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Tempur-Pedic’s Confusing Copy

March 28th, 2007 by Bob Bly

Tempur-Pedic, a direct marketer of mattresses and beds, does great direct mail.

But the offer in a Tempur-Pedic letter I got today has me a bit confused:

“Pay nothing for an entire year — absolutely NO PAYMENTS, and NO INTEREST if you pay for your items in full within 12 months of the date of purchase.”

When I edit out the middle part, it reads:

“Pay nothing for an entire year if you pay in full within 12 months.”

Am I missing something, or is “pay nothing for an entire year” the total opposite of “pay in full within 12 months”?

I can’t imagine that other recipients of this mailing aren’t also confused.

Am I dense? Do you get what the offer is?

Or does Tempur-Pedic’s copywriter need an editor?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2007 at 9:55 am and is filed under Direct Marketing, General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

44 responses about “Tempur-Pedic’s Confusing Copy”

  1. Dr. Nishi Viswanathan said:

    Tempur Pedic’s marketing campaign is sure to confound many consumers. I think this is what they mean-

    Let us say a mattress costs 500 dollars, if you write them a check for 500 dollars ANYTIME in the next 12 months, they will charge you no interest and you won’t need to send them any monthly payments at all.

    How different is this from making no-interest monthly payments? I am not sure. Perhaps if you are expecting a chunk of money to come your way in the next 12 months, this might make sense.

    This is only my understanding. Who knows what they really meant.

    All said and done, bad copy.

  2. Sean Woodruff said:

    It is a bit confusing but what they really mean is…

    You better pay us WITHIN 12 months or we’re hitting you with 30% interest, in one lump sum, on day 366.

  3. Suzanne Ryan said:

    “Pay nothing for an entire year — absolutely NO PAYMENTS, and NO INTEREST if you pay for your items in full within 12 months of the date of purchase.”

    Wow….that is truly bad writing! Or intentionally deceptive. I still don’t know what they mean.

  4. Jodi Kaplan said:

    Hmm, I think they mean, “You have up to a year to pay. We won’t charge you interest during that time.” And then, as Sean says, they wallop you on day 366.

    It’s really bad writing.

  5. Copywriting Services said:

    Hi Bob,

    Confusing to say in one word.

    Eager to know the metrics of this promotion.

    No prize for guessing too,

    Edward Santosh

  6. Sean D'Souza said:

    I know just what you mean. Yesterday I covered a similar piece on my blog about confusion. I got an email from Shutterfly and it was clearly a FREE offer with an expiry date etc.

    And when I went to the page, they seemed to want to charge me $9.99. I bailed.

  7. Robert Kopacz said:

    Poorly written. Based on the timing of the mailing, it seems as though they are after people who are thinking about what to buy with their tax refund checks, and hoping that people will pay within a few months of buying their mattress out of those funds. They should have just addressed that directly, don’t you think?

  8. Ramsey Fahel said:

    Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

    The proposed recent “Do not mail” is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing – and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

    I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

    The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, ““In today’s [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today’s merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman’s mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive.”

    Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, “the mailer’s right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

    To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail.”

    We need a nationwide “Do Not Mail” law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

    Ramsey A Fahel

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Ransey, the danger is economic: advertising mail supports the U.S. Postal Service. They MAKE money on ad mail. They LOSE money on first-class mail. If ad mail revenues decline, you and I could end up paying a dollar to mail a letter!

  10. Jim Logan said:

    Am I the only one that sees the irony that Ransey spamed this post with an unrelated comment to promote not receiving spam in the mail.

    Now that’s funny.

  11. Damian Petrini said:


    You are not alone in seeing the irony in Ransey’s spam about not spamming.

    As for the confusing Tempur-Pedic copy, it is not the first time I have seen some of their copy written like that before.

    In fact, they still don’t quite have their direct mail campaigns as fine tuned as they can. I have been on there mailing list for several years now, and even though I bought one of their beds a few years back (and I absolutely love the bed!!!), they still send me promotions target brand new buyers that have never purchased one of their products before, even after I told them that I already bought one and even filled out the warranty card.

    They are great lessons for all of us to fine tune and hone our own copywriting and direct response marketing skills.


  12. Michael A. Stelzner said:


    For the price of those mattresses…

    They better do something to try and sell them.

    How about this:

    “Sleep great for one year or pay nothing”


    “Pay now and avoid a year’s of payments, GUARANTEED”


  13. Bob Bly said:

    MS: They should hire you. I like “sleep great for ONE YEAR or pay nothing” — a one-year money back guarantee! But what would you hold them to it if you bought the bed for a young kid and he peed the mattress after a nightmare?

  14. David Baratton said:

    The question is: does this offer actually work? Or are they
    creating more work for themselves in customer hassle?

    If you see this mattress offer coming back, over and over, you
    know it’s making money somehow…

  15. Bob Bly said:

    David: Even if it somehow works, it is not clear. Making it clearer would almost certainy increase sales, and if you’re not as confident of that as I am, it is certainy easy enough to test.

  16. Manage Your Writing said:

    Pay nothing if you pay in full

    Bob Bly, maybe the world’s best known copywriter, has posted a great example of confusing business writing. He tells the story: Tempur-Pedic, a direct marketer of mattresses and beds, does great direct mail. But the offer in a Tempur-Pedic letter

  17. Michael said:

    Could be a case where the copywriter was “leveraging” copy from a previous DM piece that had slightly different messaging and neglected to massage it properly.

    Frankly, I’ve never been too impressed with the company’s DM pieces. I inquired about their mattresses once—because of my bad back—and then got an avalanche of DM pieces that continues unabated to this day! All are overloaded, in my opinion, with way too much information and copy. I even tracked on a calendar when I received various DMs for a whole year…I could discern no predictable pattern to getting them. Unfortunately, the constant hitting me with DMs soured me on the product. I liken it to asking a car salesman a simple question about a car only to have the guy follow you around the lot and refusing to leave you alone. I mean, I might have been interested in a car, but the unwanted focus on getting my business by not letting up only serves to tick me off.

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