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Full transcript: The Wirecutter’s Kevin Purdy talks mattress e-commerce on Too Embarrassed to Ask

“They are usually aiming at what they call a medium-firm mattress, which is like the medium-rare steak of the mattress world.”

Casper Celebrates In LA Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Casper Sleep Inc.

On a recent episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask, Kevin Purdy, a writer for the Wirecutter, talked with Recode’s Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode about whether consumers should buy their mattresses from the internet.

You can read some of the highlights from their discussion at that link, or listen to it in the audio player above. Below, we’ve posted a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.

If you like this, be sure to subscribe to Too Embarrassed to Ask on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn or Stitcher.

Transcript by Celia Fogel.

Lauren Goode: Kara, welcome back from Germany.

Kara Swisher: Thank you. Danke.

LG: I didn't think you were going to make it, but you flew in last night.

KS: I know, I took a plane so I’d get here so quickly. Right across the globe. I left actually Oktoberfest and went right to the airport.

LG: Did you really? For me?

KS: Yeah, they were drinking at 9 in the morning, so I had a good buzz on by 10:30 when I had to catch …

LG: So what did you do, just take Concord here to get here on time?

KS: No, I took a regular plane. It was nice, though. I was in first class, which was lovely. I watched movies.

LG: Wow, Vox splurging for first class.

KS: No, it wasn't Vox, it was the lovely people who had me over there. Bits & Pretzels.

LG: Is that a tech conference?

KS: Yeah, it's a tech conference. We're big in Germany. Recode is big in Germany. It was really interesting. It was a roomful of geeks — not geeks, startup founders — like an enormous beer hall at Oktoberfest. Everybody has these halls, and you go to a hall and you reserve tables and stuff. But this was 5,000 startup people all dressed in lederhosen but me. Or dirndl outfits. Including, I ran into one of the founders of Airbnb in a lederhosen.

LG: Really?

KS: And I interviewed Richard Branson onstage at this event the day before.

LG: In lederhosen.

KS: Not me, him. They wanted to get me in a dirndl or lederhosen, but I declined.

LG: Well, that sounds like it was rather smart.

KS: Everyone looks good in lederhosen, I hate to say it. It really was ... I thought it wouldn't be. But everyone's wearing it there in Munich. Like you walk around and every single person's in lederhosen. Late at night everyone's eating wursts at the train station before they go home after they're drunk as hell. And everyone's in lederhosen, and I have to say, they look good. They look good.

LG: I went to an Oktoberfest in Oakland recently, and it was not like that. It was a very hip Oktoberfest.

KS: It was lovely. They have, like, all these weird heart-shaped cakes, kuchen, and then they have …

LG: Were there smart boots? Like it's a tech conference, I would imagine they would have these smart steins or something like that.

KS: Nein, nein, nein. They had giant steins of beer. You know, your typical stuff. And literally I was drinking beer and eating a giant piece of chicken, which was delicious because the Germans really know how to cook a chicken, at 9:30 in the morning. That's when it started.

LG: That sounds amazing.

KS: Yeah, I had a great time.

LG: I'm really grateful you left all of that to come back here and do the podcast.

KS: You know, after a while, giant steins of beer ... there's only so many you can drink.

LG: After a while, life calls you back.

KS: Yeah. So here I am.

LG: Well, these past few weeks on Too Embarrassed to Ask we've talked about sex, drugs and Apple products.

KS: Ah, yes.

LG: A reminder that if you missed last week's episode about sexting with Caitlin Dewey from the Washington Post, you can find that at iTunes, Google Play or recode dot net. I will note, we taped that …

KS: We taped that in D.C. I was in D.C.

LG: We taped that on Tuesday of last week and then another Anthony Weiner scandal broke.

KS: Really?

LG: After that ... let's not even get into it. But this week we're taking a break from vices and we're talking about something that might not make you think tech necessarily, but it's something that a lot of people have been asking us about. And yes, there is a tech angle, or at least an e-commerce angle.

