Bed bug unfriendly mattress re-sellers: recommendations?

by nobugsonme on December 22, 2006 · 19 comments

in bed bugs, consumers, furnishing bedbug-free homes, how to avoid bed bugs, mattresses, tools and weapons

Reader “Hopeless” asks:

What mattress retailers, if any, do not offer 30-day “comfort trials” and do not cart away used mattresses?

Great question, Hopeless. (I hope you’ll soon have cause to change your moniker to something more hope-ful!)

This is something I’ve been wondering myself. Obviously, if you’re buying a new mattress, you want one that absolutely has not spent time in another home, and which has not shared truck space with used mattresses. And remember, it isn’t just about the reseller’s trucking service; many, like Sleepy’s here in NYC, at least sometimes use contractors with their own trucks. We can’t be sure a mattress hasn’t been returned (even in the absence of a “comfort trial,” but we do need to be sure about the absence of a “we cart used furniture in these trucks” policy).

Most of the Bedbuggers I’ve met did not get their bed bugs from used mattresses or furniture. However, as the epidemic spreads, there will be more and more people simply replacing mattresses as a first attempt at treating the problem, though we’re told is often not necessary (and, the way people do it, spreads the problem).

Remember, if you get rid of a mattress, absolutely do not allow a mattress company to cart it away. Get your pest control operator to advise you on how best to treat it, wrap it, and dispose of it to avoid potentially spreading bed bugs both within your home (as you move it towards the door) and in the vicinity (which might include a multi-unit dwelling’s hallways and doorway, or simply the neighborhood you live in).

Do not dispose of a mattress outside without carefully making it unusable: slicing some large holes works, but I’d seek a PCO’s advice– some will even do this for you. Some recommend painting it black, though you never know if this will keep people away. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that simply putting signs on items warning of bed bugs does not keep people away, especially people who are both thrifty and unaware of bed bugs and how bad they can be. (These two factors together can lead lots of folks to take the item in or resell it; if we had better public education about bed bugs, there’d be less of this.)

What do you know about responsible mattress sources: ones that don’t allow 30-day trials and that the especially do not cart away mattresses in the delivery truck (or use contractors who do)?

If you are such a reseller, please tell us and represent yourself honestly. Otherwise, we will eventually find out, and we will not patronise your stores! (Do you hear me, Amish furniture guy?)

1 Anonymous December 22, 2006 at 9:47 am

I presume you mean “if you’re buying a new mattress, you want one that absolutely has not spent time in another home.” 😉

2 Bugalina December 22, 2006 at 10:11 am

Yes..I presume the same..But how are you to know this for certain? In my family we are now sleeping on air mattresses purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond. I made absolutely certain that the boxes they came in had not been opened. I have purchased foam toppers from National Allergy Catalog. I put the foam toppers onto the air mattresses then encase the entire combination into a zippered cover from National Allergy. This is a fairly comfortable sleep device. Last time I purchased a Mattress was for my son in College . It was in Calf. I made the Mattress seller sign a statement that the mattress had never been sold before, making certain it was brand new from the factory. Then my husband and I put it onto the roof of our auto., we took no chances. Sleepy’s in Long Island is still delivering and picking up mattresses in the same trucks. They are aware of the Bed Bug problem because I have TOLD them. I have spoken with two Sleepy’s stores trying to convince them to stop this policy…It fell on dead ears. They are fully aware of bed bug problems as they told me their Policy in Queens is not to pick up and deliver in the same truck…So they tnink the bed bugs only want to live in Queens….it is denial and ignorance that will keep the bed bugs spreading…..bugalina

3 parakeets December 22, 2006 at 11:46 am

The BJ’s I go to now sells all its mattresses sealed in heavy, clear plastic. I think I would only buy a mattress sealed that way (though you don’t know where BJs bought the mattresses from!)

I posted on Yahoo bedbug board how a tenant in my building dragged a relatively new mattress into our storage room that had been standing out by our apartment’s dumpster (mmm, now why might someone be throwing out a new mattress in a building that has a bedbug problem?)

You know how they have rules in most municipalities that you can’t throw a refrigerator or freezer out without removing the door? (So kids don’t climb in them and suffocate). Well, can’t they have rules you can’t throw a mattress out without slicing it up?

