April 4, 2014 - Marshall Coyle

Top 2014 Consumer Reports mattress ratings comments.

2014 Consumer Reports Ratings:
Serta, Charles P. Rogers, & Simmons
Earn Top Grades In Lab Tests.

The top-rated mattress retailer  again is a factory-direct franchise operator, Original Mattress Factory with most stores in Ohio  and  at the bottom of the list and the least best for two years in a row is Sleepys, an East Coast large specialty retailer who apparently has been unable to shake off  an unenviable earned reputation.  These opinions are from many thousand CR subscribers who share their good and bad experiences with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports,  the nations’s premier product rating organization  published its annual mattress report in their March issue.  Consumer Reports does not accept advertising or any anything  else that might compromise their judgment and reputation. Their sole source of support is annual dues and donations from members.   I consider their reviews to be a highly reliable source for any mattress shopper.

Consumer Reports laboratory physically tests mattresses using purpose built devices. Some evaluate wear and others to accurately describe the amount and quality of support and air circulation.  This methodology aside from being completely unique is capable of predicting comfort for back and side sleepers as well as issues of heating and cooling. Their professionalism removes much of the surprise when buying a new mattress.

Other recommended innerspring mattresses in addition to the Charles P. Rogers St.Regis include several from Beautyrest, Sealy, and Stearns & Foster.  Recommendations  for Memory Foam included   Novaform , a Costco exclusive and the heavily advertised Bob-O-Pedic  featured at Bob’s Discount Furniture as well as the Simplicity from Tempur-Pedic.    CR’s Best Buy formula (nothing to do with  Best Buy stores) awards the $800  memory foam Novaform at Costco.

The ratings of walk-in stores are based on over 6,000 reported shopping experiences commencing in 2011 and ending June 2013  CR takes pains to point out that their praises or condemnations are based solely on reviews from their members and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the general public.  Costco has come in second twice in a row as a good place to shop owing partially to their clear and workable customer service policies and competitive prices.  Possibly the non-existence of sales people is , unfortunately, another reason.

The top three recommended innerspring mattresses are the Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause, the Beautyrest Recharge Palisades Court Luxury Firm Pillow-top,  and the Charles P. Rogers St. Regis Pillow-top 

And now, as is my old guy right, I now go off message and ramble a bit.

This Old Bed Guy was pleased to notice that the sleep set that we have happily used for the last eight years,  the Charles P. Rogers St. Regis was recognized for outstanding quality, durability, and as “the coolest”.  It is nice to now that by taking our own advice a decade ago we foreshadowed an eventual Consumer Report test confirming my choice.

Equally interesting is that the St. Regis which has been now tested by Consumer Reports for the first time has been in production since before I was born 83 years ago. It has been improved continuously and was produced every year except during WW2 when the military used all the steel available.   The Beautyrest that shares this year’s top is based also originated more than eighty years ago and made in Elizabeth, a few miles down the road  from the new Charles P. Rogers bleeding-edge factory in East Rutherford, NJ. The New York area once had hundreds of  mattress factories.  I don’t think that five or six survive.   I slept on one when I was very young and always wondered why I couldn’t feel the metal buttons.   The Charles P. Rogers of those days was also tufted as no one had yet invented quilt top mattresses.

We  have been praising  old time family owned  NYC area based mattress companies such as Shifman and Charles P. Rogers for decades and the last few years on the blog.  Another local survivor is the Beckley company in the Bronx that literally makes nineteenth century mattresses for the design trade.  They have no technology newer than the Spanish American war and use mainly animal products. Their coils are tied to one another with twine.  I am mentioning but not praising as their mattresses are unnecessarily costly and, in my opinion, not very comfortable.  However, if one owns an odd size antique, Beckley can fill it.    Shifman has also been making one of the worlds best, mostly by hand, and mostly unchanged except visually and thickness since 1950 when “Mrs Coyle” and I started our now 63  year marriage sleeping on a gift Shifman Sanotuft. Beautiful grey striped 8oz. cotton fabric.  By hand is a euphemism because Shifman has plenty of machinery including their own cotton felt processing, but the final finishing must be done by hand. It was hard as a hunk of New York Central Park rock but those were the days when Sealy grew to leadership  by promoting, “No Morning Backache From Sleeping On A Too Soft Mattress”.  To their credit, Shifman does make use of latex foam where appropriate including a two sided all latex mattress. Nothing at all wrong except that many of their mattresses cost as much a nice small car.    I sometimes feel nostalgia for the good but hard old days, nevertheless, current mattresses are capable of giving you a much more comfortable and healthful night’s sleep.

