Defective Mattress? Here’s What to Do

If you’ve been sleeping on a defective mattress, you’re probably dealing with a whole host of problems right now.

A bad mattress can result in everything from back pain to trouble sleeping, so if your mattress is looking a little worse for wear, it’s definitely time to start planning on getting a new one.

So, what do you do with a defective mattress, anyway?

Surely the mattress company will handle that… right?

You need to know your rights in this situation before you start taking action with your mattress supplier.

Knowing what you’re doing now could save you a whole lot of time and money in the long run.

Is Your Mattress Actually Defective?

There are a lot of reasons why you might consider a mattress to be defective, but unfortunately, only some of these are going to be covered under your mattress’s warranty.

Generally, warranties are only there to protect you from manufacturing defects in your mattress.

Most mattress companies have a pretty narrow definition of what they consider to be a defect under warranty, but there are a few obvious things they’ll cover no matter what.

Some common examples include:

  • Splitting at the seams
  • Structural failure (coils breaking, bending, popping out, etc.)
  • Indentations in the mattress surface below a certain level
  • Irregular bunching (in memory foam mattresses)

Note that most mattress warranties do not cover normal wear and tear – and of course, they have a pretty broad definition of what this means.

What Mattress Warranties Actually Mean

Man signing a paperMost mattresses come with 5-, 10-, or 20-year warranties, but these warranties are commonly misunderstood.

These do not mean that your mattress is expected to last until the end of your warranty.

They also don’t mean that you’ll be able to replace your mattress for any reason if you stop being satisfied with it at any point during this period.

In fact, you’ll typically want to replace your mattress every five to seven years (which you can read more about in our article here).

Written mattress warranties only cover manufacturing flaws that come up during their coverage – and they’re just a company promise, not a legally enforceable contract.

Implied Mattress Warranties

The only warranties you’re actually guaranteed to have legally enforced are implied warranties.

These are the promises a mattress company makes when you buy their product, or things you could reasonably expect upon purchase.

Note that even implied warranties can be voided if a company expressly disclaims them, or identifies their product as “as is” or “with all faults.”

Mattress Trial Periods

Be sure you don’t mix up your mattress’s warranty with your mattress’s trial period.

 These are two very different things.

Trial periods are designed to let you figure out whether or not you actually want this product.

Online mattress companies in particular usually have pretty generous trial period policies – you can typically arrange to have your mattress taken away if you find anything wrong with it within this span of time, and it often won’t cost you a penny.

What’s NOT Covered with a Mattress Warranty

But back to your mattress’s written warranty.

No matter what your warranty looks like, there are certain things no mattress company will cover.

 For instance, warranties usually aren’t about whether or not you actually like the mattress.

That’s something you need to figure out during the trial period (which you can read more about in our article here).

In general, companies won’t cover anything they can’t directly observe – so things like excessive softness or failing support are off the table.

Things That Void a Mattress Warranty

Man in suit tears up a paperThere are also a number of things that will automatically void a warranty, no matter how terrible a product you’re dealing with.

If you’ve already done any of these things, it’s almost impossible to get any help from the company.

Removing the Law Tag

All mattresses come with something called a “law tag” that reads, “Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.”

Now, this tag is mostly aimed at manufacturers – you’re not going to have the police busting down your door if for some reason you’ve removed this tag somewhere along the way.

For your purposes, though, a law tag is your proof of purchase.

So if your mattress doesn’t have its tag attached, you’ve likely already voided your warranty.

Buying a Mattress from a Third Party

Mattress warranties only extend to the person who bought the mattress, and nobody else.

So if you got your mattress from a third party (like Goodwill or a friend, not a site like us), you’re not going to be able to get any money back.

Getting Stains on the Mattress

If you’ve spilled any kind of liquid on your mattress that resulted in an irremovable stain, you’re out of luck.

Mattress companies consider spills of any kind to make a mattress unsanitary.

They won’t take it to their storage facilities, so they can’t give you your money back.

They also consider spilling liquids on a mattress to be compromising the structural integrity of a mattress – even if your issue with the mattress has nothing to do with the stain.

This is why it’s so important to invest in a proper mattress case, which will protect your investment from these kinds of problems.

Using a Bad Box Spring

If you’ve been using a faulty box spring or bedframe for your mattress, or if your mattress required a box spring and you haven’t been using one, your warranty is kaput.

Mattress companies assume you’ve been taking proper care of your mattress, and if they can find a reason to say you haven’t been, they will jump on that in a heartbeat.

You can read all about what your company expects of you in the warranty.

How Mattress Companies Define “Sagging”

If you want to return a mattress because of an unreasonable amount of sagging, there are a couple things you should know.

