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    Buying a used mattress at auction

    “I could’ve bought a mattress here,” I said jokingly to my auction buddy Janet as I eyed two mattresses – a king and a twin – propped against a wall in the furniture section of the auction house.

    She picked up on the joke, reminding me of the bedbugs that I’d probably find in any mattress I bought there. That’s not all I was likely to find: dust mites, mold, bacteria and other people’s body fluids.


    Mattresses were on my mind because I had bought a new mattress set a few days before – for a lot more than I would’ve paid at the auction house. My old mattress was starting to sag in the center, so I knew it was time to buy new.

    Before I went shopping, I visited the web to see what I should look for in a new mattress. I was schooled in the types of materials used, how much I should pay, how I should choose the right mattress and more. The sites warned that it was hard to compare mattress prices because manufacturers renamed models by store. I had already decided where I wanted to buy; I just needed to find the right fit.

    I knew where I was not going: to one of those storefront mattress companies that scream their savings. I went to one about six or so years ago, and the salesman basically lied to me about the cost. I didn’t realize he had lied until I got home with the estimate. So this time I was going to a reputable department store.

    I spent about 45 minutes to an hour in the mattress department, moving from one mattress to another. There were so many choices, and I kept checking the same ones several times. The saleswoman basically left me alone to wander and try them out. Consumer Reports, according to several sites, said one should expect to pay at least $800 for a good queen mattress.

    It never occurred to me to consider buying a used mattress at auction. The thought of sleeping on a stranger’s old bed makes my skin crawl. But now that I think of it, isn’t that what we do at hotels? We never know who slept on the mattress before we checked in. But I’m not going there.

    I’m not sure how much those two mattresses sold for at the auction house, but I’m pretty certain that they were purchased. Very little goes unsold.

    After I got home from the auction, I decided to do some more Google research, this time on buying a used mattress. Here’s what I found:

    The MSN Money website listed 10 things you should never buy used. A mattress is #8. “Think of all the stuff you do on your mattress. Now think of sleeping in someone else’s stuff. Ewwwww,” wrote personal finance writer Liz Pulliam Weston.

    Happy Living magazine urged buyers to learn the difference between used and rebuilt mattresses, and to be careful when buying used: “If you do decide to buy a used mattress, your best protection is to cover it in plastic to prevent any dirt or parasites from coming in contact with your body,” the article said. 

    Most states allow the sale of used mattresses but the laws vary. Federal law requires that used mattresses be labeled as such. 

    If you decide to buy used, here are some tips.

    Meanwhile, I’m waiting for my new mattress set to arrive.

    Would you buy a used mattress?

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