To their credit, even if they are not New Yorkers,  Marshall Mattress in Toronto and McCroskey in San Francisco are far better in every respect than the major brands, but tend to be almost as unaffordable as  most Shifman.   Shifman, out of character, makes a tiny line of machine tufted reversible mattresses at very competitive prices. Apparently not for Bloomingdales, but these rock hard mattresses show up at furniture store sales.

We also opened our first store about that time and  for decades were in the habit of constantly taking the newest mattress design breakthroughs home for a long test.  We sold every important name brand, and slept on all for weeks or months at a time, but nothing received permanent status in decades except this one, the Charles P. Rogers that we bought at full retail after retiring.  Shifman, in the era of hard mattresses was unquestionably as good as one could get in a retail store and comparatively was not as strikingly expensive as the line  on Bloomingdales sales floor.   For decades Stearns and Foster occupied a reputation notch above the best Beautyrest or PosturePedic but the king size super pillow top with foamed in place edge was the worst I ever took home.  In less than six months it was history.  Soon after that, Sealy bought S&F, mainly for the name, closed the S&F factories and today makes both brands on the same line with the same labor.  Last year as their fortunes sagged, TempurPedic bought them on the cheap and is in the process of integrating the three brands.  I have seen a lot of newish PosturePedics with knock-off pocketed coils trying to emulate the Beautyrest, and what appears to be a large proliferation of synthetic foam in both Sealy and S&F.  This is progress?

We got the Charles P. Rogers mattress when we moved back to the city after a period of country living following my retirement.    No longer in the business, not wanting to ask for a favor from old suppliers , we went to Charles P. Rogers who then, as now, only sold direct to the public, and for the quality just about wholesale cost for a similar Sealy or Serta.  No favors needed.  At that time the top of their line was the St.Regis which earned the name in  the 1920′s when Rogers designed it for what was then the best hotel in NYC, the St.Regis.   They had upgraded the cover occasionally , but it still had hand assembled pocketed coils and the best possible filling materials of the era regardless of cost.

Now, almost nine years since I spent maybe $5-600 in 2004 dollars. The perception of comfort was immediate on night one.  The mystery would be durability as I had no personal experience selling the product, just some Beautyrests with fairly similar specifications.   Time has passed my St. Regis by.  It is amazingly like new, but unfortunately “Mr. and Mrs. Coyle” are not. We have not been able to stave off the ravages of time. Every ache and pain known to modern medicine inhabits one of us some of the time or both all the time. The medical profession has done miracles and at this rate we can just go on and on, one or new two meds at a time, an occasional joint replacement and we are up and mobile, but we really needed a softer mattress.

I shopped all three big brand mattresses praised most highly in the Consumer Reports. NYC stores have everything except legitimate bargains. They all felt good.  The big brands were twice as thick as good mattresses used to or need to be.  I visited the Charles P. Rogers showroom on 17th street.  “My” St. Regis is still being sold  but costs twice as much as when when we got ours.  In fairness, the current top rated model has been updated technologically with more and better coils and a lot more padding. And it no longer needs turning.  It still weighs in queen size, 120 pounds owing to the added quantities inside.  For the record, competing highly rated mattresses from major makers in this Consumer Report weigh more than 25 pounds less but don’t cut the price. Charging for air.  The extra filling in the St.Regis is one reason that it defy’s time.   A pressing need for economy in raw materials   is the major reason that mattresses from the big S companies tend to need replacing  so much more rapidly than a Marshall Mattress in Canada, Charles P. Rogers or a Shifman , or for you Left Coast people, McCroskey Mattress in San Francisco.  “Marshall Coyle” recommends all  four as “good old quality” with modern materials and techniques. Comfort varies, but so do people’s needs. Rogers is sold direct only through their two showrooms and the internet.  The others have limited retail regional distribution.