KS: Yes, we're going to be talking about mattresses, specifically online mattress companies, and there are a lot of them. If you live in New York or San Francisco, you've seen ads for them all over subways and around the city, and there's all kinds of changing ways we buy our mattresses. And I'm pretty sure I read advertisements for some of them on this podcast and also on Recode Decode. In the interest of full disclosure, we have run ads for the online mattress company Casper on this show, Recode Decode and Recode Replay, and for a different company called Helix Sleep on Recode Media with Peter Kafka. However, those companies are not sponsoring this podcast, and like all our advertisers, they have no say over the editorial content of this or any other episode.

LG: Oh, that's good. The lawyer standing over your shoulder seems to have relaxed a little bit.

KS: [laughs] Yeah.

LG: So we are bringing in an outside guest who is an expert on this topic.

KS: A mattress expert.

LG: Kevin Purdy is a writer based in Buffalo, N.Y., who has researched the online mattress industry extensively, and he has written about it for the Wirecutter. Kevin, thank you for joining us. Welcome to Too Embarrassed to Ask.

Kevin Purdy: Well, thank you for having me.

LG: So we're going to get to some questions from our readers about the actual products because we got a lot of questions about these mattress companies, and we're also going to tell you what the Wirecutter's top pick was. But first, let's talk about the business of these online mattress companies. Why are so many of them, ahem, springing up.

Oh my god. There's no springs in them anymore! Kook. [laughter]


KS: Oof. There's no springs.

LG: [laughs] That was the worst dad joke ever, and I had to get it in there.

KS: Oh my god.

LG: Eric is laughing.

KS: Anyway. Go ahead, Kevin. Let's hear about the business. Why are they springing up? They've suddenly sort of appeared out of nowhere.

Sure. The main reason is that buying a mattress is a terrible experience that we all had to live with because there was no other way to do it. Like so many internet startups, that's kind of where they come in. They have taken the experience, with the combination of other factors, too, including the progress of drop-shipping and logistics that a lot of companies are taking advantage of. Online marketing, people's just general familiarity and comfort with buying something online, sight unseen. Which, you know, Amazon and other companies have helped propel forward, and now we arrive at this point where the experience of buying a mattress through the traditional store method, which if you've ever done it before, going to a store, super aggressive sales people, confusing names and brands that you can't price match or even compare between stores, sitting on something for four minutes and saying, "Yeah, this is good for 10 years." So that experience now, if compared to buying something you don't even really want to think about that much anyways and you have no expertise in, here come these companies that say like, "Hey, we've done all this research; we've got this product that is the best for most people." Or, "the universal comfort mattress." Asterisk, footnote, get to that later. [laughter] Here they come, and for anywhere between $500 and $1,000, they ship it to your house, and most of us are now pretty familiar with our UPS person by now. They show up, it's in a box, you unwrap it, it's this really cool thing, it gathers up the air again and it expands. And you're done. You're done buying a mattress. You didn't have to blow an entire Saturday or two of them to do it. So yeah. I think the industry kind of springs from a lot of movements inside the industry, but also a lot of external factors that have made buying a mattress online feasible and desirable.

LG: So you mentioned ease of use and ease of process, which we're going to get to. But you also mentioned this industry that existed, or has existed, for a long time. Who dominates the mattress industry right now? Not of the online companies, but of the sort of legacy mattress companies?

Sure. The big four, which are actually really the big two. Simmons and Serta ... well, it's the three S's and the T actually is the industry term for it. Simmons and Serta, they're theoretically competitive brands, but they're actually both owned by a private equity firm that purchased them in 2012. And then Tempur-pedic and Sealy. Tempur-pedic actually bought Sealy in 2012 as well. So it's four brands that live under two ownership stakes. And together, all put together, they control about 77 percent of the traditional mattress market. By comparison, you know, I think some of the newer upstarts have started bragging about hitting their million mattress mark or, you know, 200,000 to 400,000 in a quarter — I'd have to double-check my math on that — but, you know, the big mattress firms are just shipping millions of them every year. So it's a very slow process, but the upstarts are starting to cut in a little bit. But the big firms run the whole market pretty much. They cut themselves up into various sub-brands, and they have a gazillion lines and models that may or may not be different from each other. They usually have exclusives with retailers and department stores, thereby creating even more brands and confusion …

KS: Confusing for the consumer.

