Most people probably know that if someone is trying to sell them something out of the back of a van, the seller is probably not running a legitimate business. These items are often stolen, cheap forgeries of high-end products or used items being passed off as new.

There has been a recent rise in the latter around the UK and as I got approached myself in Worthing, West Sussex. I thought I would let my followers, friends and family know about the scam as I would hate for them to be caught out.

The temptation for a good nights sleep

People have been going around selling mattresses out the back of vans at very low prices. The mattresses being sold are old beds that have been recovered with a new topper and then wrapped up so they look and feel new. While many people are aware that things that are too good to be true often are not, the temptation of these deals may get the better of them. Mattresses are expensive items and people facing tough financial times may throw caution to the wind and invest in one of these “bargains.”

Contaminated, Dirty and Full of Bed Bugs

Buying one of these mattresses is not just a matter of being scammed out of your money. These mattresses are almost always contaminated. Worse, many pose a health risk as they may be infested with dust mites, bed bugs and other tiny parasites whose presence won’t be detected until they make their way through the new coverings. Many of the beds being sold do not meet current flame-retardant regulations. In a fire, they would burn up so quickly that they would greatly reduce a sleeper’s chance of escaping the fire.

The Sales Pitch

These scammers often go to great lengths to appear legitimate. Their vans have signs that appear to be from legitimate stores or feature the logo of the mattress brand they are selling. They often give out addresses where the mattress can be returned and accept credit cards and offer receipts. Unfortunately, with today’s technology just about anyone can process a credit card with a smartphone and get access to a portable printing device.

The sales pitch used on me was:

“I was delivering these beds to a landlord but found out he is going bankrupt. I can’t take them back to the shop as I have to pick some more up on the route home from a supplier”

Everyone’s best bet is to avoid buying a mattress from the back of a van since there is no way to tell if the sellers have a quality product to sell or if it will be possible to contact them if there is a problem. In an effort to curb these con artists, the National Bed Federation is issuing legitimate businesses a label that says “NBF approved” and features a checkmark. This means the mattress is authentic and meets all the current safety standards.


While mattresses are expensive, there are some ways to save money. Stores dedicated solely to mattress sales are usually more expensive, but many big retailers carry beds at a lower cost. Also, online sellers like Amazon offer reasonably priced mattresses that often include free shipping. Internet shoppers also need to be wary of scams and should only look into products at reputable websites.

Purchasing a mattress without getting to feel it for yourself may not be ideal but the odds of getting a product you will be satisfied with from online are better than the ones if you buy one out of a van. If possible try one out in a local bed shop and as always “negotiate”!!