How My iPhone Paid for Itself

by Shawanda Greene

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In May 2009, I was in the market for a mattress. I’d slept on an air mattress for about a month before it began to deflate for no apparent reason. Once the air mattress gave up on me, I decided there was no point in buying another. It was time to look for a more long-term solution.

Selecting the right mattress is a very important decision. Supposedly, we spend a third of our lives in bed. I probably spend about a quarter of my life in bed, but nevertheless, a comfortable mattress is essential. If you’ve been reading my blog, then you should already know I had to do my research and find a good deal. Temporary aches and pains from sleeping on hardwood floors are a small price to pay for savings. It wasn’t so bad. I’d keep the air pump next to the mattress so that I could easily inflate it when my aching bones woke me up in the middle of the night.

Once I actually had a need for Consumer Reports, I reinstated my online subscription. At the time, I didn’t know Consumer Reports doesn’t rate mattresses. However, all was not lost. After reading the message boards on their website, I found out that the price matching policy offered by many mattress retailers is practically impossible to enforce. Primarily because mattress names vary among retailers making it difficult to comparison shop.

Slight variations in different retailers’ similar mattresses are large enough to render a price matching policy unenforceable. For instance, a mattress manufacturer like Serta may sell nearly identical mattresses to Macy’s and Sears. According to one Consumer Reports subscriber, even if everything else about the two mattresses are the same, a small difference in coil count could permit either retailer to deny you a price matching discount on the basis that the lower priced mattress isn’t comparable.

Armed with this information, I set out to visit Sleepy’s. They have a price matching policy of course. Once I thought I found the mattress that was right for me, I proceeded to ask the salesman detailed questions about the mattress. He was very knowledgeable.

After the salesman answered my questions, I laid on the bed again and researched the mattress on my iPhone. That’s when I realized US-Mattress.com had what seemed to be the same mattress for $400 less than what Sleepy’s was asking. Before presenting the salesman with my finding, I asked him yet another question: “What’s the coil count?” He replied, “800.” My next question: “Can you tell me the difference between this mattress and the one at US-Mattress.com?”

The salesman had previously informed me that he didn’t have internet access in the store. That meant it was up to me to provide him with proof that his company’s price was beaten by a competitor. After admitting Sleepy’s was on the hook for providing me a $400 discount, I convinced the salesman to throw in the bed frame and mattress pad for no additional cost. He had to do something to convince me to seal the deal with him instead of taking my business elsewhere. Even after all that, I told him I’d get back with him if I didn’t find a better deal. I didn’t.

Would I have been able to save $400 on a mattress without an iPhone? Who knows? But, I definitely believe using the technology available to me let the salesman know he was working with a knowledgeable consumer who’s not afraid to negotiate a good deal.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian July 8, 2009 at 12:21 AM

That is a great story. I know Ramit would surely be proud of you. The iPhone is a heckuva tool and you absolutely used it to its full potential in this instance!

I hope you are enjoying the new mattress.


Carla July 8, 2009 at 7:37 PM

Once iPhone starts using Verizon, I will switch from my Blackberry to an iPhone (don’t want to use AT&T) ! I am able to do a lot of research the BB, but I know the iPhone navigation is much better.


FFB July 8, 2009 at 11:44 PM

I so wish the iPhone were on other carriers. I can definitely see how the technology is growing to point where netbooks will be obsolete real soon. Still I can’t give up my Sprint SERO plan yet (it’s just too cheap).

Great to hear it pays for you!


Bakari July 9, 2009 at 4:00 PM

My iPhone has saved me in so many different ways I can’t even begin to address it. I value my time almost more than any other resource and it always saves me from wasting it (e.g., maps, movie times, looking up words, accessing documents, etc.).


Shawanda Greene July 9, 2009 at 10:32 PM

@Brian – I need to refer to Ramit’s script on negotiating internet service contracts (he should have something like that). I was only able to get $9 knocked off my monthly internet bill when my new customer discount ended.

@Carla – Not sure why you don’t want to use AT&T, but their customer service is terrible. I really liked Verizon, but a few years back I had to give them up because everyone I talked to regularly had Cingular. I kept going over my minutes. Things have changed so much since then, that’s probably not as much of an issue anymore.

@FFB – I can understand that. My cellphone bill is right at $100 a month. That’s ridiculous. Fortunately, my employer pays the majority of the phone bill. Even still, I use my iPhone so much I’d probably pay 100% of the bill if I had to. I’m hooked now.

@ Bakari – Sometimes I’m a little afraid of how much I’ve grown to rely on technology. Last weekend, I had to drop my friend off at the Phoenix airport since her flight left before mine and my GPS was having some problems. I used Google maps on my iPhone as a backup. I thought if my iPhone freezes up we’re screwed. Back in the old days, i.e., five years ago, you actually had to print out directions and pay attention to where you were going. Life was hard.


Carla July 9, 2009 at 10:48 PM

@Shawanda Greene – Its the customer service and signal/service in my area (East Bay Hills, Bay Area). In my area, Verizon works best but that may change once we move.


annie December 29, 2011 at 6:27 PM

Congrats! Happy that you saved such a chunk of change. I've done this with a laptop and a data card since I don't own a cell phone. Good job!
Annie at Annienygma.com


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