LG: Yeah. That's intentional.

KS: So how did these other ones weigh in here? Because that's not something I'd think, mattresses. Obviously Amazon has changed the industry, with people allowing things to be delivered to their home or wanting them regularly to be delivered to their home. But this is not a product that you would say, "Ah, yes, a mattress." It's enormous, first of all, and obviously they've done some cool things about getting the air out of them and putting them in these boxes. I've unboxed one, and it is pretty cool. But where did they come from and who are they?

The mattresses or the companies?

The companies and the mattresses. The companies who make the mattresses.

Sure. Well, it's funny because the companies themselves are a collection of CEOs, venture backers, people who are really good at making sleek-looking websites, and you know, usually some person inside who's either a former mattress person or some kind of designer. They always like to tout, like, their MIT engineers and stuff, like many companies do these days.

LG: "Made by NASA."

Sure, yeah. Oh yeah. NASA everywhere. But they are generally contracting with an established American regional mattress maker. Not any different than any Tempur-Sealy- Pedic or Simmons are doing. They just find a maker of mattresses, contract with them to make their one mattress that they've ... one or two or three mattresses they've created, and then they sell them directly to consumers, which allows them to cut out all that markup at the middle. But as to where they actually come from, from whence they spring, I guess the same place that a lot of startups come from these days. Incubators, meetings of people at other companies, things like that.

LG: And which of the online mattress companies that we're hearing so much about, which was the first one to really stand out. Who was the disrupter that led the pack?

Oh my.

KS: They all seemed to appear at once.

I guess you could say that there are some ... It depends on how you describe dinosaurs. Like ... [laughter] when they turned into birds. There were companies like Bed in a Box and Amerisleep which were doing ... I guess you would say were into it before it was popular, way before 2010. But starting in 2010, 2012-ish, you start seeing companies like Tuft & Needle, Casper, Leesa, things like that. The companies that have gained so much presence and name recognition through things, like advertising on podcasts.

KS: But not just there. I've seen them everywhere. They're all over San Francisco and all over certain cities. You see their ads everywhere. And how are they different? The prices are lower. It's just easier, I guess. But let's talk about, is the quality any different? Is there a difference between polyfoam and memory foam in terms of the cost? Or is it just the mattress business just has really been a brand game and now these guys are just taking the brand out of it essentially?

Sure. good question. Well, if you ask the companies, of course, every one of them is different and better and the only one anyone needs. But the foam and the making of foam mattresses is something that's been around for a very long time. It's how Tempur-pedic got into the market and suddenly became a huge thing. They were offering foam mattresses and kind of caught the other companies asleep at the wheel. As for these newer companies that are direct consumer online focused, they're making a product that is aimed at the most people, and so to do that, they're kind of creating what I ... they are usually aiming at what they call a medium-firm mattress, which is like the medium-rare steak of the mattress world [laughter]. Everyone …

KS: Everyone's comfy with it. You don't dial it, whatever.

Yeah, everyone's pretty comfortable with it.

KS: Those dialing mattresses, I don't even understand.

Yeah, on a bell curve it would hit the most people, because something like ... let's see … 60 to 70 percent of people sleep in their side. Fifteen to 18 percent of people sleep on their stomach. And 12 to 15 percent of people sleep on their backs. So you pick out a mattress that's going to be, like, well, it's soft enough for most side-sleepers, but still a little bit, there's a layer in the middle to give the back-sleepers the support they want. Then you market it. And you say like, "Hey, would you rather just buy this one mattress that our engineers say is great for most people."

