ZQuietI’ve been told that sometimes I snore.

Because my father suffers from sleep apnea (which causes him to snore like a swarm of chainsaws), I went and did a sleep study last year to see if I had sleep apnea, too.

Nope! The study noted that I fall asleep on average in less than 5 minutes and have normal REM patterns. The study also noted that I have “mild snoring.” Although, my guess is that my snoring is mild only relative to those with sleep apnea.

I know my snoring affects my wife’s sleep, however. But she’s way too nice to be mean about it. She’s used earplugs to muffle the noise and in extreme cases, resorted to using music from her iPhone to drown me out help her get to sleep.

So when the (admittedly cheesy) commercial for the ZQuiet Anti Snoring Mouthpiece came on the TV a couple of weeks ago, she casually mentioned “Maybe you should check one of those out!” I’m no rookie – so I took the hint and ordered one.

Skeptical from the start

As with any “miracle cure” product, I was skeptical from the start. But the commercial said that I could test it out for free (if you define “free” as $9.95 shipping and handling), and then pay another $59.95 if I decided to keep it. The fine print (which I found on their website before ordering) says:

This is a 30-day trial period. No returns will be accepted without a RMA number, or from 30 days after original purchase date printed on your receipt unless specified by a ZQuiet Counselor.

Initially, I couldn’t tell if that meant 30 days from the day I ordered it, 30 days from the day it shipped, 30 days from the day they processed my credit card, 30 days from the day it arrived, or some other combination involving 30 days. Generally, when companies are this vague in their marketing materials, my Spider Sense™ tingles… However, I found the answer in their really fine print at the bottom of their home page: the 30 days starts when the order ships.

Regardless of the trial period, I didn’t worry, because ZQuiet’s website stated that they accept American Express. I use my Amex to pay for everything I possibly can – not only because I get airline miles, but because of their fantastic purchase protection. Some merchants prefer not to accept American Express because they pay a higher processing rate than with VISA or MasterCard. Also, disputing a charge with a VISA or MC is a somewhat complicated process, and my experience has been that with any disputed charge, they generally assume the merchant is “innocent until proven guilty.” With Amex, it’s the other way around: the customer is always right. If I have any issues, I just tell Amex and they reverse the charge, no questions asked. My Amex also has an additional level of purchase protection: if I decide I don’t want the product any time within 90 days of purchasing it, and can’t return it to the merchant for a full refund, Amex will just eat the charge themselves.

So, feeling protected by Amex, I ordered a ZQuiet online. During the ordering process, ZQuiet tried to upsell me on the shipping. They claim that the “standard” shipping (via US Mail) will take 8-12 business days, but for an additional $7.95, you can select “rush” shipping, which takes 3-5 business days. In both cases, they claim that it takes 24-48 hours to process the order before shipping.

Personally, it sounds to me like they are artificially delaying the “standard” shipping procedure in an attempt to make an extra 8 bucks. It should never take 8-12 days for something to be delivered from anywhere in the US to anywhere in the US.

Still, cheapskate that I am, I ordered one online on January 12th with standard shipping, and received an email confirmation at 2:45 PM, less than a minute after my order.

Email #1

55.25 hours after my order, on January 14th at 10:00 PM, I got this email:

This was a bit surprising, because I have an American Express Centurion card – which technically isn’t even “allowed” to decline. Also, I use a secure utility to autofill my credit card information into online forms, so I know the number, expiration, and security code were entered correctly.

Customer Service phone call #1

On January 15th, I called the number in the email to see what was up. After a few minutes on hold, a representative came on the line, looked up my order, and then asked if perhaps I wanted to use a different credit card. I replied that I’d rather use my Amex. He then asked me to confirm the credit card information, after which he said “Ah – a number had been entered incorrectly.” He read the “corrected” information back to me and I confirmed it. He said they would process the order that day.

Voicemail #1

On January 17th, at 11:53 AM, an automated ZQuiet computer left this voicemail on my Google Voice number (press the blue “play” button):
Strange… didn’t I already fix this problem? How could they be having problems again?

Customer service phone call #2

That same day, I called ZQuiet and talked to a girl this time. She asked if I would like to use a different credit card (at which point I really started to be suspicious). I replied that I’d rather use my Amex. She said that their systems “sometimes have trouble processing American Express.” My first thought was “then you probably shouldn’t put the Amex logo in your TV commercials and website or include Amex as a payment option,” but what I said out loud was “Hmm, that’s strange. Let’s try my Amex again anyway.” I recited the numbers to her, at which point she said “Oh – the numbers had been entered incorrectly.” That’s when my Spider Sense™ really started to tingle. I had her read the numbers back to me twice to confirm. She apologized and said they’d process the order that night.

Voicemail #2

The next day, on January 18th, at 4:29 PM, I got this voicemail on my Google Voice number:

Sound familiar?

