If you are considering purchasing a mattress, please take time to understand exactly what you are purchasing as well as who you are purchasing it from.

Many mattress postings on internet classified ad sites are not what they appear.

Remarkably, Washington State has some of the most lax used bedding laws in the country. These laws are regularly being exploited at the expense of the consumer. Mattress manufactures typically offer warranties to their customers. In cases where the mattress has failed (typically a body impression), the customer is allowed to return their mattress to the retailer where they purchased it for a credit towards a replacement. It is then picked up by the manufacturer and brought back to the plant for inspection. All of the major manufacturers inspect these beds to determine the cause of the failure. Once they have been inspected, the manufacturers fill empty shipping trailers with these sleep sets and “auction” them to the highest bidder. In some cases, out of state retailers who are prohibited from re-selling their customer “comfort returns” in their own state are shipping them into Washington to be liquidated. Typically, all of these mattresses are bought for pennies on the dollar due to the fact that they are in fact USED BEDDING and worthless to reputable furniture and mattress stores who ONLY PURCHASE NEW BEDDING with full factory warranties.

As a consumer beware of the following practices.

*Offering a warranty on anything other than a new mattress: In nearly every case, you are offered an “in-store” warranty that is worthless should the retailer decide to shut their doors. Typically this “in-store” warranty is limited to replacement with another used bed, should the first one fail.

*Presenting their used mattresses as factory “Demos, Floor Samples, Seconds, Overstocks, etc”. The fact is that over 90% of the “not new” mattresses are in fact, customer returns that have been slept on an indefinite period of time from a few weeks to a few years or more! Mattress manufacturers “just in time”  are producers who do not stock mattresses for their retailers. Instead, they build mattresses to order. A typical mattress factory is capable of producing well over 1000 pieces a day on an as needed basis. Factories produce very few samples for their market showrooms during the course of a year. This small number of samples could barely supply one store, let alone dozens.

*Stating that their mattresses are, in fact, department store floor samples.   Every major nationwide retailer (Sears, Macy’s, etc.) maintains outlet stores where their samples and customer returned products are clearly labeled and sold as such. If you see a store name in the label, that mattress is likely to be a product that has been slept on and returned for any number of reasons to the manufacturer, typically some type of product failure.


Some things to look for:

  1. Piles of mattresses laying flat in a shipping area.  This technique is used to flatten body impressions out of mattresses that have been slept on. The higher the stack, the more pressure on the bottom mattress.
  2. Look closely at the law label at the head of the bed.  Manufacturers will remove or deface the tag in the case of mattress being anything other than new. The tag will also give you a date of production. Any mattress that has a production date of anything older than 4-6 months prior is a suspect. Also look at the city of production; Simmons mattresses are made in Sumner, WA. Serta is made in Puyallup, WA and Sealy is made in Portland, Or. If your tag has a location of anywhere other than these locations, it is most certainly a used mattress being dumped into Washington from out of state retailers.
  3. Search the store’s phone number on Craigslist.  In many cases they’ll take whatever they can get for the product and may in fact be offering it for less online than in the store. Remember, they’re typically paying less than $150 a set for this used product.
  4. Stories that don’t add up.  Come back on a different day with a different salesperson and see what story you are told about the same mattress… you’ll be amazed at the variety of things that you’ll hear.
  5. Smell the mattress.  New mattresses have a smell similar to a new car or carpeting. If you smell anything like perfume or febreze, ask if they’ve sprayed anything on the mattress. New mattresses do not require odor control.
  6. They emphasize the fact that they are selling floor samples.  Seconds and blemished product without ever mentioning customer returns which represent the majority of the mattresses that they sell.

Some things to ask:

  1. Do you sell any used mattresses?
    This should be a simple yes or no answer. Reputable retailers will have their mattresses labeled as a comfort return or floor sample if you are not purchasing a new mattress in the original factory packaging.
  2. Do you sell any mattresses that have been sold by other companies and returned to the factory?
    If the answer to #2 is yes: Are your Factory Seconds sanitized prior to being brought into your warehouse?
    Remember, Washington State does not require these mattresses to be sanitized OR inspected for bugs.
  3. If I go to the manufacturers website, are you listed as one of their retailers?
    Sealy, Simmons and Serta all list their retailers on their website. If the store isn’t listed, it means that they are not selling new mattresses. The goal of this information piece is not to disparage any particular mattress liquidator, but rather to empower you as the consumer to ask the right questions and get exactly what you pay for!