Mattress Connection Los Angeles / unethical operation
Considered filing this report for a long time. The public should know what an unethical outfit this company is.
Mattress Connection is a company based in Los Angeles owned by Tony and Joann Bartz.
For over a year, I was a store manager for the Bartzs. I was called and recruited to come to work for them. The day I entered the store they assigned me to, I was shocked. Many of the mattresses on the showroom floor were filthy. The backroom had been some sort of makeshift bedroom for a former employee who apparently was homeless and slept in the store. There was sand all over the back room and desk areas (apparently the person staying there had used the showers on the beach in the morning and carried sand back in). Shelves were full of stale food. The refrigerator also was backed with decaying food. It took me several days of clean up just to get the store to a point that the health department wouldn't shut it down.
For the next several weeks, I worked very hard. The windows in the store were filthy and had never been cleaned. In the afternoon sun, you could see the pet store decals that had been scraped off the windows by the previous tenant of the store. Out of my own pocket, I paid for a professional cleaner to clean the windows inside and out. Bartz claimed he'd reimburse me but never did. I sold off the soiled inventory and restocked the store. I personally mopped the floors, dusted the shelves, wiped down all the counters and brought the store up to acceptable standards. Bushes were overgrown on the outside of the store and Bartz suggested I should get gardening equipment on my own and trim the bushes but I drew the line on that.
The store's computer system needed to be quarantined. It was full of viruses and malware from porn sites. It took me several days to debug the computer, run virus cleaning programs and generally get the computer back to a state where customer information (bank card info, etc) was safe.
As time proceeded in the heavy buying time of the year (May to September), my store sales numbers were consistently atop the whole company. Bartz called me routinely to compliment me that I was "leading the company in sales." Unfortunately, my income *never* reflected this. At my previous employers in the mattress business, I could always estimate to a close hit what my pay would be. Not with Bartz. I never know what my pay would be and I was always disappointed. I started keeping spreadsheets of my sales and my commissions, but my pay never added up to what it should have been.
As Autumn came around, store traffic numbers started to slow. Bartz was not doing ANY ADVERTISING (none) and my store was between two of the biggest advertisers in the mattress business. I had brought a large number of customers with me as I started working for Bartz but had cycled through those customers and needed fresh business. I repeatedly told Bartz that I was not getting ANY floor traffic. It was off season and days would pass with no one coming into the store. Bartz's solution to this was to hire a "sign spinner" and to have this individual call in to him daily behind my back with traffic counts. One day I overheard the sign spinner on the phone reporting that the store had been visited by SEVEN customers that day. SEVEN! Who were these SEVEN customers you ask? A poor couple with 5 young children looking for $200 beds for the whole family. The cheapest bed we sold was $500. SEVEN customers? 2 broke adults and 5 young kids.
One family. Seven customers? Right. Sure.
I was starting to conclude that I needed to get another job. The only thing that kept me was the fact that after all this time, I had turned the store around and it was presentable, clean and professional. All I needed were some fresh customers.
Bartz sent in "Jeff" who was one of his buddies on my day off to run the store and monitor floor traffic numbers. On the first day "Jeff" worked my store on my day off, he showed up an hour late and lost a Tempurpedic sale. The customer whom I had talked to previously showed up to buy a Tempurpedic and waited until almost 11 (the store opens at 10). No one was there so the customer went down the street to "R Mattress" and bought a $6000 Tempurpedic ... a 5-minute sale because he already knew what he wanted. "Jeff" worked my store for the next 4 weeks on my off day. Never sold a thing in 5 weeks. Not even a pillow. I came in after my day off to find he had made a bed to sleep on in the back room. I told Bartz I couldn't have this guy in the store anymore. Jeff was one of Tony's buddies. He'd been fired by my former employer. This is the guy who now "trained" new employees. 5 weeks but couldn't run a single sale? Inspirational huh?
About a week after that, a hoodlum-looking character walked in the store about 5 minutes after opening. He gave me the appearance he had just gotten out of jail. He also had a blinking bluetooth headset in his ear showing in active mode (someone on the other end eavesdropping). I was on alert but greeted him knowing immediately that he wasn't a legitimate customer but some sort of "shopper" (we had been seeing shoppers from one of our competitors on a regular basis). The man started asking how many discounts I would give him. We hadn't even selected any beds yet or done any qualification on what he was looking for. He started jumping on beds going from $600 beds to $1100 beds to $4000 beds demanding that give him discount numbers on each bed. I stopped him and explained that I was not interested in doing accounting assignments but rather helping him find the best bed for his needs. When I started asking him questions about his sleeping situation, he refused to answer any of my professional questions and told me his job was to "get a bed to please his wife." We weren't getting anywhere and he then asked what the most expensive bed in the store was. I explained that expensive isn't always the only consideration but the answer to his question were the Tempurpedics and the Airlooms. We were standing next to the Airlooms (in firm, med and soft varieties) and he asked "how much discount on the Airlooms." I asked which firmness level he wanted and he said he didn't care, and pressed for a discount. I told him that I didn't work that way and we needed to find a suitable bed matching his needs before we started in on any negotiations. He didn't like my answer and said he was going to leave and keep looking. As he left I told him he was welcome to return with his wife and with time to answer basic questions about his sleep needs.
