WASHINGTON — Sales of beds-in-a-box have doubled in the last four years, and a leading consumer group has explored the online mattress experience for you in case it’s something you want to try.
“There are many more options available on the market now,” said Sara Morrow, a deputy editor with Consumer Reports. “Many of these companies are competing to make a mattress that’s hitting a good price point and is also offering good performance.”
Consumer Reports finds that online mattress retailers try to make the experience as pain free as possible for consumers. They typically offer generous return policies, long trial periods and free shipping.
Prices are competitive and it’s easier to comparison shop.
With brick and mortar mattress retailers, product names for identical or near-identical models can vary among stores. Consumer Reports finds that online bed-in-a-box companies tend to offer just one model, but that lack of choice isn’t necessarily bad.
“Our tests have confirmed that many of the mattresses do perform well whether you’re a petite person, an average person, a tall person — and, no matter how you sleep,” Morrow said.
Most are made of foam. But bed-in-a-box offerings include innerspring and adjustable air mattresses.
The question is: Are they any good?
Consumer Reports’ independent laboratory testing and ratings show beds-in-a-box get good marks for durability, stability and firmness. Some of these mattresses perform at consistently “good” and “excellent” levels.
The Essentia Strami, for example, tops Consumer Reports’ ratings for all foam mattresses.
“Twelve foam mattresses that are beds-in-a-box have made our ‘recommended’ list,” Morrow said.
And it’s not impossible to try before you buy.
Some brick and mortar stores display products from the online mattress retailers. Target shows twin-size Casper mattresses and Leesa has a relationship with West Elm stores, which has locations in D.C., Baltimore and Tysons Corner.
Consumers can also check the websites of individual companies to see if and how they might offer an in-person, pre-purchase experience.
Rejects don’t have to go back in the box.
Beds-in-a-box are compressed, folded or rolled into what might seem like minuscule containers relative to their unleashed size. But Consumer Reports finds most rejected purchases do result in refunds and the mattresses don’t necessarily have to be returned.
“More than likely, they’re going to give you a refund. But also more than likely, it’s going to be your responsibility to remove that mattress from your house,” Morrow said.
Some companies will work with consumers to arrange for the mattress to be given to a charitable donation or to pick it up themselves.
“Always make sure that you’re familiar with the return policy,” Morrow said.
Should you also buy a box spring?
Consumer Reports advises mattress owners to follow the manufacturer recommendations. Ignore the manufacturer’s advice and you might void the product warranty.
Sticking with a traditional mattress? Take your time.
If you choose to buy a bed from a mattress store, Consumer Reports finds from its most recent survey of subscribers that the longer you try out a mattress at the store before buying it, the more likely you will be satisfied with your purchase.
The recommended tryout time: 10 to 15 minutes.