Let’s call the whole thing off

At this point, I made the decision to forget the whole thing and just ignore ZQuiet. They clearly didn’t want me to pay with my Amex, and that was a huge red flag. It made me suspect all sorts of things – mostly based on the assumption that they’d place the charge on a card that is more difficult for a customer to dispute. I thought if it didn’t work for me and I tried to return the mouthpiece, maybe they’d “lose” it, or it might mysteriously arrive just one day after the trial period. So I decided to just ignore ZQuiet, and assumed the order would just never ship.

Email #2

The following day, on January 19th at 10:00 PM, I got another email from ZQuiet, identical to the first one, saying that my credit card was declined. Again, I suspected some sort of scam because my type of Amex card never declines and I’d already confirmed my credit card information over the phone, with two separate people.

Suspicion mounts… and the plot thickens

I was now extremely suspicious. The technology to process a card at the time an order is submitted already exists, so why were they having such problems? When I submitted a card via their website, they should have attempted to process it and given me an immediate error message if the card declined. When they took the information over the phone, they should have been able to process the order via their own computer immediately. The fact that this didn’t happen meant one of two things: a) they were pretending to have issues with my Amex in an attempt to get me to use a different card (which was both cheaper to process and easier for them  to fight a potential chargeback), or b) they were using an outdated approach of “batch processing” the credit card charges; waiting for a few orders to pile up and then running them all at once. Neither reason is acceptable.

And in any case, the reason didn’t matter. I had already decided just to ignore them.

It’s a Festivus miracle

Then, two days later, on Saturday January 22nd at 2:18 AM, the most amazing thing happened! I received this email:

Somehow, with no further intervention on my part, ZQuiet was magically able to process my credit card!

What I think actually happened was this: when presented with the choice between processing the order with an Amex and risking a chargeback, or not processing the order at all and losing the sale, ZQuiet decided to take their chances with Amex.

Oh, and it didn’t take “8-12 business days” for the ZQuiet to arrive. That shipping email arrived on Saturday, and the ZQuiet arrived on Wednesday (3 business days).

It’s here, so now what?

With all the runaround I had experienced just to get the darn thing to my house, I had zero confidence that it would work. If I weren’t the curious sort, I would have just refused the shipment and returned it unopened. I figured there’s no way a product from a mail-order company that engages in these types of antics could be anything other than total scam.

But here’s the surprising thing…

The bloody thing works.

Seriously – it works exactly as advertised.

Hey, nice package!

My ZQuiet came well packaged, with a thank you letter (including instructions on how to return it if I wasn’t satisfied), a well written instruction booklet (written by someone for whom English was a first language), and an oval storage case (slightly different than the round one on their website).

I followed the instructions and soaked the mouthpiece it in warm tap water for a minute before wearing it, then popped it when when I got sleepy. It felt slightly uncomfortable, but not enough to stop me from sleeping.

The idea is that the mouthpiece pushes your bottom teeth (and therefore your lower jaw with it) forward, opening the airway in the back of your throat and making it less likely that the back of your tongue will vibrate against the back of your throat.

Prima nocta

When I woke up in the morning, my wife was ecstatic: “You didn’t snore for most of the night, and then when you rolled over this morning, the snoring was really light!”

The fit takes some getting used to, and if I roll over and the ZQuiet shifts, I’ll snore a little. But apparently way less than before, and still not enough to keep my smokin’ hot wife from sleeping. So while I can’t verify that it will work for everyone, I can say (with no little amount of pleasant surprise) that it works for me. As of today, I’ve  used it two nights in a row, with good reviews from the lady whose opinion of the product really counts. :)

Pretty soon, you’ll get used to it

The instruction booklet warned that it might take between a few days to a few weeks to get used to the ZQuiet. My jaw and teeth felt… well, weird when I woke up the first morning. They didn’t technically ache or hurt, they just felt like they’ve been held in an unnatural position for most of the night (which is exactly what happened). I suspect (and hope) that after a few more days my jaw will adjust and I won’t feel any discomfort while sleeping or during the following day. I’ll update this review with my results.

The bottom line

So there’s my opinion of the ZQuiet anti-snoring mouthpiece. Their ordering process made me extremely suspicious, to the point where I actually gave up. But they did get the product to me eventually, and it’s impossible to argue with the results. I really did see the ZQuiet as a long shot, and never actually expected it to work for me. But it does. Maybe it will work for you, too. For $9.95, you can find out for “free” if it does.

Got an experience of your own? Please share them in the comments. I’d love to know if I’m the only one who had credit card difficulties, and whether or not the ZQuiet worked for you, too.

UPDATE 3/31/2011

I took my ZQuiet with me to my dentist today, because I wanted to get his feedback. I told him that I sometimes have some minor tooth sensitivity in the mornings when I wear my ZQuiet (which is nightly, unless I’m travelling and therefore sleeping solo). I also asked if one of the dentist-made mouthpieces would also work, and if it might alleviate some of the sensitivity. After looking at the ZQuiet, he said that the dentist made ones work in very much the same way, and that the only difference is that my molding it to my exact bite, the mouthpiece wouldn’t slip around as much as I sleep. He said the sensitivity would still be there with the dentist version, but that it might spread the pressure around to more teeth evenly. I’m still considering it, but for now I’m still happy with my ZQuiet.

