Old mattresses given out as charity: will cause more harm than good

by nobugsonme on August 2, 2007 · 7 comments

in alberta, bad ideas, bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, canada, edmonton, mattresses, spread of bed bugs

I thought it was bad that companies were carting away used mattresses alongside new ones in their delivery trucks. But some mattress sellers go even further in their attempts to spread bed bugs.

A Canadian mattress store called Sleep Country has a program of “charity” for those in need. When a person buys a new mattress and returns their old one, the used mattress is given away to a person in need. The Edmonton Sun recently ran a story detailing one woman’s story: as the recipient of this charity, she had to have her home treated repeatedly for bed bugs.

Prospective mattress recipients are supposed to inspect the mattress and determine its safety. This woman’s mattress actually had black streaks on it and she did not know about bed bugs. However, it should be stated that even without obvious signs, a mattress with small tears or gaps can harbor bed bugs.

For its part, Sleep Country says it has had few complaints about the donation program, which provided 40,000 people with beds last year.

Dean Ritchey, the company’s vice president of operations for Western Canada, said it’s up to the person taking the bed to inspect it.

“We let the consumer determine if it’s a product they’re comfortable with,” he said.

Sleep Country is being seriously negligent if they expect people to know the signs of bed bugs. This is a really bad idea, and the practice of giving out used mattresses should be stopped at once. The bed bug epidemic is serious, and Edmonton has had many outbreaks. People on low-incomes do not benefit from a bout with bed bugs.

1 Bugalina August 2, 2007 at 10:53 am

Where is the government on this one…This practice must be stopped immediately…How incredibly immoral this is….Of course we all know that the intentions are good, but now with a bed bug crisis going on….Something that was meant to be a benevolent act is now an evil act…Please Canadians..speak UP !!

2 James Buggles August 2, 2007 at 11:53 am

Shut down this misguided program. True charity involves spending money to buy those in need new items.

3 Winston O. Buggy August 3, 2007 at 8:06 am

No good deed goes unpunished!

4 nobugsonme August 6, 2007 at 2:22 am

Some GOOD news on the charity mattress front:

A Canadian journalist, Janice Wells of the Chronicle Herald,
here bemoans the fact that the St. John’s (Newfoundland) Salvation Army will not accept used mattresses, of any condition, from anyone. Period.

The Maritimes, of course, are no stranger to Cimex L. And yet this reporter thinks the policy is misguided. She says,

Of course, a clean-looking mattress could have fleas or bedbugs, as happened last year in a number of American hotels, and maybe the Army is once bitten, twice shy, if you’ll pardon the pun.

The very idea of even appearing to criticize the Salvation Army makes me feel like I’m going to be struck down and if anyone has sued the Salvation Army over a mattress, the world is definitely bottom up, which it is, of course. So we can’t assume it’s just an overly cautious policy.

Actually, I doubt it’s just about whether their customers will sue. The SA is right that reselling mattresses is a bad idea now that bed bugs are back. Good for them and I hope other “charities” catch up and get with the fact that bed bugs are more than a pain in the butt for anyone unfortunate enough to save a few bucks and get an infested mattress.

5 Bugalina August 6, 2007 at 10:00 am

Ms. Wells, It is YOU who is misguided. This is not about sueing, this is about protecting people, their families and their children. Nobugs is right…being “charitable” means NOT spreading bed bugs to those who can least afford the price of extermination, the loss of homegoods and peace of mind. I pray that all others will follow this sage decision. AND Ms. Wells…excuse me..but Canada has just as big an outbreak of Bed Bugs as does the US….for a journalist you are not up on the “news”….just google bed bugs in Vancouver…Toronto…Montreal…etc….You will find that Canada is infested…and its getting worse…

6 Rick Makiol October 23, 2009 at 2:38 am

Typical comments from your typical do-gooders. 40,000.00 mattresses is a lot charity.
We would be talking inexcess of $1.2 million for new mattresses.
Go to any 3 to 6 star motel and you will find bugs so what.
These charties do a thankless costly job that help those less fortunate.
Open your wallets or shut your mouth.

7 nobugsonme October 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm


Yours is a “typical comment from your typical” person who never encountered bed bugs. You apparently have no personal experience of Mr. Cimex Lectularius.

If you did, you would realize that gifting someone of limited resources with a bed bug infestation is a horrific thing to do. You may save them a few hundred dollars and cost them many hundreds more, in addition to many months of suffering.

Many people — and dare I say it, especially people of limited means — do not get proper bed bug treatment, and in such cases, you may be condemning the used mattress recipient to years of misery.

Have a nice day!

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