Don’t fall foul of rogue traders when buying beds online or from the back of a van is our message this Fraud Awareness Week (17 -23 November).
While the vast majority of UK bed manufacturers produce safe, compliant and “as described” products, there are dodgy dealers who try to pass off inferior products as ‘luxury’ items, or worse – unsafe and unhygienic mattresses.
From fake flammability labels to used, dirty mattresses stuffed into a new cover, rogue traders will stop at nothing to make a quick buck. A popular trick by a ‘back of a van’ trader is to claim they have an unsold mattress that they will sell for a fraction of the usual price.
The general advice is if an offer is too good to be true – it usually is.
A reputable trader would never try to sell door-to-door or from the back of a van, so we’d always advise people not to buy a mattress this way.
When it comes to buying online there are many advantages such as convenience and speed, but there are some things you should be wary of.
Most alarming is the increasing number of rogue traders offering what appear to be heavily discounted mattresses – often claiming to use high spring counts and deep layers of filling when in fact, they are manufactured with cheaper materials without undergoing any necessary testing.
At worst, these products may be unsafe or unhygienic, and at best, they are probably only just worth what you pay for them – so it’s wise to steer clear of these so-called ‘deals’.
Look for a Fire Safety label too that indicates that the mattress meets British fire safety standards. Since 1988, all soft furnishings have to be treated with fire-retardant chemicals and carry a label to prove it. This means your bed won’t easily set on fire if an open flame – such as a match or cigarette – is dropped onto it.
Awareness is important for helping people not to become a victim of the fraud, so we’ve put together some top tips for avoiding the scammers:
- Never buy from the back of a van. You have no way of telling what you are buying is what the person claims.
- Always look for the NBF Approved label – all NBF members are independently audited to ensure they meet all the requirements for hygiene, safety (including flammability) and trade descriptions. The NBF also carries out random testing of member products to ensure compliance.
- Be wary of discounts offering 70% to 80% off recommended sales price.
- If buying online, check the company has a registered office, showroom address. Also check whether it has a UK dialing code, 0800 or 0345 phone number. Be cautious if it’s a mobile number or starts with 0203 (these may be perfectly legitimate numbers, but it’s advisable to carry out other checks as well).
- Don’t rely on reviews posted on their own site – look for independent reviews.
At the NBF we champion good practice and high standards in the UK bed industry because we know everyone wants to have a great night’s sleep with total piece of mind. Make sure you look for the NBF Approved logo on mattresses to ensure that the product you’re buying is safe, clean and honest.