What happens to returned mail-order mattresses?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/21/what-happens-to-returned-mail.html


I’m glad that they’re able to find use for something that would otherwise go to waste but i would never order a mattress that i didn’t check out in person.


First of all, let me just say … eew. Secondly, I sleep on one of those mail order mattresses that I bought (new, I hope) from Amazon for very little money, and it’s actually pretty comfortable. Normally I would never buy something like that without trying it out, but it was so cheap I thought it might be worth the gamble. But I digress. Again … eew.


It’s nowhere near as skanky as sleeping on a hotel bed.


So that’s why they call it “memory foam”…


We desperately needed a new mattress and I hemmed and hawed over various online options. I finally pulled the trigger on a Casper Hybrid last November and it’s been phenomenal. I relied on a metric ton of youtube reviews and found they were all quite honest and accurate with their commentary…though none ever really bashed or said “avoid [[insert mattress brand here]] at all costs”.

I had the same skepticism as you, but found my fears were for naught.


Used mattresses are illegal to sell in Massachusetts. Must true in other states too.


ICBW but my understanding is that some of these mattress shippers will also allow you to donate the mattress to a community service donation organization, like Goodwill or Salvation Army, in their name. They require the receipt as proof that you don’t have the mattress, and they get the tax write-off of the donation.


I mean that’s why they have a generous return policy. Frankly, trying out mattresses in a showroom sucks. Such joy to be found testing out a bare mattress in your jeans and shoes while a salesperson hovers around giving you side-eye.


I think this is true in many places but I don’t know if it applies to neighbors selling things on craigslist or nextdoor. Now this arrangement in the article, it should legally be considered the same as a retail reseller, but it probably just looks like a normal craigslist ad and doesn’t get much scrutiny.

On our nextdoor we do get people buying and selling matresses, often times people looking to buy them are claiming financial hardship (just got out of a bad situation, etc.)

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It might vary by state but our Goodwill won’t take mattresses.



Section 271A. Notwithstanding any general or special law or rule or regulation to the contrary, a mattress, box spring, studio couch or futon mattress which has been delivered to and used by a customer and which is later returned to the seller thereof shall be clearly and conspicuously marked thereon and advertised by the seller before any further sale with a tag stating the following: ‘‘This mattress, box spring, studio couch or futon mattress has been previously sold, delivered, used and returned and is being offered for resale.’’



Mattresses don’t really fit in Goodwill’s business model. Goodwill doesn’t want to pass on your donations, they want to sell them and use that money for charity. Being bulky, mattresses are hard to store, transport and sell. A returned mattress from someone like Casper would more likely go to somewhere where there is an immediate need for beds like a homeless shelter or women’s home.

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The Goodwills in our area are extremely picky about what they accept. It’s actually becoming difficult to donate things because you never know what they are going to reject based on some arbitrary determination from the volunteer manning the drop-off lane that day.

I realize some people treat them like a free disposal service and try to pawn off their trash but it’s really a turn off to me to pull in wondering what rules are in place for that particular day - no electronics, no “torn” furniture (a little slash at the bottom of a very expensive leather recliner and it was rejected),nothing missing any parts no matter how minor, no unframed artwork, etc. Definitely no mattresses, pillows or bedding.

In contrast, DAV, Salvation Army, ARC are always happy to take almost anything and gratefully accept items that aren’t “perfect” for resale.

Not trying to come across as all magnanimous or anything but there really are few options for someone trying to pass along perfectly functional consumer goods to someone who could use them while also keeping them out of landfills. It’s made me much more conscious about what I choose to bring into my home now. It’s a testament to our current throw-away culture.


When I have to travel, I take a sleeping bag, my own pillows, and a sheet to cover the bed. I stay home a lot …



Well knowing that if i didn’t like something and it ended up in a landfill is reason enough for me to not do so. But i can get a pretty good idea on comfort of a mattress by checking it out in person, i got mine from Ikea and it’s great :slight_smile:

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Our charity shops (Goodwill, SallyAnn, Savers, etc.) are very selective about what they take as well. They will take things like bedding, as long as it comes in clean and can be laundered, but furniture is generally rejected. Some of it is because of space constraints, but a lot is because someone has a bee in their bonnet that day. Also, trash; anyone who lets it be known that they accept donations in our area is often inundated with borderline usable to dumpster fodder. The local SA had to put up a fence to prevent dumping when they were closed; people either can’t be bothered to take it to the dump themselves or have talked themselves in to believing ‘good enough for donating’.

Considering the business model of a lot of the larger charity organizations and what they do with donations, it’s a tradeoff between donations of unwanted rubbish and them cherrypicking the good stuff and diverting it to ebay

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I have also been trying to seriously consider the end life of things before I buy them (ugh toys, unrecyclable toys!)
There are “Buy Nothing” groups popping up designed to help people trade things instead of buy them, I’d like to start one but they’re Facebook based now (supposedly there is an app coming soon that will eliminate the need for a Facebook account).


Do you have a FreeCycle group in your area? I occasionally post things I can’t really sell but are still useful on ours.