A defective mattress from Mattress Firm — and a partial refund

mattress firm

Jennifer Lehman’s foam sleeper sofa mattress from Mattress Firm isn’t what she expected. But instead of a full refund, she receives only about one-third of her money back. Is she entitled to more?

Q: I ordered a memory foam sleeper sofa mattress online from Mattress Firm and paid $170 for it. It arrived, and I followed the directions, which said to give it 24 hours to “inflate” or decompress after being packed. They advised me to give it a little more time if it’s in a cold climate.

The mattress was supposed to be 5 inches thick, but it was only 3 ½ inches thick, even after giving it four days to decompress. Also, the mattress protector had a broken zipper, so I could not unzip the cover to remove it, which means to wash it I would have to cut it off, rendering it useless.

I spoke with a manager at a local Mattress Firm store, and the company agreed to take the memory foam mattress back and to issue a partial refund, which I figured was better than nothing. But I’m still out $95 for a defective product that was not my fault. That manager said the product is considered soiled once it’s in the customer’s home — hence the only partial refund.

So much for the 120 night sleep well guarantee!

I tried emailing, to have a paper trail, but evidently, the company does not want a paper trail, as my emails went unanswered, so I had to call on the phone. The people at the 800 number wouldn’t help me at all, which is why I tried my local store, and at least got a partial refund. No one told me to give the mattress more time to decompress, and no one offered to exchange the mattress.

I filed a chargeback through my Discover card and they initially decided in my favor, but changed their mind without alerting me. I see the charge has reappeared on my credit card. When a product is defective, I believe the company should issue a full refund. Instead, they essentially told me to “get lost.” Can you help me get my money back? — Jennifer Lehman, Salt Lake City

A: I’m sorry about your faulty mattress. Mattress Firm should have delivered the memory foam sleeper sofa mattress you ordered, and to your satisfaction.

But what, exactly, did the company promise? You referenced the 120 night sleep well guarantee, which says, “We’re so confident we’ll match you with the right mattress, you can take it home and sleep on it for 120 nights. If it’s not the perfect fit, we’ll happily pick it up and pair you with a new one.” But it also contains some fine print.

Mattress Firm cautions that it will “take time” for your body to adjust to your new mattress, so you should sleep on it for a minimum of 30 nights to allow for this adjustment period. “If you are not comfortable within 120 nights of the original mattress delivery date, we will do our best to match you to the right mattress,” it adds.

It looks as if you returned the mattress and asked for a refund, so the 120 night guarantee wouldn’t have applied. As you note, none of the representatives with whom you spoke advised you to give the mattress more time. They should have done that.

You had two significant problems. The mattress was too thin and there was a broken zipper. Mattress Firm should have tried to replace it with one that worked as promised.
Your paper trail is frustrating. It looks as if Mattress Firm wanted to conduct all of its business by phone. Unless you record your phone calls, there’s no way to prove that an employee said — or didn’t say — something.

How to fix a Mattress Firm problem

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Mattress Firm executives on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site. A brief, polite email to one of them might have moved your case in the right direction. (You said you would have done so, except that our contacts were a little out of date. My research team fixed them after you contacted us.)

I don’t recommend filing a credit card chargeback unless the company tells you to get lost. Credit card disputes are the nuclear option for customer service problems. Once a company wins a dispute, you only have one move left: to go to small claims court.

I contacted Mattress Firm on your behalf. A spokeswoman responded, saying, “At Mattress Firm, we work hard to provide the best customer service to our guests.” After I shared the details of your case, the company refunded the rest of your purchase and offered you a corporate discount for a future purchase.

“We are happy to learn that Ms. Lehman is satisfied with this resolution,” she added.
So am I.

Posted in Problem Solved Tagged

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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