Shopping for mattress firmies? Let’s talk about your mattress benefits

I would say we’re a little happier with the rewards programme now that we’ve heard about them before. I suppose it depends on the brand you’re shopping with. At my local grocery store and,…

I would say we’re a little happier with the rewards programme now that we’ve heard about them before. I suppose it depends on the brand you’re shopping with. At my local grocery store and, I must admit, the local gym, if you’re a regular customer you’ll always get some cash back. We opted for one of these cash rewards cards a few years ago for one of our young sons to use as a gift, and we don’t feel compelled to cancel them. That said, if you love cash back, I’d advise taking a break, and waiting a year or so to see if they do better. We’ve heard and shared that kind of idea from our friends who’ve swapped to a debit or credit card because they’re so darn easy to use.

I also have to say that I think the folks at Lands’ End should be commended for the benefits offered by their card to their customers. Having a different benefit than the one at Lands’ End or Express is easy to do. More than enough money in my checking account to make it worthwhile. But it may not be so alluring if you spend almost your entire day shopping for clothes at the department store. If you put anything up to the mattress fire, you can’t have just one card. You may want to have more than one card because of how much of your life you’ll spend on the mattress, not just how much money you have to spare. Let’s say you are the partner who plans to go away on a year-long cruise, and on top of all that, you’ll have to stick your head inside your new bed every two hours for an hour and a half at a time. It’s not hard to imagine that you’ll want to have the pleasure of using your new mattress before you leave for your cruise.

There are a few companies I’ve been able to use that I’ve heard about on my mother’s side of the family, and another named Gold Series that has appeared in the free magazine in the local news. You can usually find them online or in discount stores, but the website for Targets’s rewards program is a little soft-pedaling. I’ve taken the time to call one company directly (asking to be put through to an executive) and I’m grateful I did. If I have an opinion about the program, here’s what I’ve heard:

“This system makes it almost impossible to start shopping for mattresses and never go back to see whether it’s actually worthwhile.”

“It’s hard to get help … people on the phone seem very nervous at the beginning.”

“It’s very secretive.”

“There’s no way to compare money back offers.”

“The employees at Best Buy do no show my way from these stores!”

“You can’t go into Macy’s or other places for advice.”

Then there is Target’s mattress cash incentive that can be put up to $500 a year. The company has a great website that breaks down how to use the system to the customer’s liking. It would be helpful to have clear salespeople who could explain the program in more detail. Customers are tempted to jump at the cash anyway because it’s irresistible.

To see more of John’s weekly columns in The New York Times Magazine go to nytimes.com/magazine.

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