4 Bugalina December 22, 2006 at 4:47 pm

Absolutely Parakeets…they should..but they don’t, because they are ignorant. As far as the mattresses in BJ’s being encased in plastic..the problem with that is , they can easiliy be wrapped up over and over again…so that is no guarantee that they are factory new.. The only guarantee is in writing. A signed paper saying that the mattress is factory new….of course the ethics of the signer are IMPORTANT too..bugalina

5 nobugsonme December 22, 2006 at 6:37 pm

Thanks, Anonymous proofreader! My only excuse is that I’m not getting much sleep these days.

Bugalina and Parakeets, I don’t think we can ever be certain a mattress hasn’t been in someone’s home. I don’t think a signed piece of paper is worth much (though a standard policy might be, they’re never going to stop selling things that have been returned. They should count them as floor models, or “open box,” like they would with a computer.)

6 buggedinbrooklyn December 22, 2006 at 7:54 pm

who cares if the mattresses are new or not…if the truck that is delivering them to you has bugs in them, then there is a good chance that there will be bugs on the clear plastic, ready to say hello to THIER new home.


7 Bugalina December 22, 2006 at 9:15 pm

buggedinbrooklyn you are right…that’ s why I took the mattress on my car…What about the deliverymen, if they pick up an infested mattress they could carry the bugs in on their bodies. They assemble beds in peoples homes, they walk all thru the house and into the bedroom. Its all a big mess because no one wants to confront these problems, they’d rather let people get bedbugs..

8 hopeless December 22, 2006 at 10:14 pm

Hey, I just spoke to a salesperson at Macy’s and he said:

* a customer who returns a mattress during their 30-day comfort trial pays a disposal fee and a restocking fee and that used mattress is taken to a warehouse where it, he admits, may be resold “as is” (without any cleaning or treating), but is clearly labelled as a used mattress or floor sample and will never be sold to a consumer as a new mattress; he says Macy’s beds are factory-ordered and so take about two weeks for delivery (as opposed to those other same-day-delivery companies)

* they do not cart away used mattresses for the customer after setting up the new mattress at home–he assured me that this is their policy and that, at most, they may take the used mattress to the curb at the customer’s request but do not put it in the truck–he said that doing so would expose them to so much liability that they cannot risk their reputations yadda yadda (actually, a very nice guy)

Obvious follow-up question that I didn’t ask: when a mattress is returned by a customer during the 30-day trial, do they keep a fleet of segregated trucks for that purpose? I was tired–I was only there browsing because I had to kill 2 or 3 hours during my latest treatment–so, yeah, no investigative journalism skills here, that’s for sure. But I have his card and will call him.

This is a salesperson. I will also try their corporate offices to get a written policy. It makes sense if big department stores have policies to protect them from suits. It’s also good, for me, that Macy’s has a bed for every budget. I am not going to call Swedish custom-made bed purveyors or any other companies that cater to the very wealthy. It’s distressing that bedbugs have made me jealous and resentful. I don’t want to be this way! I long to be free…

9 hopeless December 22, 2006 at 10:19 pm

Forgot to thank Bugalina for the foam topper idea.

10 nobugsonme December 22, 2006 at 11:35 pm

Hi Bugged,

Absolutely! That’s why the policy of carting used furniture and mattresses away, which so many full-service stores offer as a special “bonus,” is spreading bed bugs.

It’s also why the move to make reselling mattresses illegal is such a limited attempt at stopping this epidemic.

Frankly, moving truck rental companies, as well as delivery truck services, are going to have to take drastic action ASAP to stop spreading bed bugs.

Moving services and Rental trucks are probably a huge conduit for bed bugs right now: think how many people with bed bugs move (some even unaware); they load their stuff on the truck for a few hours or a few days, they get in the truck themselves, they move their stuff, and a few hours later, the process is repeated. So people who move with bed bugs are spreading them to those who move without them. Mover’s blankets and trucks should be treated between uses.

11 nobugsonme December 23, 2006 at 12:01 am

Hopeless– my last comment was sitting on my screen, and I hit post and then found yours. Many thanks for the info on Macy’s. I hope others — especially those in the market — will call local or nationwide mattress sellers and let us know what they find.

Incidentally, what made you decide to toss the mattress? (I realize that might sound almost comical to some, as this is a site about bed bug infestations… but I ask since we’re often encouraged to treat and cover rather than toss them. As creepy as the idea can be…)

Thanks again!

12 nobugsonme December 23, 2006 at 12:03 am

Oh, and I should add: as soon as we have a few more bits of information on mattress companies, we’ll put up a FAQ about new mattresses.