KS: So, Kevin, you say in an article on Wirecutter that these online mattress companies do a fair bit of exaggerating themselves. What do you mean by that?

The exaggeration comes from the terms that they use to describe how their mattress is going to work for Everybody. Capital E, Everybody. Casper has used the term "perfect mattress." Tuft & Needle has said that it "adapts to every individual's body." And Leesa, the one that I recommend, actually, in the article, in our guide, has a "universal feel." So anyone who has worked in the mattress industry, designed a mattress, tested them, like Nick Robinson at Sleep Like the Dead, which is just an amazing, nerdy mattress website, will tell you that there's no such thing as a mattress that works for everybody because if there was, there would only be one mattress in the industry.

LG: It would be the platonic form of mattress.

Sealy would just have this thing locked up, and they'd be walking away with like their Kleenex mattress. But yeah. So the best that any company can do is just hope to kind of make something like 85 percent of people happy. And you really should shop for the mattress that you think is going to best adapt to your sleeping style. When we did our surveys to write our guide, and when I talk to people, I learned a lot about the breadth of American sleep habits. I mean, some people, I've asked them like, "Hey, do you sleep on your side, your back, your stomach? How do you do it?" And they would tell me about, like, "Oh, I'm a cigar roller." And I'd say, "I'm sorry?"

LG: What does that mean?

Yeah, like they literally would find themselves waking up at every point in the night on a different side. You know, just like spinning and spinning, and they'd say, "I wake up with the sheets completely wrapped around me." [laughs] So if that's you, I don't know that the universal-fit mattresses are going to work for you. That's really what it is, is just the idea that a lot of startups, to undercut and disrupt the industry they're in, will just describe the industry that they exist in as full of fat cats just making money off of people who don't know any better. And, you know, it's hard because I do see some of that …

KS: It's a good marketing thing. It's a good marketing idea to do that, though. Because everyone does feel bad about buying mattresses, I think.


LG: It's kind of similar to the Warby Parker model in some ways. There's this duopoly, they come in and say, "We're going to disrupt this industry," but that's also a part of their storytelling behind it.

KS: You know, their glasses aren't as nice as others. They break a little more. But they're not that bad. Like, you know what I mean — that's the thing.

There's always something …

KS: There's always something, but they're pretty good. And especially the price. Like $90 is really, really good. So how much money do they lose on returns? Because when they say you can return it for free, I read it, I'm like …

LG: Can you imagine packing it back into the box?

KS: Packing up a mattress. What do you do? You put it outside and put a sticker on it? Like, what the hell? I wouldn't even know ... no one returns them.

The shorthand is, you know, most of the time there's a 100-night sleep trial, and if you don't like it ...they make you sleep on it for 30 days, by the way, because they want to make sure that you adjusted to it and you've really given it a shot, but then somewhere in the 100 days, you can return it. And they use the word “return” just to assure you and get you through the … what do they call it, the funnel? They get you through the buying process. And then returning is actually contacting the company, telling them exactly why you don't like it, and then they usually either have it recycled or donated to a local company near you. And if you live in one of the major cities, this is real easy for them. They have just lists of companies that can do this, or nonprofits or churches that will take mattresses. So usually they just send someone to your house to pick it up and get it recycled or donated to charity, or if they can't do that then they usually contract with a mattress disposal firm.

LG: So you're not actually shipping it back to the company directly. And that's probably just too much of a hassle for them.

No, they explicitly demand that you do not send them back. I believe that one of the companies that …

LG: Right. I can't think what I'd do with a bunch of dirty mattresses.

Yeah. One of the companies actually in some article I read said that one guy actually did it and then asked them to reimburse him, like, "Hey, I sent this back to you by UPS, please give me my $243." [laughter] Or whatever it was.

LG: Wow. So how important is the up-sell for some of these online mattress companies? Because some of them now also sell pillows and sheets and other things having to do with bedding. How big of a business is that for them?