First of all, realize that mattress companies will often only measure the indentation in a mattress’s surface when there’s no weight applied.

So in the eyes of your warranty, it doesn’t matter what your mattress actually feels like when you actually lie down on it.

The only thing that matters is whether or not the mattress naturally sags below a certain point.

You can always find this number somewhere in your warranty, but it’s usually around 1.5 inches. 

Note that, if your mattress is sagging below this point before you even lie down, it’s already going to be extremely uncomfortable to sleep on.

In fact, you’re probably going to have been suffering from symptoms of a bad mattress for a long, long time before you actually qualify for help from your company.

It’s stupid, we know.

What Will Happen if You Get the Mattress Inspected

Detective looking through magnifying glassIf you’re convinced that your mattress problems fall within your warranty, though, here’s what’s going to happen when you call the company up.

First of all, be prepared to be in this for the long haul – it often takes mattress companies between four and six weeks to get this all sorted out.

Part of the reason for this is that they’ll have to go out and get a third-party inspector to have a look at your purchase and determine whether or not you qualify for a refund.

This inspector will be unbiased, but all they can do is follow your company’s guidelines – no matter how unfair they might seem.

If your problem involves sagging, for instance, they’ll just take a string and stretch it out across the width of your mattress.

When the string is taut, they’ll then take a ruler and measure how deep an indentation you’re looking at.

If you want to save yourself some trouble, just do all this before you try calling up an inspector.

You might be able to save yourself a lot of trouble.

What Pays For All This?

You’ll often be required to pay for your inspection out of pocket for the time being.

If your mattress is found defective, you’ll get this money back.

Otherwise… sorry.

Even if you do qualify for a replacement, you still might be required to pay shipping fees to get a new mattress if you bought yours online.

This varies from company to company, though, so be sure to bone up on your policy knowledge in advance.

How Prorating Works

One thing you’ll want to check out is your mattress company’s prorating policy.

You want as much non-prorated coverage as possible, here.

This means that the company will replace your mattress free and clear, and you won’t have to pay a penny.

Most mattresses have a combination of prorated and non-prorated coverage in their warranty, though.

After a certain point, prorating is probably going to kick in.

For each year your mattress is prorated, you’re going to have to pay a certain percentage of the mattress’s initial cost to replace it.

So, the older your mattress is, the more it’s going to cost you.

Conclusion About What to Do with a Defective Mattress

We know it’s complicated, but hopefully by this point you have a pretty good idea as to whether or not you should go to the trouble of contacting your mattress company about your defective mattress.

Know your rights, and don’t go around wasting your time and money.

Be smart.

Know what you’re doing around that mattress!

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A defective product is widely interpreted as an item purchased that is not capable of being used for it’s intended purpose. By that I mean, a defective mattress is not the same as one that fails under warranty. I came here because I bought a mattress and when it arrived, I was not even there to inspect it and my mother let them in and when I got home I saw it was bent and 3 inches too short. This does not constitute defective by any of the things you describe in your article, which i still maintain are failures after use and not one that shows up on day one as a useless product. Not trying to be overly critical but after today, I am so uptight because I bought a mattress that arrived with issues that more than constitute the term “defective” and the store is trying to tell me I have no right to return it for a refund. Not that I dont doubt they think their store policy may say mattresses are non-returnable but I am not trying to return a working product, but one that isn’t functional due to it being 3 inches short. It will never fit in the bed-frame properly and causes a safety hazard. I am trying to find some legislation that gives me rights to demand a refund so these people cannot force me to exchange it. The comfort guaranty gives me the right to a 1 time exchange for any brand mattress of my choice but a defective mattress that cannot even fit into the base is not only impossible to use as intended, but it can be a safety issue if it slips off the base while I am sleeping on it. As far as the research I have found thus far, Federal law defines something stating a seller must honor a return for a refund for a defective product, which was defined as something that cannot be used for it’s intended purpose. My pillows fall between the wall at night as the bed slides down, and in some positions the adjustable bed does not seem to be keeping the mattress secure since it isn’t long enough to reach the hooks that are designed to hold it in place. I find that any store that forces someone like me to be locked into a sale on a defective mattress like this should be brought up on charges for extortion