13 hopeless December 23, 2006 at 12:56 am

Weakness! Of course, like usual with me.

When this whole thing started for me, I got very sick and was trying to self-treat and that was making me sicker, and I physically couldn’t lift the mattress and box spring all the way to cover them. I mean, I tried, but did a bad job–the box spring especially was not fully covered. And I was alone and desperate. So I asked the super to help me throw them out. I fully disclosed why and explained the safety precautions I had planned for both of us, and so he did. I had plastic sheeting and duct tape and I sealed them up and we took them outside. It never occurred to me to ask him to help me properly cover them instead, because the first thing I saw when he helped me put the mattress upright was a big, round hole in the vinyl encasements. When I remember this hole I have a vision of a mass of bedbugs converging on the spot to plan and execute their escape.

I had a nice firm bed and I never thought I’d miss it this much.

14 nobugsonme December 23, 2006 at 2:26 am

Yikes!!! See, this is exactly why so many people _do_ toss the things. You can say its safer for everyone else to hold on to them, but the covers are not as secure as people would like to think. On the best covers (and I have a nice one from National Allergy that’s vinyl inside and cloth outside), there’s the question of that wee spot where the zipper is, and how no tape is ever permanently going to stick over it. With the cheaper vinyl ones, there’s the rip factor: very rippable. I have a cat and I fear he will poke holes in my GOOD cover.

This is all not as much of a deal if you’re dealing with a new mattress and no bed bugs, but it’s a huge worry if you follow the standard advice to encase, and let them die a slow death.

(By the way, I had a cover on my bed before all this started. When I inspected, I saw nothing, but removed and replaced the cover anyway. I wish I could throw out the old, rickety, crevice-y building I live in and keep my mattress.)

15 Bugalina December 23, 2006 at 8:31 am

hopeless..I find that the air mattress…filled to capacity and then with a foam topper is a very comfortable sleep..and it is firm..for now I think any mattress purchase is not a good idea…if one can avoid it. You are correct about your question to the Macy’s person. What kind of truck do they use to pick up a mattress with? Is it isolated? Unfortunately we are living in a world with lousy ethics. Lousy ethics, coupled with ignorance and greed are not going to get us solutions to kill bed bugs anytime soon. I think a bed bug march might get some attention…I cannot believe Macy’s is still selling used mattresses..even if there is disclosure. There have been several people on Caitlins blog that got bed bugs from buying mattresses from warehouses.. a woman in Colorado was one of those people. We are surrounded by more ignorance regarding bed bugs than they were back in the turn of the century. At least then they could take the infested mattresses outside and burn them..Now we are having them RESOLD!!

16 Tricia April 11, 2008 at 7:12 am

I just went through something similiar with a Sleepy’s mattress. They gave me 21 days to try the mattress, if I did not like it or was not comfortable with it I could return it for a fee of $250.00 and they will take the mattress from my house, take it and burn it. Well when they came to get the mattress, and deliver the new one, they found that the one they were to take from me had markings on the bottom of mattress. Well I went throught this whole thing that they were not going to take the mattress I did not want anymore and were NOT going to give me the new one. Well if they were going to burn the mattress why did they give me such a hard time about taking it back? While I was on the phone with the Sleepy’s people, I told the men in the truck NOT to leave and they did anyway. Only to have to come back and take the old mattress and give me my new one!! Well now I get my new mattress from them and the boxspring has a big black mark on it and the whole one side of the mattress was filthy dirty because when the put it back on the truck they put the side down that was exposed from them opening it in the first place~~~~so now I get a mattress with markings on it and is dirty~~~and I am NOT finished with them yet.

17 nobugsonme April 11, 2008 at 11:10 pm

If a clean mattress came into your house the first time, and then when they came to collect it, it had black markings, there is a chance you have bed bugs. You should ensure that is not the case.

18 squiggle December 27, 2009 at 1:09 am

I’m almost positive I got bedbugs when I bought a new mattress from IKEA. I presume it was from their delivery sub-contractor’s truck, or perhaps my ‘new’ mattress was a return from a trial.

19 nobugsonme December 27, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Furniture companies should not utilize delivery trucks which are also used for moving or for removing used furniture including mattresses.

They also should be extremely cautious with how they treat returned items. These can infest other stock as well as the next person to purchase them.

I don’t know IKEA’s policies on deliveries or returns.

It’s sadly possible to pick up bed bugs anywhere. Sorry you have them.

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