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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
October 20, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
- Kimberly Ricketts, Director

 

Jeff Lamm, Kara Wood
973-504-6327

 

Soiled and Bug Infested Used Mattresses Seized at Two Essex County Stores

NEWARK — Attorney General Peter C. Harvey today announced that investigators from the Division of Consumer Affairs this week seized approximately 175 used mattresses and/or boxsprings from two Amazing Prices, Inc. stores in Essex County after customers filed complaints alleging the mattresses they purchased were soiled, smelly and infested with bed bugs.

According to Attorney General Harvey and Division of Consumer Affairs Director Kimberly Ricketts, investigators conducted undercover inspections of the Amazing Prices stores in Orange and East Orange this month in response to the consumer complaints. Based on those inspections, the State is alleging that the stores violated State regulations that require secondhand mattresses to be sterilized and disinfected before sale and also labeled with relevant consumer information.

“Consumers are entitled to know under the law whether they are buying new or used goods,” Attorney General Harvey said. “So, it’s totally unacceptable to withhold this information. Even worse, by withholding this information, consumers didn’t know they were buying potentially unsafe and hazardous products.”

“This situation is gross and disgusting. At least one child is alleged to have been bitten by bed bugs and subsequently developed a skin rash. It’s reprehensible that the health and welfare of these customers were endangered. We will act swiftly and to the fullest extent of our laws against merchants who place profit above the public’s well being,” Consumer Affairs Director Ricketts said.

Consumer Affairs’ investigators impounded the 175 mattresses on Tuesday after obtaining a Court order. Prior to this action, an entomologist examined mattresses purchased by Consumer Affairs and confirmed the presence of bed bugs.

Under the Mattress Sale Statute, anyone selling a secondhand mattress must:

  • Have a label, at least 3 by 4-1/2 inches in size, attached to the mattress and stating that the materials in the mattress "are in whole or in part secondhand" followed by a specific enumeration and description of the secondhand materials used.
  • Every secondhand mattress shall have printed on the label information about:
    a. Date of sterilization and disinfection.
    b. Name of person performing same.
    c. Address of person performing same.
The State also is alleging violations of the furniture delivery and merchandise advertising regulations.

Upon discovering the bed bugs, some consumers had to have their residences cleaned and fumigated.

“New mattresses can easily cost more than $1,000. Some consumers opt to purchase a secondhand mattress. But when deciding between new or used, consumers should not have to wonder whether they are placing their health at risk. Regardless of price, everyone who purchases a mattress is entitled to sanitary bedding,” Director Ricketts said.

The Amazing Prices stores are located 528 Central Avenue in East Orange and 281 Main Street in Orange. The stores are required to file responses to the State’s allegations with the Court next month.

Deputy Attorney General Angela Gunter Foster is representing the State in this matter.

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