You want to buy a mattress from a store that offers the option to return the product within a certain time frame if you don't like it. Some stores refund the purchase price minus a restocking fee. Others allow you to exchange the mattress for a different one, a service known as comfort exchange. Stores usually don't allow returns unless the mattress is still in like-new condition.
You've started wondering what happens to mattresses that customers return. Obviously, the store can't sell them as brand new if someone has been sleeping on them. Depending on the store and relevant regulations, there are numerous ways to handle returns.
Using Them as Floor Models
You know those beds you can lie down on in stores to try out the mattress? That's one way stores may use returned mattresses.
Selling to Shops That Sell Used Mattresses
Some states allow retail sales of used mattresses, typically requiring a permit to do so. The permit usually instructs the store to sanitize used mattresses, and some permits require treatment to eradicate bed bugs.
Returned mattresses are welcomed by retailers who sell used ones. These items are in great shape and have typically been in use fewer than 90 days. In addition, they probably were protected by a cover during that time, since consumers know they can't return products that have stains or any other signs of wear.
Selling Them to Mattress Manufacturers
Manufacturers of inexpensive off-brand mattresses may make them partly from recycled materials, such as those from returned products. Products known as rebuilt mattresses also may contain these materials.
Donating to Charity
The store might donate these mattresses to a charity such as a furniture bank, homeless shelter or women's shelter.
Recycling or Junking
A limited number of recycling companies accept mattresses. The store also can simply view the return as a loss and junk the mattress in the dumpster. Some states and municipalities require that stores dispose of even slightly used mattresses in these ways.
Can't The Store Return the Product to the Manufacturer?
This is not allowed in situations that simply involve the customer finding the mattress to be uncomfortable. It's only allowed if the product is actually defective in some way and is covered by warranty.
If you're curious about the specific store you get your mattress from—like West Coast Mattress or another locations—ask a sales rep what they do with returned mattresses. Some store websites include the information in their frequently asked questions section.