I'm not certain because they ... it's such a newer category for them to have these things. I know that they make margin on their mattresses even though they are touting how they're not like the mattress industry and they make no margin. They do. The origin story of Tuft & Needle is supposedly that they found a $3200 mattress and they found that it only cost $300 to make. You know, even at $300 they're still making money off of these mattresses. And even with the return process, they still do. So I don't know how much it's important for them to up-sell, but I imagine like most companies they want to just kind of hedge their bets, diversify their revenue base and kind of get you into the brand, start trusting them for more things.

LG: Right. Yeah, I've seen people, you know ... when we put out a tweet online soliciting questions from our readers and listeners about this topic, some people wrote back and were talking about things like pillows and dog beds and other stuff that they sell. So it does seem like it's kind of smart from a brand recognition perspective.

Oh, the dog bed.

Yeah, someone said, "Why did they make a dog bed?" And I wrote back, "And not a cat bed. Am I right?" I mean come on! There should be a cat bed if they're making a dog bed. But you hear about stuff like that and you realize the brand recognition is kind of working because people are associating the mattress company with things other than just mattresses, too.

KS: I guess. Cats don't need a bed.

LG: No, they don't. They just sleep wherever the heck they want.

No. Nor do dogs. They just want to sleep in your bed.

KS: Exactly. I woke up this morning with two cats on my head. My head is an excellent cat bed. Anyway. Now we've got some questions and answers from readers. We got quite a few.

LG: Yes, we have so many!

KS: Quite a few people have mattress questions.

LG: People are really excited about mattresses.

KS: So Lauren, why don't you take over?

LG: Well, I'm going to throw in my question first, if that's okay.

KS: Not really, but all right.

LG: Just quickly. So Kevin, the Wirecutter picked Leesa — that's L-E-E-S-A — as their top pick. After hours of literally sleeping on the job.

KS: [laughs] Would you stop?!

LG: Kara is getting so mad at my dad jokes [laughs]. You love them.

KS: I do not.

LG: Okay, before we get into the reader questions, why did you guys pick Leesa?

We recommend the Leesa because we thought it was the best for side-sleepers, pretty good — or even really good — for stomach-sleepers, and okay to decent enough for back-sleepers. So if you're a couple and you're split between all those kinds of sleeping, we thought it did pretty well. We liked the hug and the feel of the mattress …

KS: What's the hug of a mattress? I'm sorry.

The hug is how when you lay on it how it comes up around you.

KS: Ah, the hug.

I mean, you could say sink.

LG: Kara doesn't get hugged enough at home.

KS: [laughs] I get way too much hugging. I'd like to have a little less hugging.

You have to choose how wine sommelier you get about this, but it's how it comes up around you, how it feels on your skin and side …

KS: [French accent] It's a hug, it's a mattress, oh ho [laughter]. Sorry.

And we also like the company's return policy, the look of the mattress, the shopping experience and other things that if you were certain about it, we thought ... we tested it all out and thought it was pretty good.

LG: All right. Leesa is the top pick. Kara, would you like to read one of the next questions?

KS: Yes, I shall. Thank you. "How similar are the mattresses?" This is from George Jones @villageorge. "They seem to be comparable, i.e. Casper, Leesa, Simba." And I guess he didn't mention the other one, the Tuft & Needle.

LG: I never heard of Simba.

Oh sure, and there's …

KS: It's a lion in a very good movie. Ahhhh dahan yaaaa.

LG: Oh my god. Straight to Broadway, you.

KS: I know, exactly. So how similar they are really?

They way that they're made, there's six inches of support foam, a certain amount of foam over that. They come out about 10 inches. There's a machine that folds them up and sucks all the air out of them, wraps them in plastic, puts them in a box. So in that regard, they are very similar. It's an industry practice that has just been adapted and adopted by numerous makers. In terms of how they feel, like what the end product is like. I found that they were notably different, just picking five or six of them to test out. I thought that Tuft & Needle was much more firm than the Casper or the Leesa. A lot of reviews online will point that out, too. I thought that Ikea's mattresses — and you know, one can tend to think of Ikea as just pretty good at making average things for most people — their foam mattress that we tried for a little lower price point, but we thought, "Hey, what the heck?" Just … man. Just a slab of rocks. Foamy rocks.

