I don’t like to and I don’t intend to post personal things on this blog in the future, but I am going to approach this incident I had with Sleep Number as a case study for how to design software and process incorrectly for a business. This has energized me do a series of thoughts on data integrity and other security concepts. Stay tuned.
Tldr; I was a new customer, but after being scared by the following business and technology practices I am receiving a full refund. I want to be totally clear here in why I chose to ask for a refund. First, Sleep Number not only has the ability to change historical records in their system, I will demonstrate evidence that they did so and have the ability to do so, leaving me with the only conclusion I can draw; this is a common practice without constraints. Second, the sum total on a transaction (order) is not derived from an application/algorithm that validates the math, but an arbitrary value at least editable by a human. Transactions (orders) and the field of assets are note dependant and thus are not required to match. This I saw on their system while working with a manager but didn’t violate their privacy by taking a picture of it, thus you will have to trust this assertion by me. Finally, Sleep Number doesn’t competently train their staff on their systems, policies and most of all data security. I can’t provide evidence of this beyond my personal experience, but I hope providing evidence of the first two assertions will in fact support my second two claims.
My conclusion and plea to Sleep Number customers is to keep a secured physical copy and scanned digital copy of your original receipt. As mentioned later in my post I repeatedly asked the following question that never really was addressed or got answered; “how can I trust that if I have a warranty problem or a billing dispute that someone from Sleep Number won’t edit (and thus falsify) the data to fulfill whatever they want it to say and deny me or over charge me?”
Let’s get into it…
November 23, 2019
I had a good experience in a sleep number store. My wife and I spent probably about 2 hours in the store with our sales person. We chose to purchase the m7 360 queen bed, the queen 360 FlexFit 2, Mattress pad and Remote. After discounts and so on we the total came out to $5877.41.
December 3, 2019
Delivery day. When the delivery men arrived they walked in and immediately said “the steps were too narrow.” They went outside to call and see if there was a split box spring and came back in a few minutes later holding someone else’s queen size box spring. I know it was someone else’s box spring because they told me and it looked well used with a large slit running down the center of it. They were not going to attempt it with mine because “it’s too heavy”. They took pictures and sent it to someone. That person identified themselves as a person working for Sleep Number. They said the workers couldn’t get it up the stairs and either they could leave me to do it or I could reject it and figure something else out.
I’m not upset they couldn’t get the box spring up the steps, but it’s annoying didn’t really try. The workers didn’t attempt with “my” box spring but someone else’s discarded box spring. I don’t know if this is common practice but it doesn’t sit right with me as a customer. I wasn’t totally comfortable with them bring in someone else box spring, but they didn’t ask if it was “OK” or not. The other box spring could have I don’t know what on it. Things like bed bugs or fleas are the first thing to come to mind, but that’s not an exhaustive list. I don’t think it’s good practice and it doesn’t look good. Finally, I rejected the bed and the self identified Sleep Number representative told me that someone will contact me within the hour. It was approximately 3:30.
At about 7:30 I jumped on chat on the Sleep Number website. I told the person the situation and they told me to call in. That was it. In no way helpful. The person was professional and such but if the answer is to “call customer support” it’s useless. I said so on my survey. I called my salesperson Andy giving him an update on the situation and letting him know that no one had called me. He said he was going to “rally the troops” and to expect a call soon. That call didn’t come. I understand a lot of this is more customer service problem and irrelevant to the facts at hand, but this is an edited version of the letter I sent to Customer Support, so I am including the total fail.
December 4th, 2019
In the morning, I checked my orders on the website to validate to see if anything had changed. The order number is 95007971341, showing on Nov 23 the purchase of the items mentioned above and the total matching what is on my paper receipt (see redacted version below ). All good there at that point in time. Somewhere in the ballpark of 2 pm, I contact the store asking for my sales person. He was off but the store manager was working and he confirmed that he saw an email go out to customer care to contact me about options. He didn’t contact me because he assumed someone had done so in the evening when he was off work, but no one had contacted me. He said he would “get right on it”. About 20 minutes later someone DID call me, finally. About 24 hours after rejecting the delivery, I might add. However, I talked with the woman for a little bit. She didn’t so much offer me options but she was trying to be helpful. She listened to the situation and offered to talk to a manager to get me a deal on a potential king size bed and that she would call me back with the figures.
