Stores Selling Bedbug-Infested Mattresses, Says City

Investigation leads to charges against five stores; closure of one

By BJ Lutz and Lisa Parker
|  Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011  |  Updated 5:30 PM CDT
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Bedbugs Infest Mattress Stores, Says City

City officials launched an investigation after receiving a litany of complaints from itchy and sleep-deprived customers.
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At least five stores in the Chicago area sold new or refurbished mattresses containing bedbugs, city officials said Thursday.

The stores include Mike's Furniture, Best Mattress Company, TC Furniture, and Guadalajara Furniture.  One of the stores, Best Mattress Company, has been shut down.

City officials launched the investigation after receiving a litany of complaints from itchy and sleep-deprived customers.

"This is an issue of taking advantage of consumers," said Commissioner Norma Reyes with the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. "Particularly the most-vulnerable consumers in the City of Chicago -- seniors and people with limited income."

In the process of investigating the mattress stores, investigators found hundreds of mattresses being refurbished in unsanitary conditions.  Many of the mattresses were also improperly labeled or not labeled at all, which is a violation of Illinois law.

"In Illinois, a mattress cannot be sold unless it is labeled new, and if it was refurbished, it must say it's been refurbished," said Reyes.

One of the affected customers, Yvette Davis, said she began itching two weeks after buying a mattress and box spring from Mike's Furniture last June. Dozens of bug bites cover her body, she says.

"I knew something was wrong because I was getting bitten too many times and it wasn't no mosquitoes," said Davis.

After calling the store to complain, they agreed to send over a replacement set.  Shortly after it arrived, she said, there were more bugs and more bites.

"I've been sleeping on the air mattress ever since," Davis said.

All but one of the mattress stores refused to comment.

But at least Chicago's not the worst off in the Midwest. On Thursday, the state of Ohio asked for emergency protection to fight their own infestation.

Sleep well, Illinois.

City of Chicago: Frequently Asked Questions about Bed Bugs
Department of Business Affairs & Consumer ProtectionPurchasing a Mattress in Chicago (.pdf)

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