KS: Yeah, that's how they like it in Scandinavian countries, I guess [laughs].

They might.

LG: They're also supposed to be really happy people, so I don't know.

KS: They are happy. They don't sleep a lot. They live, live, live.

For all the detail in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” he doesn't get into that …

KS: Herring! Herring for all!

I find that they are different, and I think it depends on what you …

LG: What you like.

Which two brands you compare.

KS: But no Ikea.

There are expensive Ikeas we didn't get to try. But at the price points that we looked at, we didn't really like the Ikea mattress as much, no.

LG: Okay. The next question is from Greg. He's @supersetgreg. He asks a very emphatic question, "Why in the hell are they always on sale?" I think that's a good thing.

KS: Hmm, why in the hell are they always on sale?

LG: You know, most people would say, "Why in the hell are they so damn expensive?" And he was like, "Uhhh, sales. I hate sales."

Presumably the traditional mattresses, not these. Although they're both a little on sale.

KS: No, I think these, too. They're always having a break on those sites. I read that stuff, I know.

LG: They're relatively inexpensive.

KS: Yeah, they are. So why do they feel ... why are they always on sale? Are they just a fake price, the first price?

I'm not sure myself. Someone who's smarter at marketing than I am would be able to tell you why a company persistently says, "This mattress costs $850 but you get a $25 Target gift card and also $75 off!" Like, I assume that's a marketing psychology thing. They're not too often on sale. We watch prices very closely at the Sweethome and the Wirecutter, and so my Slack channel would be pinging all the time if I had to constantly adjust prices or update about sales. So they don't move around too much, but they do do a little bit of that kind of "it costs this much, wink wink, here's a gift card" thing sometimes.

KS: All right, next one is @HunterMoliver —- that's an interesting name — "What is the longevity of these new Casper-like mattresses compared to the traditional mattress? If there's any difference at all?"

Sure. They're about even now. I think old-style spring mattresses that were two-sided, where you could flip them over, used to come with sometimes like 20-year warranties. I guess the joke being, "Feel free to drive your mattress back to the store and tell me you don't like it." But these tend to come with somewhere between five- to 10-year warranties. One thing I point out in that blog post you mentioned earlier is that a 10-year warranty form a brand new mattress startup company is kind of a gamble. You know, you're hoping that the company doesn't get bought up six different ways or you know …

KS: Closes.

Yeah, among these 50 mattress companies that are going to start up.

KS: It happened this weekend. We wrote about Dot and whatever.

LG: Dot & Bo furniture company.

KS: Yeah, they closed and now we have all these readers writing in about getting their money back.

LG: Although if a mattress company closes — I'm going to make another really bad dad joke — what kind of support do you need going forward? [laughter] But in all reality ... Eric is cringing right now. But what kind of, like …

KS: No more of those, do you understand?

LG: Okay, I used up all my dad joke cards.

KS: So you don't know. The longevity is you probably get these things quicker than you used to.

Well, yeah. Consumer Reports, which we are, you know, we do read and we do check out their stuff, and what they recommend ... they have done tests with machines that supposedly simulate the sleeping of someone on a mattress for years and years and years, and they said that, you know, they barely detected any changes in the mattresses they tested after what they called seven years of simulated use. But then, you know, my own inner dad will tell you, it's going to vary based on your size, how you sleep, the kind of foundation you have underneath it, etc, etc.

LG: Yeah, absolutely.

It depends, but they seem about on par with traditional mattresses right now.

LG: That is excellent to know. Okay, the next question is from Geraldine Gray, @GeraldineGray on Twitter. We are back to a business question. "What's the profit margin on mattresses in stores and are they worth the price tag?" And then she also notes, "We have Tuft & Needle."

