Clark Howard: Rest easy with the second-best mattress

Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ClarkHowardAmericans are obsessed with buying the right mattress because of a nationwide epidemic of insomnia. But don’t fall prey to the marketing. The best buys aren’t necessarily on the most expensive ones.

The August 2012 issue of Consumer Reports took a look at both mattresses and mattress retailers. The highest mattress rating of all goes to Tempur-Pedic (average price $2,465 for a queen-size mattress). But the real story here is the No. 2 mattress brand: the Original Mattress Factory (average price $855 for a queen).

Yes, that’s right — the second-highest rated product is one-third the cost of the industry leader. Now that’s a Clark Smart buy.

Price does not necessarily equate to satisfaction with mattresses. A more expensive mattress may not make for a better product.

When it comes to retailers, Consumer Reports ranked Original Mattress Factory stores as the top choice for customer satisfaction. Costco Wholesale was a close second.

The high placement for Costco may reflect its return policy on mattresses: A full money back refund without penalty and no time limit. That really makes Costco stand apart.

I love the warehouse clubs for mattress shopping, and I’ve long advised people to test the mattress right there in the store for an extended period. Bring a book or an iPad to Costco or Sam’s Club and pull those mattresses out or yank them off the walls. Then lay there for 15 minutes and see how you like the feel before you buy.

Meanwhile, in the same issue of Consumer Reports, they also crowned Tide Ultra HE powder as a laundry detergent Best Buy pick for high efficiency washing machines. It costs just 16 cents a load to wash your clothes. HE washers don’t require as much detergent as conventional washers; try putting in a third of what you’re used to.

-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs

Find more answers to your consumer questions at Listen to his radio show live 1-3 p.m. Monday through Friday on WSB 750 AM and 95.5 FM.

19 comments Add your comment

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Topp Dogg

August 23rd, 2012
8:19 am

Mattress Firm ,bad product,horrible service,terrible experience, buyer beware.


August 23rd, 2012
10:53 am

I found a Tempur-Pedic knock off on Overstock several years ago. I had slept on a Tempur-Pedic mattress at a hotel. I had the best night’s sleep I’d had in years with no back pain when I awoke. I did some shopping but didn’t want to spend almost $3,000 for one. I’ve been very pleased with it and if I remember right the price was $300-600 with shipping. Interestingly, the way they shipped the mattress was compressed and rolled up in a duffel bag like container. You cut open the container and the mattress slowly unrolls and expands.

Concerned Customer

August 23rd, 2012
11:37 am

Unfortunately, I bought a mattress from Mattress Firm. Fortunately, I had the purchase put on my credit card. Otherwise, I fear I would never have received credit for this horrible mattress. It was built nearly a year previous to when I bought it. It had a ridge going down the middle, one side was lower than the other – it felt like two beds pushed together. I wrote Mattress Firm and Sealy and got nowhere. Mattress Firm wrote to the Better Business Bureau to say their stores were “clearance” stores. There was no sign stating that on the store where I shopped. There were no “as is” signs on the beds. This company uses “sleight-of hand” methods. BEWARE!!

mystery poster

August 23rd, 2012
12:18 pm

I have bought a few mattresses from the Original Mattress Factory and have been pleased with all of them. When we decided to buy a king-sized bed, we bought the mattress and the bed from them. Great mattresses, great service. I would definitely use them again.

Lettuce and Cheese

August 23rd, 2012
1:12 pm

Clark would be very proud of the deal I got at Mattress Firm. There was a mattress a customer had returned that was only a “few days old”. It had them sell it to me at 10% off retail and got them to knock off another $25 due to some yellow stain in the middle of the mattress. I even got them to throw in free delivery. They will deal with you, just stick to your guns.


August 23rd, 2012
2:58 pm

Gee, 10% off retail, another $25 off and free delivery

And someone’s pee..



August 23rd, 2012
3:06 pm

Sorry, but I wouldn’t buy a mattress with a yellow stain……or any stain for that matter! Yuk!!!


August 23rd, 2012
3:18 pm

People – leave the troll alone. Lettuce and Cheese is just trying to get your goat.

Willy Shakespear

August 23rd, 2012
4:10 pm

“lay there”?

Boi Howdie

August 23rd, 2012
4:11 pm

Do you ever figure out what that yellow stain was? Was it a dry looking stain like pollin or was it soupy looking?

Doo yah Wreckin

August 23rd, 2012
4:19 pm

Heck, I’m used to second best. I did graduate from Tech ya know.

Paul Ryans college girlfriend

August 23rd, 2012
4:31 pm

Thanks again Clark. So happens I need a matress and some washin powders. Also, I really should renew that Consumers Report subscription.

Howard G.

August 23rd, 2012
6:00 pm

Went looking for a new bed last year, our previous bed was over 20 years old. We went into Original Mattress factory and were very happy with sales people and have an excellent product. We didn’t choose the most expensive or the most affordable we chose a mattress for us without any pressure. I will go back there and buy another bed.

The General

August 23rd, 2012
7:43 pm

We’ve bought our last three mattresses and box springs from The Original Mattress Factory. Pleasant shopping experiences each time, great products and good prices. I heartily recommend them to anyone, and have!

mystery poster

August 24th, 2012
8:35 am

Thanks for the laughs everyone, I needed it this morning.

#1 Foxy Lady

August 24th, 2012
12:13 pm

Used mattresses is the way to go if your looking for bargains!

el cheapo

August 27th, 2012
1:52 pm

Heck if you drive around 285 long enough you will find a “free” mattress just laying there.


August 28th, 2012
4:47 am

If you bought a Tempurpedic “knock off”, you did not get anything close to the real thing. Tempurpedic mattresses are sold with an impermeable zippered cover. If you want to save money on a Tempurpedic, buy one a couple of years old off of Craigslist, and buy a new cover for about $75. Put the cover on outside.

Buying a cheap mattress is never a good value. Comparing a Tempurpedic, with a 25 year useful life to a cheap innerspring mattress with a 10 year life is not a valid comparison. I like Clark on some things, but on most things he is just a cheapskate, writing what other cheapskates want to hear.

He knows the price of everything, and the true value of nothing.