I am going to digress for a moment. I wanted a queen size bed because we don’t really have room for a King. It would be nice, but it also makes the room cramped because of where the attic stairs come down. I DIDN’T want a King but I was willing to go to a King to remain a customer if the price was right. It was more of a space issue, but spending $2000 more on a bed size you don’t want is a hard sell. That’s nearly a ⅓ more than the original price.
While the Customer Care person was running the numbers offline, the White Marsh Store Manager calls me back to make sure that someone contacted me. We continued to chat a bit about the situation and he thought that he could come up with some different options and that may be more cost sensitive. He listened to what I said and he took that feedback into account. He asked to have time to review options and put numbers together. All good.
Shortly after getting off the phone with the store manager, customer care calls back to discuss the one option they put together. I found out later that they put together the most expensive option and were trying to discount some of it down, but the price was still going to be about $1700 more than what I originally paid for a bed size I don’t want. She offered to let me think about it for a while and to call back in if I want to do it, or they can cancel the order. OK. Not the best situation but not the worse experience.
Let it be noted that part of the reason for buying the bed was the two way movement. I was repeatedly offered split queen box springs that are just flat, but for us it was part of the package. We wanted that part or none of it. No movable frame, no deal on my part. In the 24 hour wait before someone called me back, I did research and I found Saatva, a competitor that has a split queen adjustable bed and a sleep number like mattress. I didn’t know they existed until I was ignored and started looking at my options. They have almost exactly what I want. However, the m7 mattress we really like and tested it out. It’s what we wanted.
The manager did have options that were more cost mindful. He offered us an adjustable box spring that had less features, the whole top and bottom move together, but the additional cost was less than $900. I told him I was cooking a birthday dinner for my daughter who turned 7 yesterday and I will think about it and let him know. After dinner I wanted to print a copy of my receipt from the website and something seemed strange…
The Data Integrity Problem of Dec 4 2019
On the website I had 2 orders, one with the original order number from Nov 23 and one from Dec 4 (the day in question). The electronic receipt for the Nov 23 had only 2 items on it and totaled $7,565.21. This doesn’t seem right for the two items (Total protection mattress pad and 12-button smart bed remote, which has the price crossed out saying FREE. The price of the mattress pad was $219.99. They do not total $7565.21 nor does it match the paper receipt I have of $5877.41). Mind you, this still has the date of Nov 23 and no record of my original order. The second order when clicked would take me back to the home page… IF I didn’t have my paper receipt feel like I could be in a bad situation. I decided that it would be best to talk to the store manager and make sure the deal matched what we had and to sort out this problem. If the configuration of the mattress matched we were going to spend the extra, even though it creates a sub optimal situation, because we really wanted the mattress.
I headed to the store ready to check on things and spend the money. I talked with the manager for a while and I validated it was the mattress we wanted and it had the same or comparable features, then we started to discuss the order changes. He checked the order in the store and couldn’t find a digital copy of the original receipt. He implied that they had a printed copy, but we used my copy as the master receipt. I want to reiterate that the date on the existing receipt still said Nov 23, which is changing history. At this point, we validated the order ID was the same and we thought maybe the previous order changed but they assigned the assets to me. We checked the assets section and that didn’t match what I had.
I want to be totally clear here in why I chose to ask for a refund at this point. Frist, the digital records of my transaction were modified by someone, without my permission, destroying the previous record trustworthiness. The assets I was said to own, didn’t match the assets I was supposed to own. The math in the order didn’t add up (remember the $219.99 for mattress pad + the $0 for the remote) to $7565.21. Nothing about my order was the same nor was it consistent internally, let alone externally compared to my physical receipt. If historical orders can be modified, assets can be inaccurately assigned and totals don’t have to add up, nothing can be trusted. I asked this question to everyone I spoke to that night from customer care and I am asking you the reader right now; taking into account all of the above how can I trust that if I have a warranty problem or a billing dispute that someone from Sleep Number won’t edit the data to fulfill whatever they want it to say and deny me or over charge me? If I chose to stick with you I feel I would need to take notes to protect myself from you, the company I am trying to purchase from. That is literally the worst possible customer experience I can imagine. Having to protect myself from a seller.
