The Mattress Mafia – Rip off on a Large Scale?
The mattress business is lucrative – Germans spend up to 1.5 billion euros every year on new sleeping pads. But anyone who compares prices quickly becomes suspicious – how can it be that the same branded mattress costs the same in many shops? Is there no competition in the mattress market?
Possibly not – at least suspects the Cartel Office. For some time now, several large mattress manufacturers have been investigated under antitrust law. The suspicion: illegal fixed price specifications that severely restrict the retailer’s price autonomy. Those who do not adhere to it should even be put under massive pressure by the manufacturers. Constructed delivery bottlenecks are the pretext to deliberately withhold the goods from unruly dealers – until they bow to the price dictation.
Price stipulations prevent competition
Of course, the manufacturers deny violating the GWB, but clear indications of illegal practices speak for themselves. Some manufacturers have price lists in which the prescribed prices are clearly stated: In furniture and bed stores, as well as in supposedly cheap mattress discounters, high profit margins are not uncommon. Others even print advertising materials with fixed prices for their dealers – the subtle indication that these are non-binding price recommendations appears only to appear in the footer.
The real loser of these price agreements, however, is the consumer: he cannot compare prices sensibly, and there is no real quality competition between manufacturers. After all, why should manufacturers strive to improve their products if they do not have to face the competition in direct competition for consumers? As a result, the market is dominated by overpriced models that do not have the quality that genuine competition from manufacturers would produce.
Wrong strike prices as a lure
However, the consumer is not only deceived by given fixed prices and real competition prevented on the mattress market – some mattress retailers have even more tricks up their sleeves. In contrast to fixed prices, however, these practices are legal.
For example, outrageous prank prices are given that in truth never applied to the mattress. Crossed out and supplemented with a lower price, they simulate savings that do not exist at all for the consumer – and thus encourage them to buy.
A popular tactic used by brand manufacturers is to offer well-known models with minor changes under different model names in discount stores and on the Internet at lower prices. However, the mattress core is the same for all versions. Furniture store customers put more money on the counter for the same mattress, although the difference to the discount store is only a minor thing. This model policy makes comparing prices extremely complicated.
What to look for when buying a mattress?
Even if all the big manufacturers deny it: press reports and the investigations of the cartel office suggest that there is hardly a brand manufacturer who can acquit himself from these practices. So what do you do when you need to buy a new mattress? Sleeping on the floor is guaranteed to be the worst alternative. There are also some things that should make an educated buyer suspicious.
Anyone who compares offers is better off being suspicious: an “Only valid today!” Offer that will be on the Internet for weeks is certainly not serious. Also, don’t be impressed by exorbitant strike prices – it’s very unlikely that that price ever applied to the product.
In the case of different models from the same manufacturer, it is worth taking a closer look at the equipment. Sometimes the cheaper model from the Internet only differs in insignificant details from the premium range from the furniture store. If you invest time in a precise comparison, you can save money.
Consumer deception after purchase?
Have you found a really cheap mattress on the Internet and ordered it straight away? Don’t automatically assume that you will get the bargain. There are dubious dealers who offer mattresses with attractive prices. If an interested buyer gets caught, the dealer will contact you by phone shortly after the purchase. The reason is always the same: Unfortunately, unfortunately, this particular mattress model is currently not available … but of course a much better model would be available – albeit at a higher purchase price.
Do not get involved in such sales practices, because most of the time you will be ripped off by shrewd salespeople. The situation is very clear when the mattress you have ordered is still offered as available on the Internet by the same dealer. Immediately withdrawing from the purchase is the only sensible decision in such cases.
It is to be hoped that the investigation by the Cartel Office will soon come to a conclusion. However, the manufacturers only face fines that are disproportionate to the profits made. It is seriously questionable whether the mattress mafia can be dissuaded from its practices in this way.
Don’t let yourself get ripped off when buying mattresses – 10 useful tips:
- Always compare mattress prices online and in specialist shops, and pay attention to any additional shipping costs.
- If you cannot find the model you want from other providers, look for a similar model based on the features and compare it.
- Don’t let yourself be put under pressure by “awesome offers”, but take time to compare the equipment with other products. There are always offers
- Do not be fooled by test seals: mattresses are so individual that you cannot generally say that, for example, a test winner is also the best mattress in your case. Instead, seek detailed advice. Important criteria here are, for example, body weight, sleeping position, existing back problems
- Don’t let yourself be tempted by too low prices on the Internet so that you don’t get caught by fraudsters: If the retailer tries to advise you on an “even better offer” after the purchase, for example with the pretext that “the mattress is not available at the moment is available ”, do not go into it, but insist on the delivery or the cancellation of the order. This is a scam that some internet shops try to lure customers with cheap offers.
- With online providers, always make sure that they are not a mailbox company: Check the imprint and also call the specified phone number for advice.
- Google for experience reports about the provider, dubious providers and rip-offs are discussed in most cases on the Internet.
- Make sure you have a right of return and exchange for at least 30 days. In stationary retail in particular, you have no way of returning or exchanging mattresses if they do not suit you without a written confirmation from the retailer.
- Always weigh up whether you actually need “great additional equipment” and don’t let the consultant, who in the furniture store are usually paid according to turnover, persuade you to do unnecessary things.
- For bundle offers (e.g. mattress + slatted frame), always check whether you actually travel cheaper than ordering the bundled products individually.