Two customers checking in at the front desk of a Tuft & Needle retail store

How A Terrible Return Experience Sparked A Movement

September 13, 2017

Author: Josie Sivigny

We’ve all done it.

Finding the right item is difficult enough but now you have to return it? Ugh.

The panic sets in as you stand in that long line, desperately searching for that faded piece of receipt paper, trying to remember what credit card you used that day. You’re hoping beyond hope that you’ve owned the item less than 30 days, or 90 days, or however long this particular store’s return policy happens to last. The face behind the register seems nice enough from way back here, but what happens when you get to the front of the line?

It makes sense that companies make their return process difficult. About 8-10% of all items purchased each year are returned. And, for the most part, companies generally do a pretty good job understanding that customers are going to need to return items, might as well not make it any harder than it needs to be.

But have you ever tried returning a mattress?

Losing sleep from a mattress you don’t love is hard enough, but the fine print and red tape of returning it is a waking nightmare.

An overly-difficult and frustrating mattress return attempt was the spark that inspired our founders to disrupt the mattress industry and create a better mattress purchasing, owning, and returning experience. JT purchased what he thought was a high-quality mattress for about $3500 (the pain of shopping for it is a story for another time).

After sleeping on it for a couple weeks, he discovered that it didn’t provide him with the restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep that he was promised. Naturally, he wanted to return it.

The way mattress companies weasel their way out of returns is by sending a “qualified professional” to your house to perform an inspection on your used mattress. They want to make sure the mattress you return can be resold, so this “professional” comes into your house, into your bedroom, with the intention of checking out your mattress. Not exactly a comfortable situation for anyone involved.

Rather than trusting that your mattress isn’t working out, they put you in a highly invasive situation where you have to prove that nothing is actually wrong with the mattress you no longer want because it’s hurting your back, or sleeps hot, or causes mild to extreme discomfort.

After that “qualified professional” came into JT’s home, into his bedroom, and performed an inspection of his mattress, he was told that he would be able to return it…

…for a fee.

The mattress company he purchased from offered to return for 10% of his purchase price. Nothing like being out a couple grand to make him feel like a valued customer.

So in 2012, JT and Daehee started Tuft & Needle.

They sought to disrupt the mattress industry and one of the core values of their company was to offer a fair return policy to each and every single customer. They cared about customer’s purchasing their mattress, but they cared more about providing customers with a great night’s sleep, even if it didn’t come from Tuft & Needle.

They wanted customers to not only have the option to receive a full refund, but without the invasive inspection and endless hoops to jump through first.

100% of customers who purchase a Tuft & Needle mattress directly from us online, at one of our three stores, or through have 100 nights to sleep on their new mattress once it arrives.

We believe customers should have the time they need to determine whether or not their new mattress is the perfect fit and provides them with the great night’s sleep they deserve.

About 95% of customers keep their mattress which means that only about 5% of customers return their Tuft & Needle mattresses.

Of those 5% that are returned, about 93% of them are donated to local charities and non-profit organizations all over the country—when they can’t be donated they are recycled and given new life. It’s central to Tuft & Needle’s values that returned mattresses don’t sit in the bottom of landfills, but rather are given to those in need. When you let us know the mattress isn’t for you, we’ll arrange a pickup and you get every penny back. No tricks, no hoops.

We know that great sleep on a quality mattress is one of the most important parts of the day—even if that mattress comes from someone else. We’ll never stand between you and the rest you need to tackle your day.

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