Business

What actually happens to all those returned trial mattresses?

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Many bed-in-a-box companies offer months-long trials but what happens to the mattresses that are sent back?

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You order a mattress online, it gets delivered to your door, and if you don’t like it, most of the distributors will refund it and collect the mattress free of charge.   

The model assumes that most customers will fall in love with their mattress and never want to part with it. But 33-year-old Jake* saw it another way -- perpetual free rental.

Jake had been living overseas before he moved back to Sydney in late 2017.

“The plan was to live in Sydney short term, so I didn’t want to throw money into a mattress I might not need, so I thought, ‘I’ll just take advantage of those mattress trial’,” Jake told The Feed.

He decided to see how many trials he could cycle through. First, he went with Ecosa. When the advertised 120-day trial was up, he asked for a refund, his mattress got taken away and he got his money back.

He just had to make sure another trial bed-in-a-box was already on its way.

“It had to be synced up otherwise I would have no mattress for the night.”

Jake went through this process again. And again. It was when he got talking to a courier removing his trial bedding that he started to feel a bit uneasy about his scheme.

“A third party courier service came for the Koala [mattress] and it was so weird because the courier company said that they just take it to a warehouse. He told me he picks up, ‘more than you’d think’.”

While most brands claim that returned trial mattresses will “likely go to charity”, some companies like Koala mattresses, have no information on where they end up.

“Part of the reason I kicked off the scheme is because the first brand made a big thing of giving their return mattresses to charity,” Jake said.

“Had I known that they weren't all going to charity I probably wouldn’t have gone through with it.”

Where do the mattresses actually go?

The Feed contacted three of the most popular bed-in-a-box providers - Koala mattresses, Ecosa and Eva mattresses - to find out what the industry consensus is when it comes to returned mattresses.

All three state on their websites that they never resell trialled mattresses.

“All returned mattresses are sent to our charity partners. The charities we support include The Salvation Army, Vinnies, Lifeline Australia, Anonymous X,” Ecosa director Ringo Chan confirmed to The Feed.

“In rural areas, we work with the customer to coordinate a collection from a charity. We have even booked an Airtasker to collect a returned mattress and pass it on to the chosen charity.”

Ecosa has donated approximately 3,500 trial mattresses to their charity partners.

“We actually had a wonderful email recently from someone who had purchased one of our mattresses from an op shop in New South Wales,” Chan said.

“She had been left with debilitating spinal injuries as a result of past trauma, and actually reached out to thank us for our donations to the charity, as it allowed her to improve her sleep with a mattress that she would otherwise have been unable to afford.”

When donation is not possible, both Ecosa and Eva use Soft Landing to recycle mattresses.

Eva confirmed to The Feed that in the rare case that a customer does return a mattress (Eva gets about five returns a month) the first port of call is the Salvation Army.

Koala Mattresses had two different answers. When going through their Live Chat customer service, The Feed was told that trial mattresses are returned to the supplier, broken down and used to make products like, “carpet underlay, roofing material and gymnastic mat foam inserts.”

Speaking with their head of marketing,The Feed were assured all mattresses are donated to charities like Generous and Grateful as well as supplying, in individual cases, to families and women.

When asked about the different responses, Koala claimed that both options are possible.

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