3OYS warning: Investigation reveals your 'new' mattress may be used

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

MESA, Ariz -- Several times this year, 3 On Your Side has exposed a dirty little secret regarding mattresses.

The problem usually starts when your new mattress breaks down rather quickly or maybe has bed bugs. As you're about to find out, your new mattress may not be new at all.

It's not really the place you would expect to find mattresses being made, but that's exactly what was going on at a self-storage facility located in Mesa.

"So, are these used mattresses?" Gary Harper asked Javier Morales, who was working at the facility.

"Yeah, well, these are mattresses we sell rebuilt," he replied.

By simply plugging in some generators, this mother-and-son team has been making "rebuilt mattresses" for six years.
"So, where do you guys get the mattresses from?” Harper asked.

"We get them here locally from the Goodwill, from those kinds of people. We don't pick them up from the streets, though," Morales said.

But in the streets and on the curb is exactly where you'll find old, dirty mattresses.

For months, our investigative team drove around the Valley, and we saw men picking up mattresses off the street and hauling them away. We found used mattresses in alleys, on sidewalks and behind stores. We even saw used mattresses being driven around in the rain.

You’ll find the mattresses being sold at deeply discounted prices all around the Phoenix area, but what's inside is what you have to look out for.

Allison Kiefer described what she found when she bought a mattress: "The mattresses inside my new mattresses were actually refurbished old mattresses complete with bed bugs."

Sharif Allam was also shocked by what his discovered after he got his mattress home: “These were a bunch of bites.”

In several previous reports, 3 On Your Side exposed mattresses infested with bed bugs were actually used mattresses that were "rebuilt" and wrapped with clean fabric only to be sold as new.

LaChella Boson was also shocked after cutting open her mattress: “Oh my goodness, that is crazy!”
Consumers are not happy at all about being duped.

Sharif added, “Look, I got bit by bugs, by creatures, and then I look here, there are bugs are crawling all over it.”

Some become so outraged they take their mattresses back and demand a refund.

One woman we found selling used mattresses as new had nothing to say to 3 On Your Side when we confronted her.

“The mattress is a trick. It's a trick that you guys pull on people like her. They’re used mattresses; they’re not new. It’s a big farce!" Harper said.

And that's what brought us to this storage facility where we found Morales and his mom busy at work.

Morales says he doesn't believe he's misleading people because he claims he staples on an orange tag clearly indicating it’s a rebuilt mattress, but we didn’t see any mattresses with an orange tag.

"So in your eyes, what you’re doing here is perfectly legit? It’s legal? You’re not doing anything wrong? Harper asked.

"No," Morales said.

He claims he can put that "new material" tag on because well, it is new material.

So, who polices the mattress industry? Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne says there are stiff penalties for selling used mattresses as new.

"It has to be tagged to show if it's new or used. It's a class two misdemeanor, so theoretically, you can do jail time for it," he said.
However, the practice of rebuilding or rewrapping old mattresses continues, and Morales says he has no intention of stopping.

"There's cops come by here every day and they see what we do, and I mean, they don't see anything wrong with it," Morales said.

Remember, don't be fooled just because your mattress is wrapped in plastic. Experts advise try shopping at reputable stores that have been in business for a while.