December 23, 2012

Mattress Warranties – What You Need to Know Before You Buy

If you’ve been mattress shopping lately, you probably discovered that the world of mattress warranties can be incredibly confusing and very often misleading.

Most reasonably intelligent individuals would think that a 25-year warranty is better than a 10 year warranty-that the mattress with the longer warranty should be better quality and last longer.  Unfortunately, the mattress business doesn’t usually work that way.

The ugly truth is that most 15, 20 and 25 year warranties are quite simply marketing ploys intended to make a sale.  Don’t make the mistake of associating length of warranty to a realistic indicator of how long the mattress is going to last.  Read the fine print.

Some back ground – What is a warranty meant to do?

A warranty is a written guarantee given to the purchaser of a new item by the manufacturer or dealer, usually specifying that the manufacturer will make repairs or replace defective parts free of charge for a stated period of time.

This all sounds great, but what happens when you throw in the added complexity of a “limited warranty” and the “pro-rated warranty”?   These kinds of warranties provide less repair and replacement conditions the longer you own the mattress.  As a result, the manufacturer is responsible for less and less the longer you have the item.

Most manufacturers will have a schedule for the amount of proration of a 20-year warranty (or 10-year warranty, or 15-year…you get the gist.)  Depending on the mattress model you buy, the warranty schedule will tell you the length of time that the company will repair or replace the mattress at no charge.  It will also tell you what you can expect to be charged for repairs and/or replacement after that time frame has passed.  Many times, this cost is based on a percentage of the retail price you paid for the mattress multiplied by the years you’ve had it.

Imagine you purchased a mattress for $2,000 with a 20-year warranty. You become aware of the mattress sagging during year 2, and contact the company to see what your options are.  A company rep comes to your home and fully agrees that you have a problem. Unfortunately, your warranty was only a FULL warranty for one year.

Since you’ve had your bed for 2 years, you must then pay 1/10th multiplied by 2 (the number of years you’ve had it) of the purchase price to get the issue resolved, as well as pay for shipping of the entire mattress to and from the repair facility.

You thought the warranty was a safety net: instead, you have to pay $400 plus shipping costs. Imagine what would costs you’d incur at year 14 or 18! At year 10, you’d spend the same amount just to get the mattress repaired that you originally paid for it, and even more with shipping costs.

What to look for in a warranty.

Better mattresses will provide better warranties. Ask to see the warranty in writing.  You should be able to study it in detail.  For the most part you will get a significant amount of legalese but it should be very simple to filter through the important points.  Look for phrases like “full warranty,” “limited warranty,” “prorated warranty”.  Also, look for “depth of mattress compression” and/or “body impression” (aka “comfort impression” and “body signature”) followed by 1½” or 2.0”.  These key terms will tell you what you are dealing with. In essence, how much of a body impression you must achieve to get your warranty to kick in.

The full warranty, non-prorated, not limited is the best you can find…period.

HOWEVER – Buyer beware:  There are a few companies that offer a full warranty with certain requirements that must be met before they will replace or repair their mattresses. Those requirements may or not be included in the warranty handout. Always ask “what’s the catch?”

Universally in our research on this subject, each company touting a full warranty will not repair or replace your mattress unless there is a body impression of at least a certain amount, typically 1½ inches.  They’ll measure the depth of the indentation, and if it’s not at least 1½ inches, they do absolutely nothing to remedy the issue. They consider that to be normal wear, and usually it’s stated right in the warranty. That’s where the usage of phrases such as body impression, comfort impression, etc. come into play.

Keep in mind, a body impression measuring ½ inch to 1-inch in depth can significantly affect proper neutral alignment.  So by the time you reach that magical 1½” of compression, you could be experiencing significant discomfort.

Some companies even have a hybrid warranty, which they call (for example) a “10-Year Full Warranty, 20-Year Pro-Rated Warranty.” When you read that, it’s almost impossible to think it’s not a great warranty – it sounds as though you have a 30-year warranty.  But dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that during the 10-year portion of the warranty, it’s not truly a full warranty.  Once again, any body impression must be at least 1½ inches deep for the warranty to go into effect…and there must be no staining on the mattress cover. Which brings us to:

Stain on the mattress cover and your warranty

Across the board, no mattress warranty we’ve run across will honor a warranty if there is any staining on the mattress cover.

Why?  Consider this scenario, and it’s one we hear quite often from customers discussing bad experiences with beds they’ve purchased in the past. You purchased a “top of the line” mattress just one year ago. It’s becoming more and more obvious that you have a very deep body impression in your mattress. Let’s say it measures 2” in depth.

You have your warranty and call for help. A representative comes out and agrees there is a problem, but then points to a barely perceptible sweat stain and tells you that staining of any sort voids your warranty.  At that point, you’re trapped either sleeping uncomfortably in that body impression or purchasing a new mattress with the hope that it will hold up better than the last one.

What if I don’t buy the box or foundation piece?

Staining isn’t the only issue that will void your warranty.  In many cases, if you don’t purchase a box spring or foundation piece along with your mattress, that will also void your warranty.  Some companies even go so far as to stipulate the box spring must match the mattress.  What does that mean?  If you’ve taken advantage of the “mis-matched mattress and box spring” promotions so prevalent now, you may have no warranty at all.

How bed frames can void your warranty:

Recently, we’ve become aware of warranties that discuss “improper support of the mattress in the bed frame.”

In order to keep the mattress stable and prevent sagging due to improper support, every bed frame that’s a Full size or larger should have center supports. Meaning, not only are there legs on the 4 corners, but also at least one going from the center of the frame to the ground. More center supports are, of course, going to offer even greater stability.

All this is true. But many companies will stipulate how many center supports must be used with the bed frame-usually 3 or 5. If you have a warranty problem and just one center support, your warranty is void. This just re-illustrates how very important it is to read through a warranty prior to your purchase.

The Sovn European Sleep Systems Warranty

Our objective is to keep things simple.  That’s why we offer a true Full 10-year Warranty. We don’t measure impressions – if there’s a body impression in one of our mattresses during the warranty period, we determine where the problem lies (top component? Bottom piece?) and replace it.  Period, end of story.

How can we do this?  First of all, our components are of vastly superior quality and durability. As a result, we simply don’t have warranty issues.

Since our mattresses come with a zippered cover, we can honor the warranty without taking any surface staining into consideration. We simply imbed the new component back into the same cover. And of course, if you’d like to purchase a new cover at any time, you’re more than welcome to do that as well.

Our mattresses are designed to be used with or without foundation pieces.  So, if you purchased only a mattress and no box spring you’re still covered.

Another point that’s important to mention: we don’t have weight limits in our warranty. If you weigh 380 lbs, you’re covered just as completely as someone who weighs 120 lbs.

Søvn European Sleep Systems has the best warranty in the business: we aren’t looking for a loophole in the fine print; we just want you to feel less anxiety about your purchase.

Posted by April Reeves

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