A mattress is not something you need to buy every six months, but when you do, it can be quite an experience. For first-timers, buying a mattress can seem like a hassle because of the different options available and the different price points. Do you buy foam or innerspring? Do you buy a regular mattress or a luxury bed, and what exactly is the difference between the two? Should you try a mattress before purchase or choose the more convenient option of online shopping?
It isn’t surprising that a lot of people end up with the wrong mattress thanks to the confusion created by the variety of products. We don’t always pay attention to it, but a mattress is crucial to our sleep quality. Therefore, choosing a reputed brand and quality materials are important in order to ensure that you pick the right bed.
But when you bring home your new mattress, you might be baffled by a small tag on one side that is supposedly illegal to remove. Really? A mattress tag is illegal to remove?! However, upon closer look, you will discover something entirely different. Let’s find that out.
What Are Mattress Tags?
Almost everything that you buy comes with some kind of a label. This is where all the important information about the product is provided, such as the brand, the size, the material, and care instructions. From clothing to bedding to cosmetics to household goods, almost all commodities come with tags. Not surprisingly mattresses also come with such a tag. This is where the manufacturer, the material, the place of manufacture, and care instructions are listed. But, besides that, something else is also written on this mattress tag: “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law.”
Seeing a label like this on a mattress (or on any commodity) can be amusing, and also a laughing matter. Why on earth would the law care about what people did with mattress tags? Doesn’t the law have enough to deal with already?
If you want to remove the tag for whatever reason, the fear of legal action can prevent you from doing so. But really, how would anybody find out if you had removed the tag from your mattress? The last time we checked, the police did not perform routine inspections on households to find out if they had removed the tag from the mattress. The police have more important things to do.
If the “Do not remove under penalty of law” tag on your mattress has ever puzzled you, it’s time you looked closer. There are three little words to dispel your fear: “except by consumer.”
What Is This All About?
That little tag on the mattress is for the consumer’s safety, but the warning is for the seller. The consumer is not only allowed to cut off the tag, but they can also cut open an entire mattress and do whatever they want to with it. No one from the law is ever going to be concerned with it. However, if you are a manufacturer or seller, then you should take the tag very seriously because removing it (or not putting it there at all) can land you in trouble.
The tag is put in place to assure customers that they are buying a new, never-used mattress that’s been made of quality, safe, and hygienic materials. If there is no tag on a mattress, it has a questionable origin. Although there is an interesting story behind how the tag came into existence, its purpose is to inform consumers about the quality of the product they are purchasing and if it is safe for use.
A mattress is something that you sleep on every night. It comes into direct contact with your skin and breath. That is the reason why should be as safe and hygienic possible. You wouldn’t want to find out later that the mattress you’ve been sleeping on is actually stuffed with discarded hospital bedding. Filthy, right? That’s exactly the reason why the mattress tag came to exist.
The Story Behind the Tag
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the modern mattresses we get now did not exist. Mattresses were very basic items, something that people did not put much thought into during purchase. This gave manufacturers a free run and made government officials very concerned about the safety of materials that were used to stuff mattresses. In order to cut costs, manufacturers went as far as to recycle old and used bedding to make “new” mattresses. As a result, the new mattresses weren’t really new or never-used. They were full of bacteria and posed health risks to users.
The fear was greater about bedding from hospitals being used to stuff new mattresses. The indiscriminate use of discarded hospital bedding items was spreading infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and smallpox.
The tag was put into place for ending these unsanitary practices. Initially the tag was meant to list all the materials that were used to stuff the mattress. But later, to make sure that manufacturers or sellers did not remove the tag, the legal warning was added.
However, confusion arose among consumers about what to do with the tag. To clear things up, the words “except by consumer” were added later to the warning.
Penalties for No-Tag Mattresses
If you ever find a mattress that is being sold without this tag, it’s either a fake product or it’s stuffed with questionable materials. That’s not all. You can report the manufacturer selling mattresses without the tag. The penalty can range from a legal notice served to the manufacturer or seller to stop removing the tags or provide the correct information, to a fine of up to $1,000. Although this is a federal law, the design of the label and the information that it lists are decided by each state. If a mattress is recycled, then every material used for the stuffing should be listed on the tag. This ensures that consumers receive a product that’s safe and hygienic.