The rest of the experience wasn’t great either. I spoke to 4 different people, 3 of which were “supervisors”. The first person I talked to more or less just transferred me after hearing the beginning of my experience. I spoke to the first supervisor who said that since I physically took the mattress pad on Nov 23, that it could not be returned and I wouldn’t be refunded for it. Which doesn’t make sense, because I didn’t know I had the option of waiting AND I was intending on getting the bed, which now I wasn’t. It was unopened and I was standing in the store with store manager confirming he had it. So they transferred me to person 3.
3rd person identified themselves as a supervisor during introduction. No notes from the previous 2 people nor the change in my order, nor my issues with pricing were added to any notes. A cold transfer. The previous person, without my permission, issued a refund for the items sans the mattress pad. So when we started looking at the order it didn’t show anything but a mattress pad. I didn’t want 2 refunds, I was expecting 1 refund. Completing transactions without consent or knowledge just adds to the laundry list of problems but makes me feel violated as a customer and proves again I can’t trust people at Sleep Number to not change things without consent or record of the change. This woman was nice and helpful but she was asking me things about your system that I can’t possibly know and that put me in a really uncomfortable and scary situation. She mentioned to me at one point that she stills see the mattress pad and the remote on my account, but it says they have been refunded; except there is an X mark next to them so she could delete them. Then she asked ME what she should do. How am I supposed to know what that does? I don’t want to say “yes” because it might remove it and I may never get a refund on it. That may delete it from my history and I don’t even know what that would mean in this context. She eventually threw in the metaphorical towel and said I should talk to her supervisor. “The queue has a 3 minute wait time” she said…
30 minutes later, literally past the store closing time, the next person picks up. The store manager originally called on the store phone, we didn’t want to disconnect and possibly lose all the progress. The store manager was a real professional about it. He didn’t mention the store closing. He was apologetic. He never once put time pressure on me. This is why I wanted to stick with you guys, but the customer care is a disaster.
Finally I reached the 4th and final person of the night. We had a mattress cover that needed to be removed and various things on the account that were wrong and so on. The final person did see the last person’s notes, but we were mostly at an impasse. She talked to the store manager and ultimately did a refund and return on the mattress pad. She said a confirmation email could take days, but she sent me a pdf version directly.
We finally reached another problem with the nonsense way your system works, she couldn’t send me any confirmation that I would be refunded the remaining amount. She assured me it would be paid back into the finance CC within 7 -10 business days, but can’t give me any sort of confirmation. So I have trust that Sleep Number is going to pay me after all of this nonsense. I have negative trust in Sleep Number ability to manage and handle data. I have 0 confidence I will actually get paid. I have great confidence that data is being manipulated without customer consent or knowledge. I just wanted to buy a bed and you now have me taking screenshots of receipts and hoarding documents because your reality has proven to be changeable.
I don’t even know if anyone will read this or understand the gravity of how negative an experience this has been for me personally and financially. I hope this makes it to the desk of an executive so they can understand what happened and change something to fix this for someone else. I went into a store ready to spend a ⅓ more for a bed I didn’t want but left with a refund.
Every step of the way my trust was eroded and it ultimately lead to total disappointment.
To continue the drama and story, I wrote the above in a google doc and I was intending on sending it to a customer feedback email. I couldn’t find an email on the website and the email on the business card I had blocks emails. So I went to chat gain… Chat explained that they don’t offer an email. In 2019, they don’t offer email nor a feedback submission form or anything really. I, having worked as a project manager, love to get direct feedback from customers. The person on chat said give him feedback and he will get it to leaders. So I proceeded to split this up and past it into a chat window…
After realizing that I am talking into the void and it’s not likely going anywhere I figured I’d hit social media. I sent my feedback letter as a message on Facebook, Twitter DM and finally the only email address I had gotten from them. Facebook was the fastest to respond, but I did get response for all of them, to their credit. I got a personal phone call from the last person I spoke to from Sleep Number, saying she received the note and that she is meeting with an executive in a week and will take the feedback directly to them. We shall see if that changes anything. If an executive reaches out to me, I will post an update to the dramatic part of the story.
Finally, in between the time of me writing this and posting it… there is yet a third version of the same order number floating out there. I took a screen cap from my computer showing the date. This shows as if I am still being charged for this time… I guess we will have to see if they ever give me my money back. I have no reason to trust their system or policies and a lot of reasons not to trust them…
Look out for future post from me on data security and integrity.