Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Pixel Organics Scam: Mattress Bait and Switch

So, we've been had: we did buy the mattress that Pixel Organics advertises, but we got something completely different that's not even close. This is bait and switch, not green-washing or other light stuff.
Take a look at the picture above, that shows on the left what's advertised and on the right what we got in the box: the mattress comes in without any certification or warranty, we read the compulsory labels to find that it's made by a company that's 35 years old and makes truck mattresses; not 90 years old and they don't claim to make any organic mattress. It is labeled as an Ecobaby or Pure Rest mattress. In summary: not certified, no manufacturer's warranty and not 90 year old tradition. A mattress manufacturer that matches that description is Vivetique, meets all the claims but Pixel Organics is not even listed as a dealer.

We contacted CSN Baby (where we bought it) and told them about the scam; they fixed their page to a certain extent (see picture to the right), and offered a full refund for return; we did return the mattress and we're looking for one with less "creative" salesmanship...

But it bugged me that such a blatant bait and switch scam is possible: you advertise a nice product, with fine craftsmanship and you swap it with something with much lower quality. I googled left and right and found no-one that complained about it. Then I wrote to the owner of Pixel Organics (which contacted us for the original post to tell that we got the manufacturer wrong...) Here's his response:

"The mattress you received was from a manufacturer Pure-Rest uses
(Flexus). I purchased the mattress from them because my supplier was
out of stock. It is a very very very similar mattress. We are trying
not to do this but supply is not meeting our demand from our preferred
vendor."

Does this sound like "We're trying not to deceive people, but we do"? I wonder if anyone ever got the real thing, because in my 2 experiences the mattresses were Pure Rest and not the advertised one (remember the store where we kept on saying Pixel and they kept on saying Pure Rest? that's the 2nd one.). So I did write to Chris about it, here's the whole, unedited thread:

ABunchOfGreens: "No matter the explanation, it's still bait and switch and deception;
Vivetique has indeed 90 years of experience and certifications, and...
and... (all the good things that make customers buy their mattress),
and they do buy, but they get instead a mattress made by a fine
establishment that makes truck mattresses. I can go around town in the
stores that distribute pixel mattresses and see how many are
knock-downs and how many the original.

Here's an analogy: you go and choose a BMW X5, you're charged $80,000
for it and you get this in return: http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2008/06/toyota-rav4-bmw-x5-chinese-clones-go-on.html;
the CEO of BMW assures you it's a very very very similar car and he
tries his best, but the Munich plant was busy for you.

Hope you see my point; when can I get my BMW mattress? (The clone is
still in the box, you can make still it right). The mattress I've
selected and I've already paid full price for it was not delivered.
Getting anything less is deception and maybe even fraud.

Regards, etc..."

Chris: "Of coarse I see your point. We should be able to replace your mattress
next week with as you call it" BMW Mattress"."

So I contemplated the idea of arguing about shipping, replacements, the possibility that I'll get yet another deceiving product (what's the probability that someone that lied twice will lie again? Huge, I'd say.) So I decided I don't even want to do business at all with Pixel Organics. We returned the mattress and we're looking for a "real" one in store, any other brand. I'm no Erin Brockovich to dig the fraud and save the world, I just hate being lied to.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lucia,

We are a small company and trying to do right by our customers. I have read your words with much consideration and will work on "re-messaging" on our website to ensure that there is no grey in what we are saying. We too are believers that green washing only hurts what is a very valiant market. I would, however, ask that you rethink and reword your personal and slanderous attacks on myself and my company. You have made some very lofty personal attacks that, frankly, are unfounded and unjustified.

I have tried to be as helpful and open as possible. In light of what I felt was an ongoing conversation and I was insulted by reading your post denigrating my reputation as a distributor of organic mattresses and accusing me of "lying to you twice" I had, until today, the good intentions of replacing your mattress with one made by Vivetique, our preferred vendor. And yes it is rather import for us to not name our vendor for mattresses.

