With retailers closed due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, we are advising people to be wary of rogue traders – in particularly those selling mattresses.

Mattress scams

White van man scams have been going on for a number of years but chances are you may find them in your area more since shops closed, spinning a tale that a mattress order has been cancelled due to the coronavirus and the factory can’t take them back. This may seem plausible and tempting especially when they offer a ‘good deal’ to take a mattress of their hands.

The chances are a double size mattress on offer was manufactured for around £50 so if you pay the bargain price of £150 for it, they are still making a tidy profit. At best it will contain a new, very basic spring unit with a polyester fibre pad or a layer of cheap foam over it, all covered in a cheap outer covering material. At worst, the mattress may contain an old, used spring unit along with dirty fillings. Some of the worst cases we’ve come across is where the rogue trader has simply placed an old mattress inside a brand-new cover and passed off the product as new!

How to spot a fake mattress

So how can you be sure you’re getting a genuine mattress from the back of a van? Honest answer – you can’t. The only way to truly know is to buy from an established retailer – whether instore or online – who have genuine contracts with bed manufacturers. You can find more out here.

You see, these scams are extremely convincing. Dodgy dealers are often driving a white or silver van with a company name sign written on it and wearing a company polo shirt. Some even have company names that are very similar to well-known mattress brands or bed retailers. They may provide you with a written receipt and give you their business card – all fake – but look credible. You will probably find that the phone numbers provided ring out when you try calling them. A reputable trader would never try to sell door-to-door or from the back of a van.

You probably would find it hard to tell the difference between a good and bad mattress. You can look at the stitching around the sides as a starter but unfortunately you don’t cut a mattress up to see what’s inside, so most people are unaware of shoddy, old or dirty fillings. You have no way of telling what you are buying is what the person claims.

It almost certainly hasn’t undergone testing to see whether it meets the UK mattress flammability regulations. Fake flammability labels may be used but equally while it may display the small blue, white and black label with an image of a cigarette and flame on it, it’s worth noting it is easy to buy the labels to fix to the mattress.

Always look for the NBF Approved label for added reassurance. All of our members are independently audited to ensure they meet all the requirements for hygiene, safety (including flammability) and trade descriptions and can use this label on their products. The NBF also carries out random testing of member products to ensure compliance.

Remember, if a price seems too good to be true, chances are it generally is.

If you have been approached by a man in a van selling mattresses, politely decline and try to take note of any details – company name, a phone number and a registration plate number – and then report to Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service on 0345 4040 506

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