The gut sinking dread of mattress shopping

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

There are some things in life I dread. Truly dread. There are terrors like colonoscopies and root canals, not to mention arguing over an insurance claim with a customer service rep in another country. Or learning I have a three-hour wait for the next available ticket agent at Delta or the next available representative at the Social Security office, who will probably become available when the Millennial Generation is ready to retire.

I sincerely hate buying a new car or a used car because even though the salesman assures me he’s risking his job to give me the best deal in automotive history, I always leave the showroom with the gnawing feeling in my gut that I just got [pick a word].

Buying a new mattress is just as bad, which leads me to wonder whether buying a used mattress is easier. I’ve often been told that when it comes to cars and mattresses, you should NEVER pay a list price. Then, why do I?

I wasn’t born with the haggler’s gene, and I usually want to get in and get out as fast as I can. The last time I needed a car, I offered to pay my wife and daughter a finder’s fee to buy me something, anything, so I could avoid that ordeal. They refused and said, “It’s gonna be your car, so do it yourself!”

Undeterred, I recently asked them to buy me a new mattress, which I desperately need before I permanently damage my back, but they screamed in unison, “YOU HAVE TO SLEEP ON IT! BUY IT YOURSELF!”

Two years ago I needed a new mattress, but kept delaying the inevitable even though I’d wake up with back aches, shoulder aches and aches in places I never knew existed on the human body. In desperation, we rotated the mattress and then flipped the mattress, hoping there was some support left somewhere. There wasn’t.

I was going to put a piece of plywood under it, but my wife put the kibosh on that idea, along with my plan to buy a mattress on Amazon. I told her about the free shipping, but that didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t care if I couldn’t try it out. I was perfectly willing to buy any mattress labeled, “Amazon’s Choice.”

Actually, I picked one out that had a 4½ star rating and 6424 reviews, and I was about to order it when I read a one-star rating that said, “I bought this mattress strictly based on the reviews. What a stupid idea. This was honestly the worst purchase I ever made. This mattress is the hardest thing I ever slept on. If you think this thing is comfortable, there’s something wrong with you! I’ve lost my faith in humanity!”

Well, the last thing I want to lose is the little faith in humanity I have, so back to Plan A. Time to get off my lazy bottom, go to the mattress store, kick the tires, jump on some mattresses, and pay full price with my coronavirus stimulus check.

There’s nothing more humiliating than lying on a mattress in a showroom in front of the salesperson and other shoppers. Quite honestly, I don’t want to roll around and jump on it in public, attempting to do all those activities best done in the privacy of your bedroom.

Beforehand, I went online to get some mattress-buying tips. They say you’re supposed to negotiate the asking price down by almost 50 percent. Another rule is “Wait until Columbus Day.” Since Columbus Day is under fire, I decided not to wait. I went into the store, got accosted by a saleswoman, jumped on an extra-firm mattress and promptly proclaimed, “I’ll buy it!” I proceeded to pay full price and ran out the store. Two days later, the mattress was at my doorstep. Easy, right?

The bad news is I feel like I’m sleeping on a slab of concrete. The REALLY bad news is they won’t exchange it until I sample every other mattress in the store.

Joe Pisani can be reached at .