Do you feel justified in your attempts to potentially hurt our business? Do you remember the lengthy emails I sent you detailing our mattress program. I agreed you could use my emails to post on your sight with the understanding you would not be using them to hurt my business. We also provided you with a top quality organic mattress. Do you feel vindicated by being able to name our preferred vendor for mattresses? I am uncertain what you are trying to accomplish by your recent post besides hurting our business.

With regards to your claims:

You said, "we did buy the mattress that Pixel Organics advertises, but we got something completely different that's not even close. This is bait and switch, not green-washing or other light stuff."
The mattress we provided is exactly the mattress we promised.
You said, "not certified, no manufacturer's warranty"
We provided you with our warranty and the materials are certified organic.
You said,"We're trying not to deceive people, but we do"? I wonder if anyone ever got the real thing, because in my 2 experiences the mattresses were Pure Rest and not the advertised one (remember the store where we kept on saying Pixel and they kept on saying Pure Rest? that's the 2nd one.)
This is an obvious attempt to harm our business. Manufacturing mattresses is not deceiving process and that is why the law label is there so you know who constructed the mattress according to California law.
You said, "and not 90 year old tradition"
The mattress from Flexus is using the same 90 year old traditional manufacturing process and the same materials as Vivetique. This is why Eco-baby and us are comfortable with the quality of their mattresses.
You said, "A mattress manufacturer that matches that description is Vivetique, meets all the claims but Pixel Organics is not even listed as a dealer."
With regards the the mattress you are waiting for I am current waiting the completion of my (stock program) mattresses from Vivetique and expect them to be available this week. I will also have President of Vivetique personally contact you regarding our reputation as a distributor not dealer of their mattress. The relationship is a bit more involved then that of a simple dealer.
You said, "I wonder if anyone ever got the real thing, because in my 2 experiences the mattresses were Pure Rest and not the advertised one"
In the course of two months we have shipped only 24 crib mattresses that originated from an Eco-Baby vendor. You have only been interacting with us for the past three weeks, so you would have received only Eco-baby supplied mattresses.

Please understand a few basic things about manufacturing processes in general. Quite often brand names do not own the manufacturing and rather contract that work out. It's simple economics and the rational behind it is the brand name will not have the burdensome manufacturing overhead and the contract manufacturers can work on different products within their area of expertise to maximize their productivity. Almost all apparel and electronics companies operate in this fashion. A computer you purchase from Apple maybe made in any number of different factories which Apple does not OWN, yet you would call Apple the manufacturer of THE computers. The same is true for cars or food products.

There are a number of factories that can assemble and sew mattresses. According to California law the contractor whom assembles the mattress is required to place the law label on the mattress. Vivetique happens to own the means to their manufacturing process (their own factory) as does Flexus. Eco-Baby (Pure-Rest) has the knowledge and understanding of what is involved in making an organic mattress, but outsources its actual production (in this case with Flexus or until very recently it was Vivetique). In the case of the mattress you received Eco-baby has asked Flexus to copy the exact construction of the Vivetique mattress using the same certified organic cotton and wool as well as recycled content innerspring coils for the production of their mattresses. For your edification Vivetique does not work with Eco-Baby anymore due to reasons I can not discuss.

Product vs Product -- both are "A" Quality products.

One of the main reasons we were drawn to Vivetique and chose them as our preferred vendor (over Eco-Baby) is that their "message" was that of a great mattress rather than that of "fear." This is in line with the philosophy of Pixel Organics. We like that they too are a family run business and we trust in their business for many of the "right reasons." We believe that they have a beautiful product. We have been working with them since late 2006. Vivetique is our primary vendor, however, due to manufacturing complications this summer into fall we have found it necessary to source a second manufacturer in order to fulfill orders that we receive. We have great respect for the product that is made by Eco-Baby and chosen their factory or would not in good conscious have been able to offer this substitute. Again, in the course of two months we have shipped only 24 crib mattresses that originated from Eco-Baby.

Regards,
Chris

Anonymous said...