Displayed next to the St. Regis on the Charles P. Rogers  mattress floor was their new three-number line, the PowerCore Estate.  If it’s only difference was that it had more coils than just about any other mattress,  it wouldn’t be such a big deal, however, it is.  We ordered one on the spot.   Rogers, alone in the USA has  recently invented bleeding edge, computer controlled coil making machines needed to make the PowerCore proprietary coil.  This coil is wound and shaped differently and is capable of sensing the weight and contours of the sleeper(s).  This dynamic coil doesn’t just go up and down like every other.  It moves at different speeds and with different resistance depending on whether a shoulder or a butt is weighing it down. Rogers has achieved the mattress Holy Grail with an innerspring that really conforms to the occupants, not the other way around.

“Mrs.Coyle” and I had a hard time deciding which of the three as they all had the same  innerspring unit, however the 100% layered Talalay latex in all three was designed for three discrete “feels”.   The common thread was that all three have the most coils with the most wire packed in the most intelligent way to provide the most comfort and durability and they feel enough different while remaining very comfortable that it makes a decision difficult.  We have one on order and after the ultimate test, sleeping at home, I will reveal which model.

I am not a fan of synthetic foam. Too many variables and too many are negative.  I know that like many other products you can’t paint all with the same brush.  Synthetic foams can be as hard as your hiking shoe sole or ethereally light and fluffy.  Depends on the chemical and the ratio of solids to air. It is like a sponge cake. Tiny bubbles with thick cell walls is hard and great big bubbles with thinnest membranes can start out feeling like sleeping on a cloud.  Unfortunately,  these plush foams start to lose their feel and support in the first five minutes of use and each time they are forced down by the weight of the sleeper crush a little more speeding to an early trip to the landfill.   You can get good synthetic foam and you can get awful synthetic foam.

The PowerCore Estate mattresses are upholstered and padded exclusively with layers of genuine clean and cool foamed latex from the actual sap of the rubber tree.  You can get good or better latex foams, but you can’t get bad latex foam.  The mattress maker can order from a wide range of firmnesses to dial up any feel he or she wishes without worrying that the mattress will lack durability.  The big drawback of genuine Talalay Process latex foam is cost. And it is a big deal for cost-cutting major brands.  Therefor little or no latex, and when they use it, a mattress can quickly hit five figures. They spend so much on advertising and distribution that the mattress filling comes last.  It is far more expensive and cooler than synthetics like memory foam.    It is naturally cool, naturally comfortable, and naturally durable, and unlike chemically derived foam. It does not continually bleed invisible but not odorless gas.

When trying to empty my crowded mail box daily, I have not yet found a situation  that called for me to recommend memory foam.  New versions seem to come out hourly and possibly when the heat, odor, and outgassing problems will dissipate and I can become a fan.  Rogers uses a mixture of memory foam and gel in one or two models below the PowerCore line.  They also use where called for, a latex foam infused with gel. I doubt, but have no direct knowledge  that they would offer anything with noxious characteristics.  Makers of Gel assisted foam tout  the gel’s ability to temper the heat issues present in memory foam while adding a certain undefined bounce.

As usual, I welcome emails to oldbedguy@gmail.com.  You can post a comment, but will get a quicker answer by mail.  Please try to supply me with details such as I request  in many places in this blog.  I can not recommend a mattress if I do not know at least basics about the users.  I can’t tell you about your antique bed without some clear pictures.   I can sometimes supply simple ways to deal with a mattress service problems and your dealer is not living up to your expectations.  The mattress brands that I may have praised above are not necessarily the best ones for you specifically to buy.  They are at least four outstanding companies that make honest mattresses.   I can often tell you how to make some simple changes to make your present mattress more comfortable.   I can not provide a solution to some memory foam being hot and saggy.

