How to Vet an Online Mattress Company

Online, direct-to-consumer retailers have revolutionized the mattress shopping experience. You no longer have to drive all over town, deal with pushy salespeople, and lie down on showroom floor models while fully clothed in an attempt to figure out what you want. Instead, you can do your research, compare options, and order from the comfort of your own home. Then you get to enjoy an extended tryout (Saatva’s is 365 nights) to decide if your new mattress is really right for you.

Just as you want to choose a quality mattress, you also want to buy from a reputable online vendor. Before you hand over your credit card data to an online mattress company, make sure you’re satisfied with the answers to these questions.

How easy is the online mattress company to contact?

Ideally, you’ll want to shop from an online mattress company that offers multiple methods of contact: A toll-free number and email address for customer support are the bare minimum, while real-time, online chat is a useful additional point of contact.

If you can’t find a physical address and phone number, or if the only contact available is an overseas phone number, be wary. Of course, there are legitimate companies all over the world, but at best, you could be stuck paying international long-distance rates to try and reach them. At worst, you could be dealing with an online mattress company that is based in a country where consumer protections like truth-in-advertising laws aren’t as strong, and customer service is not on par with your expectations. (Read more about why it’s important to know where your mattress comes from.)

Can you order-and return-a mattress with confidence?

Read through the site’s protocol for processing orders. How soon will you receive an order confirmation? How long will it take your mattress to ship? What shipping method will be used, and will you receive tracking information so you can keep tabs on your mattress? These are all crucial things to find out before you click “buy.”

It’s equally important that you read the online mattress company’s return and exchange policy carefully. A high-quality, reputable vendor will give you an extended period to test out a mattress-think months, not weeks, and will accept returns or exchanges if you’re not totally satisfied.

A good online mattress company also should stand behind the quality of its products. If you have to hunt around to find warranty information, that’s not a great sign. When you read over the warranty details, evaluate the company’s commitment to quality: You want a purveyor that will guarantee your mattress for years, rather than months, and that won’t charge exorbitant shipping fees if you need a replacement.

What do reviewers say about the online mattress company?

From books to bedding, user reviews are an important part of the online shopping experience. While reviews about mattress firmness, coolness, and comfort are inherently subjective, that doesn’t mean you should skip over the review section of an online mattress vendor. Positive reviews are a plus, but don’t just pay attention to what people say about the product; read about how current customers feel about the vendor’s customer service, how responsive they are if people have questions, and how helpful they are if a buyer needs to exchange or replace their mattress.

Even if reviews are positive, how can you make sure that they’re true? Researchers at Cornell University studied online hotel reviews to figure out how to flag fakes. While their findings aren’t directly analogous, they did make note of some quirks in how real versus fake reviews differ: Real reviews tend to use more concrete words and more nouns. Fakes, on the other hand, are more likely to use terms that tell a story, like “my husband” or “vacation,” and they use more verbs.

Is the online mattress company the “real deal?”

Don’t get scammed into buying a knockoff or counterfeit mattress. Many online bedding providers-Saatva is one of them-sell direct to consumers only, since that business model helps cut out overhead and allows us to give customers the best price. So if you see a mattress you’ve researched on a manufacturer’s site being sold by a third party online, check with the manufacturer to make sure the seller is legit; you might be dealing with a counterfeiter or unauthorized reseller. You could wind up with a poorly made replica and are unlikely to get any kind of customer support if you are dissatisfied.

Also, if you reach a site via a search engine, double-check the domain name to make sure you’re on the authentic manufacturer site; some unscrupulous operators set up websites with similar-sounding domain names you might not realize are fakes at a quick glance.

Navigating the new marketplace of online mattress companies might take some effort, but your time and diligence will let you rest easy-figuratively and literally.

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