2 hours later Bartz called and asked if I'd seen anyone that whole day. I had never taken the "shopper" at the start of the day seriously and had forgotten about him. No one else had come in. The *right* answer would have been "yeah some timewaster came in but was clearly some plant and not a real customer." But I just said that I hadn't seen anyone.
2 hours after that Bartz and his hoodlum buddy walked into the store with my final pay. Bartz introduced the hoodlum as his new sales manager. I was happy to leave. I gathered up everything that was important (am sure I left some personal items) and darted never looking back.
Now you've read this far and you say ... well surely Bartz is not a good employer but maybe he's ok for the consumer? Not true. He's shady. Bartz is the only guy in the business who offers a free "no restocking fee" comfort exchange. Don't like your bed? You have 90 days to return it and get anything else you like. No questions asked. Sounds good right? Hold on.
Tempurpedic is the ONLY manufacturer who takes their beds back. None of the other manufacturers do. So you don't like your bed. You return it. You've slept on it. You've had sex on it. You've dropped glasses of water into it. But you don't like it and you want to return it. You go back to the store and do a comfort exchange. Next day the delivery team is at your front door taking your 90-day-old mattress out and bringing you a different new one. What do you think Bartz does with that returned mattress? Dispose of it? Not a chance. Return it to the manufacturer? Again with the exception of Tempurpedic, manufacturers don't take mattresses back. Donate it to charity? LOL. Nope. Quick inspection for stains and back into the warehouse it goes. If you ignore all of this and do business with Bartz, the least you should do it run a black light over any "new" mattress you get from his company looking for body fluids. Why do you think he insists on mattress protectors? Because if you and your significant other get wild on the mattress and do an exchange, the mattress protector SHOULD prevent the body fluids from leaking into the mattress.
Some companies do NOT do comfort exchanges at all. R-Mattress is one of those companies. Do you think the owner of R-Mattress refuses to do comfort exchanges just to be anti-consumer? No. He wants to be an ethical business man and always sell you a fresh mattress, not a used one. And no I don't work for R-Mattress. I just know the industry and the competition.
What about other ethical lapses. Bartz will violate any of Tempurpedic's contract rules. He will offer anyone he wants special pricing on Tempurpedic products. Ortho Mattress used to sent the owner's son into Bartz's stores to do price shopping on Tempurpedics. Bartz got nailed but sneaked out of the mess by lying to Tempurpedic. Bartz does not play by the rules.
I could go on. Dirty behind the scenes operations. You get the idea. I wouldn't buy anything from Mattress Connection. Neither should you. But the reviews aren't bad on Yelp you say? Easy. Want a really good deal? Look like a softie? The salesman promises you an extra discount if you write a good review. Notice how all the glowing reviews always go overboard complimenting the salesman? A guy you spent 45 minutes with? That's because the salesman bribes the customers to write good reviews. As part of human nature, the bribed customer just focuses in on complimenting the salesman. After all it's the salesman the customer is trying to please to get a better deal. If my company allows me to violate rules and discount products and give special deals, I can fill up 100 Yelp pages with great reviews too. Want a hint? Looking to beat the mattress salesman down to nothing on your new mattress? Check Yelp for the stores with the most positive reviews and who consistently brag about how great "Muhammad was" making them happy. Muhammad is a schmuck. He just gives huge discounts to easy marks for great reviews. Go into that store and ask for Muhammad and tell him you'll write a great review for another 20% off (after you negotiate your best price). Just be careful. Muhammad probably works for a company who does easy comfort exchanges and that "new mattress" you get might just have a few leftovers in it from the previous people who had it for 90 days or less.
Special hint: Inspect and REJECT ANY mattress being delivered to your house that is NOT in a SEALED plastic bag. I'm not talking about a plastic bag that's been neatly taped in place. I'm talking SEALED. They come that way from the manufacturer and they should come that way to your home.
So you've made it this far and you have a question. If Bartz and a few others like him are unethical, who are the best companies in the business to use. I'll answer this as if you were my relative looking for that same advice from me. If I were in the market for a new mattress, I'd probably use either LA Mattress or R-Mattress. Both seem like very ethically run companies (and no I do not and have never worked for either). If you want a "big" company experience, I'd recommend Ortho Mattress (I was a store manager for Ortho before going to Bartz). I am no longer in the mattress business and am retired.)
A good night's sleep is vital for good health. You deserve the best. Shop wisely.