‘New’ Mattresses Filled With Stained, Moldy, Smelly Parts

CBS Atlanta Undercover Investigation Reveals No Oversight of Used Mattress Industry

By Jeff Chirico, CBS Atlanta Investigative Reporter
POSTED: 10:36 pm EDT May 16, 2011
UPDATED: 10:33 am EDT May 17, 2011
Source:  CBSatlanta.com

An exclusive CBS Atlanta undercover investigation found mattresses sold as new were filled with stained, moldy and smelly mattress parts.

CBS Atlanta sent two undercover employees posing as customers into Mattress 4 Sale in Forest Park. The undercover team asked the store manager, Anna Thomas, if the beds were new. Thomas said, “They’re new. Yes, ma’am. We manufacture them ourselves.”

After purchasing two mattresses for $233, CBS Atlanta took them to Champion Cleaning Systems — a professional cleaning company in Sharpsburg.

Certified, master cleaner Jeremy Reets cut the pristine covers off the mattresses revealing dirty, smelly and stained materials underneath. Reets conducted a test revealing one mattress had mold in it.

Reets said he is disgusted by what he found. “If I saw that on the street I wouldn’t touch it much less sleep on it,” said Reets. He said he believes there are unhealthy amounts of bacteria in the mattresses.

Garey Clark of Clark Pest Control couldn’t find evidence of live or dead bed bugs but said it is very possible for bed bugs to be transferred through the use of used mattress materials.

Thomas defended her claim that the mattresses were new. “I tell [customers] they’re new because that’s the best of my knowledge. I’m not going to say they’re refurbished if I don’t know that they are,” said Thomas.

But outside the factory that supplies Mattress 4 Sale stores, CBS Atlanta found piles of used mattresses.

Owner Kamal Shelbayah told CBS Atlanta reporter Jeff Chirico that he reuses old parts to make mattresses he calls “rebuilts.”

Georgia law allows the reuse and resale of mattress parts. Bill Cloud, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, said state laws regulating the used mattress industry were repealed in 1996. Part of the repealed laws required mattress manufacturers to sanitize used parts before reusing them.

“As a legislator, I’m appalled at that,” said State Representative Ralph Long III who represents the district in Southwest Atlanta where the mattress factory is located

“People deserve to know what’s inside their mattresses. This is unacceptable,” said Long.

CBS Atlanta’s findings prompted Long to call a meeting with Shelbayah.

“I’m embarrassed to have this in my district,” said Long to Shelbayah. “I saw something I do not want my children sleeping on.”

Shelbayah defended his business. “I don’t sell new mattresses. I sell rebuilt mattress. I manufacture rebuilt mattresses,” said Shelbayah during the meeting. Shelbayah said he is helping those who can’t afford expensive new mattresses by offering rebuilt mattresses at a cheaper price.

While giving CBS Atlanta a tour of his facility, Shelbayah explained how he uses old parts and new material to create rebuilt beds. He said the old parts are sanitized before they’re used.

Shelbayah denied that he or his salespeople are trying to pass the mattresses off as new.

However, the mattresses CBS Atlanta purchased do not have the federally-required tags indicating the beds contain used materials.

Rep. Long said he will introduce legislation to regulate the industry.

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