Sure. I looked into ... I read as many quarterly reports and year-end financials from the mattress companies as I could stand to. It's hard to break it up but, and it's hard to just cite a profit number or whatnot, but basically a lot of folks cite it at about 30 or 40 percent for wholesalers of traditional mattresses, and another 30 or 40 percent margin for the retailers. The companies themselves, like Tempur-Sealy, their gross profit margin goes between 37 and 53 percent in the last decade or two. And you know sometimes 50 percent or above for the other big companies. So, “healthy” is the best way to put it. They obviously have a lot of retail, but, you know, their gross profit is very high. So minusing anything that we're not seeing, all that smoke and mirrors and the Tempur Cool Breeze Flex Supreme branding does seem to work for them.

KS: All right. Almost Spooky Evan — what do you mean almost? You can't be almost spooky — @evcon: "Which one is easier to move?" Meaning are they heavy. The heaviness of them.

Oh, thank you. Great question. I'm actually really disappointed that almost none of the mattresses I tried out from new companies had handles on them. I have no idea why, other than guessing that it's just a manufacturing thing — harder to put handles on or a little bit more expensive. But I miss handles, and I miss even those awkward rope things that used to come out of the sides of mattresses. Those like thick, plasticky ropes that would just cut between two grommets on the side.

LG and KS: Yup, yup.

Because even though you don't turn these mattresses over anymore, you still should rotate them every three to six months. And so I don't know — it's not a bonding experience to wrestle a big foam monster with your partner [laughs].

LG: No, it's kind of frustrating. And none of them had handles of the ones you tested?

Yeah, of the newer brands. I think Ikea did, actually.

KS: Casper doesn't.

LG: Oh, so Ikea. Hard as a rock, comes with handles. A real tradeoff there.

KS: All right, next question. Lauren?

LG: So this question you already answered, but thanks for sending it in, Jeff Kushmerick, @kooshdog. He says, "What do they do with returned ones? #shudder #motel6" We did already answer that earlier in the podcast, Jeff. So thank for sending in your question.

Although, real asterisk, it just depends on where you live and what families are near you. There are some towns and municipalities in areas where they absolutely refuse to accept foam mattresses. So sometimes your mattress does end up just going off to the great graveyard in the sky, but generally they get reused.

LG: Next question?

KS: Jared Kane. @jarednkane. "I paid for a Tempur-pedic and just want to feel justified in my purchase versus Casper ghost bed, etc. Please help." So he wants to feel justified.

Sure. The easiest way to do that is to take the purchase price and divide it by the number of nights you're going to sleep on it and say to yourself, "You know, if I really like this mattress, then was it crazy to pay this much per night as opposed to this much per night to sleep on it?" And you might find out no, it really wasn't.

KS: You totally got cheated, Jared. No, I'm kidding [laughter].

LG: Sorry, Jared.

KS: You sucka.

LG: Hope you sleep well tonight.

It really depends.

LG: Don't lose sleep over it, Jared.

KS: Oh my god, you put another one in! She made another joke when we weren't' watching.

LG: I'm sorry, Kevin, go ahead.

KS: I'm going to give you a little shut-eye in a minute. Ha ha.

LG: So that's the best way to do it. Kara, when did you last buy a mattress?

KS: Recently. I bought a Tempur-Pedic.

LG: How much did you spend? Do you mind if I ask?

KS: It was expensive. I always get really, really good mattresses.

LG: Did you do the math in your head for how many nights you're going to sleep on it?

KS: No. I do not care. I do not care about the price of a mattress.

LG: Kevin, what was the last one you bought?

KS: I buy it here in San Francisco, McRoskey. There are some others. I like them.

I bought a mattress from a local mattress company, like regional to Buffalo, when I was out of college. And I slept on it into my marriage. And then we bought a Tuft & Needle right before I even got assigned this guide.

KS: Are you pleased?

Jumped right into it.

KS: Are you happy with your Tuft & Needle?

It turned out that we ended up buying a Leesa instead.

LG: There you go. See.

