MILWAUKEE -- When it's time to get a "new" mattress, do you really know how old a "new" one is? FOX6's Contact 6 went undercover to slice open a "bed of lies."
Jennifer Rivera and Jackie Williams have questions about who else has been sleeping in their beds.
Williams bought her bed from Best Quality Furniture near 12th and Vliet.
Rivera got her bed from Shahd Linens on 16th and Lincoln Avenue.
Two different stores, but these viewers got in touch with Contact 6 with the same story.
"He said it was new. He said everything in the store was new. Never mentioned refurbished, used, nothing," Rivera said.
"Told me they were new -- supposed to be brand new mattresses, and they weren't," Williams said.
With a hidden camera, Contact 6's producer went into Shahd Linens, where the owner was up front and said the mattresses are "refurbished." The owner says he's never gotten any complaints, but then brings up Contact 6 and Rivera's complaint.
Contact 6 sent another representative back to Shahd Linens with a hidden camera, and got a different story. The salesperson said nothing was "used."
When Contact 6 brought the mattress back to FOX6, it was pretty easy for bedding expert Tom Cass to tell it was used. The tag stated "second-hand, used."
"You can tell by the oxidation and the color on the foam that this is an aged foam, somewhat dry and cracked. There is very little doubt in my mind that this bed has been used for a significant period of time. It's probably 10 to 12 years old," Cass said.
"The average human expels about a pint of fluid an evening when they're laying in the bed, so over a period of 10 years, all of that moisture is going to be absorbed into that mattress," Cass said.
It might be gross, but it's not illegal. The Department of Consumer Protection says selling refurbished beds is legal, but it's a violation to sell them as new -- like the Shahd Linen salesperson did in Contact 6's hidden camera investigation.
At Best Quality Furniture, a salesperson told a Contact 6 representative the beds are refurbished.
"The insides are used, but they have been disinfected and everything. The outsides are brand new," the salesperson said.
When Contact 6 ripped open the mattress, it didn't look clean.
"Certainly there's a potential of it being dust mites, their droppings, their remains, things of that nature," Cass said.
Neither store wanted to look at the ripped apart mattresses. Both said the beds are manufactured in Chicago, and the supplier assures them the mattresses are sanitized, disinfected and safe for use. They also pointed out it's a great value for their customers.
The queen size mattress from Best Quality was $133, while the mattress and box spring from Shahd was $169.
Entry-level queen beds from Steinhafels go for $298 or at American for $255 -- beds you'll know are brand new, and not just new to you.