Can you tell an old mattress from a new one? Unless it’s torn up or filthy, then it’s difficult to. Nobody is mad enough to drag a mattress out of a skip and sell it though, right? We wish this were true—so how do you spot a fake mattress?
What Are Mattress Scams?
Mattress scams come in many forms. Sometimes people take abandoned mattresses out of skips, clean them up and present them as new. This is incredibly unhygienic, not to mention how it’ll be grossly uncomfortable.
Other times people use false materials to craft a mattress—for example, claiming a mattress is “memory foam” when it’s not.
Memory foam mattresses are entirely foam, topped with memory foam with other foams inside. However, these mattresses are still very distinctly memory foam mattresses. Plus if they’re new, they’ll feel and act like it.
Scammers will take non-memory-foam mattresses, often stolen from skips like above. Then they’ll stick a new topper on it—perhaps a very thin, maybe memory foam one—and add a new case. They’ll pass this off as new.
The scammers could be getting these mattresses anywhere, from skips to people who sell cheap, thin innerspring mattresses online.
It seems far-fetched but mattress scams are no joke, and prevalent in the UK. In 2016 The Sun and several other publications reported on fake mattresses packed full of dead skin, urine and other undesirable substances. Some of these mattresses were deemed possibly deadly—so it’s best you learn how to spot a scam now.
How To Spot a Mattress Scam Seller?
Spotting a scam varies from the type of seller to the price of the mattress. Here are some things to look out for:
1. Door-to-Door Sellers
The article above cites door-to-door sellers as the scammers behind deadly mattresses, so that’s where we’ll start.
We all know about door-to-door sellers. Oftentimes they’re outwardly shifty and try to push products on you for inconceivable low prices. They get a bad reputation for this, as sometimes the goods turn out to be subpar, or worse, possibly stolen.
Some door-to-door sellers do nothing but steal your information, pretending they’re signing you up for a service. You can learn more about the disastrous world of door-to-door sellers here.
While sometimes door-to-door sellers are just small businesses trying to get their foot in the door, is it really worth the risk for something as pricey and vital as a mattress?
If you’re buying a mattress, always buy a real, branded mattress online or in-store. That way the only rip-off risk is a pushy salesperson talking you into a pricer mattress than the one you were looking at on display!
And remember, a door-to-door scammer may wear branded clothing, but it’s easy to make your own. That “Dreams” logo is likely a printed shirt bought online.
2. Ridiculously Low Prices
Do you know the old saying “it’s too good to be true”? It’s correct.
If you’re shopping for a mattress somewhere less than official—say a pop-up sale, a website you’ve never heard of, or you’re buying from an unknown brand, you may find incredible bargain prices. It’s a steal!
Yes, it’s a steal. On their end. They’re stealing your money for a subpar product.
Before shopping for a mattress anywhere other than known brand locations and websites, know your facts. Manufacturing costs for mattresses vary widely and there are no specific stats, but it’s a safe bet that it’s a few hundred pounds.
Mattresses are large, packed full of materials which cost less when bought in bulk but it’s still hefty. Then there’s packaging, shipping, paying workers and making a profit.
If a mattress from a shady seller costs £200 it’s probably because it took £100 to make, pack and ship. That’s cheap, and cheap is rarely high-quality.
3. Unknown eBay Sellers
Unknown eBay sellers are often a blend of the two points above. They’re a “legitimate” brand or company, selling things cheap.
It’s just not realistic.
You can find a cheap mattress on eBay, but it’ll be second-hand and from a person, not a business. The description usually isn’t long or detailed, it may even say “selling because we’re moving.”
These unknown eBay business sellers will claim the mattress is new, memory foam, hybrid or some other desirable term. It’s either a repurposed old mattress or it’s cheaply made from inadequate materials—there’s simply no way to justify £40 for a single hybrid mattress (and yes, we’re speaking from experience here).
4. Testing Seller Legitimacy
A fraudster might tell you not to worry about how a mattress was made or will perform. Other times, they’ll squirm and change the subject. Try the following tactics if your seller seems suspicious:
- Ask about how the mattress was constructed.
- Request to see the mattress before purchasing—test it, inspect it, and so on.
- Ask if you can have a guarantee or warranty.
- Consult a search engine to fact-check, right in front of the seller—if they’re legit, the seller won’t object.
How To Spot a Fake Mattress?
Let’s say you fell for a possible scam. On one hand, it could be an incredibly generous person or someone who got the materials from an area with a low cost of living. It could all be legitimate.
On the other hand, it was one of the scenarios above. Let’s see how you can examine your mattress to see if it’s legitimate or not.
1. The Tag
Take a look at the tags on the mattress. They should be sewn into the seams, stating not to remove the tag, and they’ll list the mattress’s materials. They may also tell you the country of origin, brand and seller, and more.
It’s not always a determiner—it’s simple enough to fake a tag—but sometimes scammers won’t think to be so thorough, and do a bad job with the tag.
2. The Thickness
According to many manufacturers and online sources, your mattress should never be less than 8 inches thick. Mattresses need to encompass many materials to add comfort and support to their construction.
Measure the thickness of the mattress. Anything under eight and it might be a scam. In fact, many experts feel that even 8 inches is inadequate
Experts state that double and above mattresses should weigh anywhere from 50–150 pounds. It varies depending on materials and foam density, but if your mattress is obscenely light, it may not be the material it claims to be.
If you want to get fancier with it, find out your mattress size in cubic feet. Several manufacturers state that memory foam specifically should weigh at least three pounds for each cubic foot. If it weighs less it may be worrying.
How To Tell if a Mattress Is High-Quality?
So you know when it’s low-quality. What are the signs of a high-quality mattress? Watch the video below to learn what you should look out for when mattress shopping.
What To Do if You Experience a Mattress Scam?
1. Contact Them
If you got the scammer’s contact details they may be fake. Do your best to get in contact but if you can’t, then you might as well give up on this route.
However, if you did get their contact details then it’s optimal. Tell them you’d like to buy another—or that your friend would, but wants to meet first. The “meeting” is to avoid the seller shipping the mattress over instead.
Instead of a friend, have the police present. If it’s not a scammer then there’s no harm. If it’s a scammer, they’re done for.
2. Ask Around
Let’s say you didn’t get in contact with them. Now you should ask your friends and neighbours, perhaps local Facebook groups and forums, if they’ve had the same experience. One of them may have contact details, or at least they’ll be able to testify if you go to the police.
3. Take Notes
If you suspect you’ve seen, turned down or even been scammed by one of these fraudsters, take notes. Write down everything you know. Write down everything the scammer told you, their appearance, the appearances of any co-workers. If you can describe their van and get the license plate details you’re golden.
You can use this information to warn others and go on to the next piece of advice.
4. Call the Police
Scammers are no joke. Take all the details you have—even if it’s just the scammer’s fake name and company—and go to the police.
The more information and evidence you have the better, but police do not take these scams lightly. They’ll know what to do and hopefully conduct a search or warn people about what’s going on.
You can also report doorstep scammers to Action Fraud who have an article with more information. For those of you in Northern Ireland, you can also report to Action Fraud—but there’s a NI-centric article on scams here.
Mattress scams can happen to anyone and fake mattresses are everywhere. Be sure to report any fraud you encounter. Remember the following to keep safe:
- Don’t buy from door-to-door salesmen.
- If the price seems too good to be true, it IS too good to be true.
- Don’t buy a “new” mattress on eBay.
- Test the seller if you feel something is off.
- Inspect your mattress if you think you’ve been scammed.
If you have any questions or concerns we haven’t covered, be sure to leave a comment.