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I purchased a Kathy Ireland mattress in Richmond, VA recently, but after looking at the reviews online I canceled my order. The salesperson however told me that the review I read was not the same Twilight Skies and was made by a different manufacturer than they used. He also showed me that the ones online with bad reviews had hourglass coil or continuous coil while his design was individually wrapped coil. How is this possible with all of them carrying the same name?

asked Sep 30 '15
Anonymous968's gravatar image
Anonymous968

Thanks for your question -- this is a great topic for mattress shoppers to understand.

First, to answer your question: yes, what the salesperson told you is indeed possible. The reason this can happen is that many mattress brands are "licensed" to multiple factories across the country (called "licensees"), rather than being owned and manufactured by a single company. This includes the Kathy Ireland mattress brand, which is owned by Therapedic. In most cases, a brand will have anywhere from 5 to 15 licensees, with each licensee being given a specific territory. This system allows the brand to more easily achieve and maintain national scale.

On its own, the licensing model is not necessarily a problem -- many licensed brands have good, consistent products across their licensees. The problem comes when licensees go "rogue" and start doing things like coming up with their own unique specifications for models that are sold under the same name in other regions. This happens more than you might think, and you are 100% right to be indignant about it. At worst, it is deliberately misleading to consumers. At best, it is an archaic practice that has absolutely no place in the modern (internet-enabled) era -- where consumers rightfully expect to be able to find unbiased information about products before they buy them.

In your case, as you found out, there is no way to get the real story on products like these. The salesperson with whom you spoke may be extremely knowledgeable (and honest) about what is really in the product you are buying -- as well as what may or may not be in all the other versions of that product that are out there. But then again, they may not be.

Fundamentally, your choice is whether to buy a product for which you can get adequate unbiased information -- or whether to buy a product for which the only information you can get comes from the salesperson.

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answered Sep 30 '15
Goodbed Help's gravatar image
Goodbed Help ♦♦
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Mattress manufacturers have always used different names for the same products, and have also used the same name for different products. It's nothing new and certainly will not change anytime soon.

The only way for you to be educated about a product is to know the componentry and assembly. Then, and only then, will you be able to make an informed decision about the durability and expected comfort life of a product. You need to ignore "reviews," both pro and con, about products online. In general, these are short term opinions rendered by people unqualified to produce a truly educated analysis of the product.

Instead, you need to acquire knowledge of the foams, spring units and assembly processes of the product you are considering. This information should be provided to you by the retailer you're visiting. And in this case the reputation of the retailer certainly should come into play with the amount of credence you can give to the information you're provided.

To address your specific concern, I've been a Therapedic dealer for 20 years and the Kathy Ireland line my licensee produces is very high quality. They produce models using both the marshall spring units and the stronger continuous coil units. But they are also very vigilant about the quality of the foams they use and they also are strict about their assembly procedures. I can't say that about all of the licensees out there.

But this is the case with all of the brands, whether or not the mattress factories are factory-owned. I've had Sealy mattresses (where they own almost every single factory) with huge variations in quality to the point where I had to switch factories to get a decently made product. The same with Simmons. The quality of the workforce and the dedication of management play a large role in mattress quality and durability.

In the end, find a retailer you trust and then you can begin to acquire the knowledge you truly need in order to make an informed decision.

I hope that's helpful. Good luck!

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answered Oct 07 '15
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Jeff Scheuer ♦
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Thank you for adding your perspective to this, Jeff! We love your answers because they always come from the right place of helping the consumer first and foremost, and of course they pack in lots of valuable information and expertise as well. In this case, I think your answer merits a bit of a deeper discussion in a couple areas, if you are willing.

First, in an ideal world, do you agree that licensees should cease the practice of "using the same name for different products"? (I am referring to specific model names here, not just product line names like "Kathy Ireland.") From the consumer's perspective, even if they are only trying to research what is in the product, as you suggested, they would likely get conflicting information about this online, which is frustrating and confusing. And from the manufacturer's perspective, it would seem that they don't benefit from this practice either, unless they are trying to "piggy-back" off one of their fellow licensees by producing a mattress with the same model name but cheaper specs -- which of course would be a deliberately deceptive practice.

Second, would you advise people to ignore reviews when shopping for other types of products as well? We are certainly in agreement that reviews should not be the sole guiding factor in a purchase decision and that there is no such thing as the best mattress for everyone, however we do believe that reviews have a place and can provide valuable information. Respectfully, it seems that it could be said of virtually every product or service that the average consumer is "unqualified to produce a truly educated analysis of the product" -- that is, after all, what distinguishes a consumer review from an expert review. But what consumer reviews lack in expertise and analysis, they can make up for with impartiality and quantity (there is wisdom in the crowd). Thus, one challenge we are tackling (on the reviews front) is how to get a sufficient number of reviews from a broad cross-section of people, and how to identify patterns in this data that provide meaningful insights.

(Oct 07 '15) Goodbed Help ♦♦ Goodbed Help's gravatar image
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Asked: Sep 30 '15

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