What are the legal considerations of buying a mattress and when can you return something you don’t like?
Changing your mattress can be an anxious time – particularly if you are sleeping well and find your current mattress comfortable. When looking for your new mattress, there are lots of things to consider, not least price, composition and tension…
That’s not surprising – there is a lot of information available to help you make the right choice for you, but what if you get it wrong? In this article we explore some of the common themes and provide some top tips to help you ensure that you get the right product, for you.
Comfort Guarantees promise time to get used to your new mattress. This is an important USP in a market which trades in the most subject of products out there (remember Goldilocks?).
Comfort guarantees are helpful to give you time to get used to your new mattress because any change can take a while to adjust to. But remember, they should offer more than just your legal rights and because of this they might have other conditions attached to them. You should check the terms and conditions before you buy to make sure you do everything that is expected of you.
So, comfort guarantees might help out the consumer, but how does the law work for those of us who don’t have a comfort guarantee to fall back on?
Some of this depends upon how you buy your products in the first place.
If you go into a store to buy a mattress you have the advantage of trying lots of different types to help you find the one most suited to you. This means that you can take off your shoes, lie back and test out the different comfort grades, tensions, fillings, bases, mechanisms, storage functions, televisions…sounds exhausting.
But, the key here is that there is no automatic right to cancel if you get it wrong. Of course, this doesn’t affect your consumer rights if there is a problem– it just means that you can’t return the mattress if, for example, you find it uncomfortable.
So, our advice is to take your time; go back again and ask questions to make sure you are buying something suitable for you.
When buying any product on line, you have a right to cancel. This runs for 14 days starting the day after delivery.
This means that you can take that time to make sure it suits you…right?
There is some debate about this.
The same consumer regulations that give you the right to cancel, provide for some exemptions – one of these relates to hygiene. There is some guidance to suggest that removing the packaging from a mattress will render it unsaleable if you did return it, suggesting you should leave the packaging on.
However, and contrary to this, Trading Standards in the UK believe that since consumers are entitled to “handle goods” (and handling is defined as “the sort of thing that might reasonably be allowed in a shop”), it is reasonable for you to remove the packaging in order to try out the mattress, just as you would do in a shop.
So, what is our advice in light of this?
Well, given that retailers can make deductions if you reduce the value of something (for example, you damage it), you should take care of any goods until you have decided that you definitely want to keep them – mattresses are no different. You can take off the wrapping, put it on your base (as long as the base is suitable and not damaged) and try the mattress in the comfort of your own home.
But, don’t sleep on it overnight and be very careful not to spill anything on it. If you do, the retailer is within their right to deduct cleaning costs etc. from the amount they refund you.
As with any guarantee there will be terms and conditions attached to these, so make sure you understand what you must do before you buy the mattress. For example, some guarantees state you must sleep on the mattress for a specified time to allow for it to settle; some state that you have to pay return delivery costs; they will probably tell you that you need to look after the mattress and any soiling or spillages will mean you cannot claim under the guarantee.
What Are Your Obligations?
As with all contracts, there are some obligations on a consumer, for example, you will have to pay the purchase price.
But there are other important obligations, for example, you will have to be certain that the mattress will fit into your property and up any stairs – mattress cannot be bent so a delivery team should not try to deliver something that won’t fit.
Also, not all mattresses are suitable for all bases, so make sure what you are buying is compatible with what you already have. Remember, the retailer does not know if you have a slatted base or 10 year old divan base, so you need to tell them and check the combination works and will not damage your new mattress.
Ombudsman’s Top Tips for buying Mattresses:
- Research whether buying on-line or in-store, investigate what you are buying and make sure it is suitable for you.
- Check the retailer’s expectations for returning goods; let them know of you are intending to take the packaging off to try it.
- Take Care of the goods; remember, the retailer can make a deduction if you reduce the value in any way.
Our “Consumer law and understanding bed and mattress complaints” City & Guilds accredited course is designed to provide delegates with a comprehensive understanding of consumer legislation and the issues surrounding bed and mattress complaints. Click here for details
Legal Counsel & Head of ADR