“Marshall”

 

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Comments

  • Lauren says:

    Hi, Marshall.

    As you know I bought the Charles P. Rogers PowerCore Estate 7000 after our correspondence a while back. And I love it! It’s neither too soft nor too hard but “just right” (as I believe a certain porridge was). I also got the foundation and frame plus two of their sheet sets.

    It took about three weeks to arrive in California from New Jersey and I was so happy when it came. The packaging was incredible. The personal helpers I hired put it all together quickly and easily, and took the old bed to the dump.

    I would say I have been sleeping on it for about two months. I will admit that for the first ten days or two weeks I did not sleep well, not because of the bed but because, having downsized from a California King to a queen I was afraid of falling off the bed , catching the nightstand on my way down, breaking the lamp and phone, and possible breaking an arm, twisting a leg, and/or cracking my head open. However, as I grew more comfortable with the smaller size I really did begin to sleep better.

    One thing I hadn’t considered is that this bed is high even though the mattress if only 14.5 inches high. At 5’2″, I need to do a small catapult up into the bed, which amuses me. Had I know this, though, I probably would have ordered the shorter foundation.

    I also got their sheets and you are right, they feel great and wear like iron. I do wish they were made to fit taller mattresses but it’s a small complaint. At any rate, I am so glad I used Consumer Reports and YOU to educate myself and buy a superb mattress. I have recommended your blog to anyone who brings up even the idea of buying a new bed. You provide a tremendous service, and I am so very appreciative. Thank you a hundredfold!

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Lauren,

      I am glad that my advice proved helpful. More than that you took advantage of some of the credible advice offered on the web. Because buying a mattress is far from a frequent occurrence for most people and unbiased information is almost painfully difficult to find, you are fortunate to have Consumers Reports and The Old Bed Guy in agreement about most mattresses. I know that they are unbiased corporately although their spokesperson on YouTube videos seems to include all retailers as enemies to be fought. As a retired retailer who did not put phony list prices on mattresses and also refused for half a century to haggle, and knowing that I am and was far from alone, believe that his advice to never pay the ask price is wrong. I think that because he lives and works in the NYC area and our largest sleep shop chain, Sleepy’s, is listed by Consumer Reports as the least best mattress retailer in their latest survey, he paints the rest with the same brush. “Money talks, nobody walks” is a feature of shopping in many chain sleep shops including, but not limited to their listed worst. Department stores universally have a triple (or quadruple) tier pricing where they triple or quadruple their costs and then start cutting sale by sale until they are only making 100% on cost. I have heard but never verified stories of how you can sometimes get the manager in a commission department like tailored clothing or mattresses to make a deal when your intended purchase is large enough or they are having a slow day. This is in-person. Nothing at all for internet buyers.

      However, corresponding with nice people like you makes my retirement so much pleasanter. I may sometimes be outspoken when criticizing the features or qualities of a mattress that the writer is considering buying, but I consider it my duty to educate honestly. The internet is over well supplied with advice blogs about mattresses that exist to tout a product or a manufacturer. They don’t need another paid-for voice. I am sure that Consumer Reports and the Old Bed Guy aren’t the only two objective writers and it concerns me that they hide so well.

      Back to your too-tall bed. There are many ways to bring down the height, obviously dependent of the bed construction. If you can describe or send me a snapshot of one corner clearly showing the leg that supports whatever kind of frame, will see what I can find in my armory.

      Marshall

  • Finn Pollard says:

    Good information about mattress. I agree with you.

    • Marshall Coyle says:

      Mr.Pollard,

      I just studied your website. You have an enormous range and many items that would be very competitive on this side of the Pacific. Thanks for your thoughts. Marshall

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