to buy a mattress online that comes in a box.  Despite having qualms about not being able to try it out in person, I’ve bought into the line that all the online mattress companies use: how can you really tell by lying on a mattress for 5 minutes in the store anyway?  All the online mattress companies I’m looking at offer long trial periods to figure out if you like it or not.  And what clinched it for me was this: if you return it, you don’t have to figure out how to stuff it back into the box—they’ll come get it from you for free.

After reading hundreds of reviews and relying on third-party online reviewers via YouTube, we’ve narrowed the dozens of options down and have picked our first (and, I hope, only) contender.  I always find the psychology behind why we make choices as consumers intriguing, and this experience gave me the chance to explore that yet again.  I knocked a top choice off the list when I discovered that the company had sued one of the third-party reviewers for (in a nutshell) being biased.  I had previously watched the reviewer’s video on that company’s mattress and had still kept it on my list, but after hearing that he was being sued (and reading some of the documents that had been filed against him, which he posted on his website), I immediately struck that company off our list.

I’d be the first to admit that I don’t have all the details on the lawsuit, but at a glance it seemed like a bullying tactic.  My decision not to buy from the company ultimately had nothing to do with their actual product.  It just seemed to me like the lawsuit was “un-sportsmanlike” and made me not want to support them.  In such a competitive space, I knew I had plenty of other options from companies who I perceived to be “playing” more fairly.  Scientific?  No.  Rational?  Probably not. 

How does that translate into our daily lives?  For me, it’s this: how a company makes a consumer feel can often be just as important as the quality of the product or service being sold.  We all know it, but this experience was a good reminder for me, as a service-provider, that the intangibles matter.

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