Hello Lucia,

The mattress you received was from a manufacturer Pure-Rest uses (Flexus). I purchased the mattress from them because my supplier was out of stock. It is a very very very similar mattress. We are trying not to do this but supply is not meeting our demand from our preferred vendor.

RE: 15%/5% - The 15% organic cotton/ 5% organic wool refers to the amount of cotton and wool used in relationship to the total material mass of the mattress. The remain 80% is innerspring. I know this is a bit confusing and not the way I would recommend labeling the mattress, but it is not our decision.

RE: Warranty - I have attached the warranty on this email for you to keep in your records. We are working on method to provide customers with the ability to download this warranty because Pure-Rest and not include them in the box for us. Hopefully we will be able to have a continual stock from our preferred vendor by then.

Sorry about the confusion and the frustrations that you may have at this point. Just know that I very much appreciate your comments and inquiries and am constantly striving to provide the best products ad the best price to the best of our abilities.

Best,
Chris

Lucia said...

Please read the whole thing, including Pixel Organics owner, Chris, rebuttal to my post, it is important that his voice is heard. I don't intend to harm anyone's business, this is a candid and personal opinion. Maybe the regulations (or lack thereof) allows one to claim something is certified when something else is. Maybe I don't understand that it's legal for one to bend the words "manufacturer's warranty" when it does manufacture things. (The Apple products carry the Apple brand, though, and are backed by Apple's reputation, even when the manufacturing has been delegated.)

I do believe that business making and selling organic products have to be encouraged. I also believe they have to be encourages to be truthful in the way that most people understand truth rather than leaning on the edges of regulations.

Like with any blog that's not sponsored by any business or interest, this is my personal opinion. As with any review, some people have good experiences and some not. That's how great companies become greater, they listen to the voice of the customers.

I appreciate Chris being so active in this process, he is listening and I hope his business will gain from his strive to excellence. I have based my choice based on organic certifications and 90 year old experience of manufacturing; I have made my decision to return the product on the fact that neither was delivered and small business have one single chance to get my business because they lack reputation. I'm one of 24, apparently, so there are likely 23 happy customers out there that will write reviews. In that even, there will be 96% happy customers. The remaining ones that did get the real certified organic mattress will really drown this singular review in noise.

Anonymous said...

Their products are too expensive anyway. They have cute design for bedding but did you see lately the organic cotton line from Pottery Barn Kids? It is very cute and their prices are lower. I hope people are searching better when they buy organic cotton products. Pixel Organics is just too expensive at least for me.

Anonymous said...

Pixel Organics is a great company that makes their clothes (and fabric) in the USA. Yes it does cost more for things made in the USA, but that is the customers choice to support USA-made or not. Most organic clothing is made in India and China (not that I have anything against those countries, but obviously products made there are cheaper due to lower labor costs).

Anonymous said...

I am the owner of Pure-Rest/Ecobaby. We manufacture the crib mattress. We have improved the Vivetique mattress by providing organic wool instead of pure grow wool, 3 lbs extra of organic cotton , and fully quilted our cotton. We used to sell Vivetique but the cotton shifted and we got returns. So although Vivetique has 18 years making organic mattresses and we have only 17 years, we have improved the mattress. There should not be any deception. We are the manufacturer, Flexus did the tape edging only for us as a finishing and as contract labor. It is sad that this customer wishes to take down smaller companies in an attempt to help the large company continue to sell a less firm, less organic mattress. Perhaps everyone just needs to be clear on what the customer is buying. In the case of Pure-Rest and Ecobaby you are buying a mattress that is fully tested for any checmiacl content. In the case of Vivetique you are buying from a synthetic mattress manufacturer that has been in business longer, yet makes a crib mattress that we personally had over 40 returns of due to softness in 2006 and which is not tested for purity at all. No test results on Vivetique. Of course, it is the customers choice on what they purchase. We could tape edge here but then we have to raise the price in order to pay for machinery that FLexus has already. So we opted to save the customer and go with professional finishing.