KS: I met the people who made my mattress in San Francisco.

LG: Really? That's so artisinal of you.

KS: I know. I got an artisanal mattress is what I got.

LG: Wow. We went to this place in Palo Alto …

KS: But I'm worth it. I am worth it.

LG: You are worth it. And you sleep on it.

KS: My butt is worth it.

LG: This old shop in Palo Alto that's been around for, I don't know, more than 25 years, where the guy, he sells traditional mattress brands. But it's funny because he runs the shop, he owns the place, he does all the deals. And then he's the one that shows up at your house with like the mattress strapped to his back. And his name is Armando. He drops it off. That's the last one I bought.

KS: The only thing about buying the expensive mattress is that things pee on it. My kid when he'd crawl into bed peed on the mattress several times, and the same thing with pets. So that's the only issue with mattresses.

LG: Yeah.

KS: That's why you might want to replace them.

LG: Yeah, we should do a whole other podcast on this.

KS: No, we won't, but anyway, next question.

If only there was a site that could recommend the best mattress cover.

KS: It doesn't matter.

LG: Yes, like the Sweethome, which is one of my favorite sites. Okay, the next question is from @anoushasakoui, similar to the last question. She says, "Yes, I need a new mattress. I don't want memory foam, I don't want to pay $3,000," and then she writes, "Help." This is so funny because we never get questions from people for this podcast that are like "help me." And people are really passionate about their mattresses.

KS: Oh my god that was another joke shoved in there somewhere.

LG: No, I wasn't even trying to be …

KS: And yet you did.

LG: You're the one that thought about passion and mattresses, not me.

KS: Okay, whatever. Go ahead. What are you going to do to help her, Kevin.

We tested for our guide ... we specifically stuck to fold-and-ship mattresses, sub-$1,000, because that's what we wanted to test. In looking around at the category and choosing what we were going to test, we found that there are other brands that offer, I would say, like adjacent kinds of business models — where it is a spring mattress, they sometimes have like micro-springs or actually full springs, but they have the same kind of “try it out and send it back if you don't want it” models. I haven't tested any of these so I can't verify them, but I know that Saatva — S-A-A-T-V-A — makes coil mattress they'll ship to you, actually, or deliver to you with that same kind of model. Brooklyn Bedding, I believe, makes some. There's Brentwood Home, I think. So in a spreadsheet in my mind somewhere there's a bunch of them.

KS: Brooklyn Bedding? That's very hip.

Yeah, they actually do make them in Brooklyn there.

LG: Why would you buy a bed from Brooklyn Bedding?

KS: I wouldn't. It's like the artisanal chocolate from Brooklyn. I just ... I have a ban against it.

LG: You watch your mattress being made.

KS: Yeah, exactly. You watch it made and then you discuss it over homemade kombucha and artisanal chocolate.

And only bearded people have touched this bed.

KS: I went to Brooklyn and there was a hot sauce place …

LG: [laughing] And only bearded people …

KS: Yes, there's a hot sauce place that literally they were talking about hot sauce like it was something like it was fine wine. They went on and on, all these hipsters, and of course Nelly was participating and I was sitting in the corner going, "Get me the hell out of here." Hot sauce. Yeah. Whatever.

LG: Did you tell them you've got hot sauce in your bag?

KS: No, no. I do not.

LG: Like the queen.

KS: Oh, that's true.

LG: And the last question is about the dog bed that we referenced earlier. Dylan Stalley, @dstaley. Dylan, thanks so much for sending in your question.

KS: About the Casper dog bed.

LG: About the Casper dog bed.

KS: And lack of cat bed.

LG: Well, I said there should be a cat bed. Kara shakes her head.

KS: Any more jokes? Any more jokes you need to make? Got them out of your system?

LG: No, I've got to sleep on it. [laughter]

KS: All right, Kevin, we’ve got to stop her. Thanks so much more joining us. This has been another great episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask.

LG: I can't stop laughing at myself. I'm laughing at my own joke.

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