IS IT NEW OR USED?
A mattress can be a major investment, and shopping for it may present pitfalls for the unwary consumer. Not only is price comparison difficult because of style labeling differences within the same brand from one store to another, but in some instances you may also be looking at used bedding that appears to be new.
Although federal law does require any mattress that contains used stuffing to bear a tag or label saying so, Georgia law imposes no requirements for labeling or sanitizing a mattress that has been used before it is resold. This is true whether the seller is an individual, a second-hand store or a retailer. So let the buyer beware!
A new mattress will usually have a white tag or label stating that it contains “all new materials, consisting of…” If you don’t see a tag, you might want to consider shopping at another store where it is clear what you are really buying. Although some mattresses are returned without actually having been slept on, and retailers often have a procedure for the manufacturer to buy back a returned mattress, it is estimated that up to ten percent of mattress sales involve used or renovated bedding, some of which may appear to be in pristine condition.
However, bedding that has been used presents a potential health hazard that should be weighed against any possible economic advantages of buying a recycled mattress. It could harbor bacteria, mold, fungi, blood, other bodily fluids, hair, skin, pollen, dust mites, or allergenic residues from pets and insects.
While selling a mattress that is less than new does not in itself violate state law, this would be a violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act if the bedding were specifically represented by the seller as being new—rather than being sold “as is,” with no such claim. You can report misrepresentation of this nature to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help in building a record concerning the sales practices of the business in question.
Mattress Shopping Tips from the FTC
- Shop around. Mattress prices and quality vary greatly.
- Ask if the retailer sells used bedding. If so, and you want a new mattress, make sure your mattress has a "new" mattress tag.
- Make sure you look at the tag on the actual mattress you're buying, either before you leave the store or before the delivery person leaves your house. Don't let the heavy plastic wrapping stop you from looking for-and at -the tag.
- Ask the retailer to write "new" on your sales receipt if you've been told you're buying a new mattress. If it turns out that the mattress is used, you'll have stronger recourse.
- Avoid retailers with mattresses that don't carry tags. You simply don't know what you're getting, regardless of what the salesperson claims. It's what's in writing that counts.
- Ask about the retailer's return and refund policies, and get copies in writing.