UPDATE 4/4/2011

I got an email from ZQuiet today, offering a $20 discount to my “friends and family” (actually, the email just linked to a special page on ZQuiet’s website). It’s not a bad marketing idea – get your customers to do your advertising for you, especially since the only customers who would forward the email to anyone else would likely be a satisfied ones. So, if you’re reading my blog, that makes us friends, and I’ll “forward” the link to you below. :) I don’t know how long this link will work, but for 20 bucks off, it’s worth a shot:

https://www.zquiet.com/friendsfamily/

FYI – users have reported that by using this link, you don’t get to do the $9.95 trial. You have to pay the entire $39.95 plus the $9.95 S&H up front, and then you can return the ZQuiet if it doesn’t work for you, but the $9.95 S&H fees are non-refundable. I still think that beats paying the non-refundable $9.95 S&H up front for the trial, and then paying $59.95 later if it works. Again – I always like using credit cars when I buy stuff online, so your credit card company can help out if you have any disputes.

UPDATE 8/5/2011

I’m still using my ZQuiet, and I’m still happy with the results. My mouth and jaw now seem used to it, as it’s not uncomfortable at all. If I happen to get into bed without it, my wife will run to the my sink in the bathroom (I rinse it every morning and leave it there when I brush my teeth) to grab it for me. :)

UPDATE 11/12/2011

So I’m still a happy ZQuiet user, but had some more news to share. As you can see by reading the comments, the makers of ZQuiet have been aware of my blog for a while (it appears to be a top hit for Google searches about the product). So when ZQuiet chose a Seattle-based company to shoot a new infomercial for the product, and started phoning Seattle-area customers to interview on-camera for testimonials about their product, guess who they called? :) My wife wasn’t crazy about the idea (she’s pretty camera shy), but I thought it would be cool, so I said “yes.” They shot the infomercial at Microsoft Studios and my wife and I got to meet Trina and Dan Webster, the creators of ZQuiet, both of whom were very nice to us and made my wife feel a whole lot more comfortable on-set. We also met some other real ZQuiet users from the area who were also interviewed on camera. I was glad to see that they weren’t hiring fake actors to just pretend to use the product. I told my story of skepticism and pleasant surprise, and I heard similar stories from the other users. None of us were paid – since that would kinda defeat the purpose of having actual users and make it impossible for them to say “These people are not actors and were not paid for their testimonials.” But in the interest of journalistic integrity, I need to come clean: I ate a couple of cookies from the snack tray the production company had on the set. They were Oreos and I couldn’t resist. I hope that doesn’t qualify as “payment” and ruin my objectivity. :) Anyway, I don’t know when the infomercial will air, and I don’t even know if they’ll actually use any of the interview they did with my wife and me (or any of the home video footage that my wife shot of me snoring). But just in case they do, I figured it was best to announce it here on my blog first before it airs, so nobody thinks I got paid to do the interview. I got free cookies, and a chance to meet some very nice people. That’s payment enough. :)

UPDATE 8/6/2012

I figured it was time for another update, since I’ve had a few friends tell me that the updated version of the ZQuiet Infomercial is now showing on late-night TV, and that my wife and I appear in it. I think that’s cool, but the only thing I don’t like about it is that the commercial was filmed almost a year ago, and since then my wife and I have both been eating better and training hard, and we’re a combined 50 lbs lighter than we appear on that commercial. So hey – if anyone from ZQuiet wants to come reshoot our scenes with the skinnier versions of ourselves, that would be awesome. :) I also think it’s funny in the commercial when they compare my snoring to the sound of a chainsaw. My wife will verify that they aren’t making any of that up. I really do snore that loudly.

I actually first learned that the infomercial was on the air when a friend of my teenage son came over to hang out. My son popped his head into my office and said that his friend’s mom (who usually just drops off the friend in our driveway) wanted to talk to me for a second. I thought that was a bit strange, and wondered if maybe the boys were about to be in trouble. :) But when I went to the front door to talk to the mom, she said she just wanted to thank me. She and her husband both snore, and they’d recognized us on the commercial. Like me, she figured it was a total scam at first, but after recognizing us she decided to give it a try because she knew we’re honest people and wouldn’t have done the commercial if it really didn’t work for us (she’s right). She said that they’d both tried their ZQuiets just the night prior, and that it worked for both of them. I was relieved, because that would have been seriously awkward… Of course, there’s no guarantee that a ZQuiet will work for everyone, but I was glad that it worked for a couple we know personally, and who purchased it only because they knew us.

As for me, I’m happy to report that the ZQuiet is still working for me and I use it every night (in fact, my wife made me put an extra one at our cabin, just in case I forget to bring mine with me). Every morning when I take it out of my mouth, I give it a quick rinse and leave it next to the bathroom sink to air dry. Then once or twice a week (after it’s dry) I pop it in a small battery-powered “clam shell” UV light cleaner that’s designed to keep sports mouth-guards clean. It keeps my ZQuiet from getting the funky smell of something that lives in your mouth for 8 hours a night.

As always, please feel free to leave your comments or feedback below!