Anyway, my being upset today has alot to do with the tone of my message. I’m sorry if I seem overly frustrated, but I hope to get through this without being locked to a sale from a company that already has shown what type of business practices they are known for. It’s Boscovs. And I cannot believe they would not rather keep a customer happy. I am not just someone with buyer’s remorse. That might be the type of person they should lock into th deal. But I am still waiting for a final decision for my appeal just so I can move forward and get a mattress i can trust from a seller I can trust and deal with my health issues. Thing is, I would never have wanted to return this mattress if it wasn’t defective. I would have appreciated it and more. It’s not as bad as the experience with Boscovs. But when store policies are not specific in stating their policies also apply to defects, it does not clearly say they are not willing to accept the return of defective mattresses. And it’s obvious that the mattress policy for Boscov’s is referring to their comfort guarantee which this has nothing to do with. I’m looking for any more ammunition to support my claim. I was hoping this article had some. Its really similar to the store as it merely states what to do with “warranty” related issue where the store policy is merely stating what the policy states when it comes to their “comfort guarantee”. Any helpful information is very much appreciated. Sorry for blurting it all out here. But if you’re reading, … thanks

Stacey Morgan – STAFF

Hi Agudeza,

sorry for your situation. As Boscov’s is a serious firm (or so I heard), I’d give it another try, sending them pictures etc. If that doesn’t work, I’d ask for a replacement, so you get at least something you can use. If that won’t work either, as a last resort I’d follow the legal route, but it’s very often lengthy, very expensive and uncertain.


It’s true, Boscov’s is a rather large business. And they were more than happy to replace the defective mattress. I even agreed to them swapping it out and scheduled an appointment for the exchange. It took close to 2 weeks by the time they could get out to me and when they arrived, they brought the wrong mattress. And that was what triggered me to saying that I want a refund instead of an exchange.
So, I was already close to a month into the ordeal, and after 2 consecutive fails, I wanted to get a mattress right then and there. And the local mattress firm had a couple in stock and were able to deliver the same day or the very next day at the latest. To be honest, I liked the Sealy from Boscovs a little better but not enough to take another chance and be disappointed. After all I was dealing with physical limitations that an adjustable base and good mattress were going to help me with. In the end, it was not Boscov’s as a company that was the problem. It was their customer service representative who kept telling me I was not able to just return for refund because I was under the agreement signed in the store. But, even if it would be difficult to pursue this legally, I did my homework and the law for NJ came straight from the attorney general’s office division of consumer affairs. No vendor is allowed to even state that a mattress cannot be returned for a refund or use words like non-refundable because they go against the statute written to protect consumers. Turns out it would have had to b a demo mattress or one listed as used and then it could be sold “as is” but even then, it must match the description listed in the store. And the store said it was a QUEEN mattress which by definition means reasonably sized according to the standard of a “Queen Size Mattress” which is 60 x 80 inches. This one was 60 x 77 inches. Plus, the fact that the seller did not deliver a fully functional product by the date when I first signed the agreement means the contract is null and void and it is up to the consumer whether to choose a refund, or wait for a future scheduled delivery to replace the item. Oh, I was not looking to go to a lawyer but I sure wasn’t going to forget I have rights as a consumer either.

Anyway, In the end, I should have called the store where I bought this mattress and 1 other a week earlier. They told me to contact customer service to deal with the issue initially but I should have called them again to tell them what customer service was putting me though. After a 2 minutes conversation with someone in the mattress department, and waiting 3 minutes for them to call me back, I was told a refund was being issued as we spoke and we scheduled for the mattress to be picked up later that week. It was the customer service representative who was being stubborn and honestly, uninformed about consumer rights. It seems Consumers are always under the impression a store’s policy is law. And it’s not. I applaud Boscov’s for the prompt remedy once I called the store. But, I also think about how this is also happening within a day of a complaint I filed with the BBB AND the Division of Consumer Affairs, who actually explained what my rights were specifically for a new mattress that was defective. In fact it’s pretty simple. If a mattress arrives defective, later than the time and date agreed on, or does not match the original description, along with a few other specific scenarios, a consumer has the right to demand a prompt refund no questions asked. I read the specific law from the bulletin provided by the Attorney General’s Office to the guy from Boscov’s when I called. I also mentioned the complaints. It could be what prompted them to issue the refund so quickly. Not their good nature. But I did give them the benefit of the doubt because they did seem genuinely concerned when they saw how unhappy I was and the level of inconvenience I was dealing with. Either way, that customer service representative was not fair and a bit arrogant. It is not fair a consumer should be stripped of their rights and they either don’t know the law, or, they played me in hopes I didn’t either. THAT tells me enough to watch my step no matter where I shop in the future. The real world doesn’t have to be full deceit, greed and corporate bulley’s exploiting the weaknesses of consumers But Unfortunately, a large part of it is.

I appreciate the reply, and sorry for the lengthy message. It was just such an ordeal from where I stand. Thankfully it’s over. In the end, I am happy. I am not at odds with anyone I dealt with even if it was unpleasant. I am just happy that I learned a valuable lesson and ended up getting my bed finished. Sleeping sound too

Stacey Morgan – STAFF

Well, after all, the important thing is that you found a good solution. Let’s just hope nobody has to go through this ordeal again!