Back in 2008, Mrs. Katharsys and I bought a high end mattress.  With my back pain, it seemed worth the $1847 for the queen-size Nature’s Rest “Conservation” foam mattress.  (No box spring because of the platform bed frame.) We also got a “Protect A Bed” mattress cover that supposedly would keep the mattress like new regardless of how much we sweat while sleeping.

We realized we had a problem very soon, however.  “Body impressions” were forming.  Looking at the instructions, it said that that was normal.  But we also realized that we had less springy-ness in those body impressions.  In September of 2009, we called the store and they had a manufacturer’s rep come out and measure the impressions.  Kevin was really nice but the news wasn’t good for us.  The way the warranty measuring goes is from top of the bed to the bottom, not side to side.  And top to bottom, our mattress’s impressions were only 1/4″ down when the threshold for determining a problem is 1-1/4″.  There is also no measurement for resiliency.  So in a business where they tell you not to worry about body impressions, they only test for body impressions.  And in a business that is all about the firmness and resiliency of a mattress, that’s not something they test for.  Well, I figured, it’s only been a year.  The warranty is for 20 years.  I’m sure I’ll hit the threshold soon, I thought.

A couple of years ago, Mrs. Katharsys and I were tired of being hot at night.  Central AC hadn’t arrived yet.  And we ended up not putting the “Protect A Bed” cover on one time.  Voila – not hot at night.  So it appears that the “Protect A Bed” also had the net effect of trapping heat in the mattress.  And we wondered – could the excess heat that was trapped have been a contributor to the failing resiliency?  Since ditching the “Protect A Bed” permanently, the resiliency failure rate has slowed.  But it still continues.

One night, after not being able to sleep well due to the bad resiliency, trying to find a place that felt right for my back, I resorted to stuffing in some bathroom towels between the mattress and the platform.  I folded them neatly made sure there were no lumps.  I think that helped the situation somewhat.

Now, after a recent rotation, with the towels removed, I wanted to try sleeping on the mattress without the towels and to see how bad things are now.  Immediately, it was a worse night sleep – I couldn’t get comfortable and woke up with back pain (more than usual).  Okay, back to the towels.  Next night, definitely better.  But yep, it’s time.  Time to get the warranty replacement under way.  I began making plans for how I would ensure that the inspector would leave here convinced I was right about a problem and seeing if I could make sure the replacement mattress wouldn’t have the same issue.

So I called the store where we bought it expecting to schedule another inspection.  The nice person at the store, Linda, ran through the standard questions to make sure we had been rotating, to make sure the “foundation” was solid, etc..  At the point at which I expected her to say she would send somebody out because it seemed we had a legit case, however, she said she had bad news.  Nature’s Rest had declared bankruptcy and as a consequence, no warranties could be honored.  So regardless of what inspection results might yield, there was no possibility of replacement.  But..  But…  I have a 20 year warranty.  In a very nice way, Linda effectively told me that I didn’t any more.  I did have one at one time, but the warranty was with a company that doesn’t exist any more.  The store can’t honor the warranty because they can’t recoup their losses and although it wasn’t said, you have to figure that if the store is worried about honoring a manufacturer’s warranty, it’s probably because the quantity of claims would be non-trivial.   In other words, I’m definitely not alone.

Fortunately, the store already has a plan in place for exactly this issue: they have “lift pads” that would take the place of the bath towels – now not only will the shims be more like the original mattress, but our bathroom will once again have the full complement of towels.  And yet, I know that the lift pads are unlikely to make the mattress just like new and of course it is only a matter of a few years, I’m assuming, until the lift pads are shot or until the mattress is too bad to continue using.  For now, I’m hopeful that it will at least buy us some time.

While I am pleased the store has a plan, I feel like I had reported our mattress as having been defective only a year after we got it.  And that at the time, it should have been acknowledged that so much loss in resiliency in only a year is an obvious indication that there’s a problem.  But since the mattress warranty measurement does not include any check on resiliency, every mattress warranty therefore is a complete waste.  Every mattress should be considered to have no warranty if the thing you are buying it for is not checked for in the warranty test.

But anyone who knows me knows that I’m going to research the hell out of the Nature’s Rest story.  And because I did, I wanted to share what I learned.  First, Nature’s Rest wasn’t a manufacturer as I thought it was – it was a brand of Spring Air.  Spring Air is a mattress company that had been around for ages.  After a merger with Consolidated Bedding and an investment from American Capital in 2007, the Spring Air company was under pressure to expand.  They did so by adding a brand like Nature’s Rest.  However the poor economic climate had caught up to them by 2009 and American Capital abruptly stopped sending money forcing all of Spring Air to close.  Workers were laid off without severance.  Bankruptcy proceedings began.

Meanwhile, Edward Bates, a former owner of a Spring Air factory who had sold his factory to Spring Air as part of (or just prior to) the big merger in 2007 was offering to buy out the whole Spring Air company.  Presumably he knew there was trouble and was negotiating for a bargain price.  Terms were not reached and two days after Spring Air CEO left, the company closed.  Bates then was able to purchase intellectual property and brands from the now defunct Spring Air and transfer them to his new company named Spring Air International.

That’s right.  Spring Air is dead.  Long live Spring Air (International).  Or in case it isn’t clear yet, it would appear as though Bates wanted to run Spring Air but realized that doing so would mean taking on all of the debt and responsibility of the existing company which would doom him to failure too.  By waiting until the company collapsed, he could buy the good stuff from the defunct Spring Air at a discount and not be saddled with the bad stuff.  Great deal for Bates (and his Rolls Royce).  Lousy deal for just about everyone else.

Even though the new company apparently can use same name, the slogan “Trusted by millions since 1926”, and the same logo as the original company on their web site, they don’t have to acknowledge that they are not the same legal entity who abandoned thousands of warranty claims.  It would seem to me that somebody ought to be able to make a legal case that the name, logo, and history goes with the warranty claims – if you want one, you get the other.  Any lawyers reading this?

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