The first clue that something was amiss at Sleepy's, which has 700 stores nationwide? Several consumers discovered groves or deep depressions in their "new mattresses."
The second clue? At least one consumer received a mattress that was infested with bedbugs.
Veteran consumer reporter George Gombossy broke the Sleepy's story in Connecticut, where the chain has 74 stores. Gombossy recently was fired at The Hartford Courant, where he had worked for 40 years, after he wrote investigative articles about several of the newspapers major advertisers.
One of those major advertisers was Sleepy's. Gombossy turned in his article about Sleepy's, and it was approved by an editor, but newspaper executives then told the veteran reporter he was being dismissed. The Courant held the story without explanation, but the full piece now is available at Gombossy's Web site, ctwatchdog.com.
Here is the most shocking part of the Sleepy's story:
Jeff Maier, a Norwalk small businessman, asked [the state attorney general] to investigate Sleepy’s last December because he and his wife had a ‘’severe’’ bedbug infestation that Maier said was the result of buying what appeared to be a used box spring from the Stamford Sleepy’s store.
One week after receiving the box spring, Maier said in a telephone interview, his wife began developing red spots, which Maier said came from bedbugs.
He said they hired the Stern Environmental Group of Secaucus, N.J., to investigate and to exterminate the bugs. The company – which specializes in ridding homes of bedbugs – dismantled the box spring and determined that it was the cause of the infestation, Maier said.
Stern Environmental Group’s report, made available to me, states that the “box spring . . . was the culprit. There were bedbugs inside and the box spring did not look like it was new.”
Maier said it took two months before all the bedbugs could be killed. (During that time, he told me, he and his wife had to stay in their bed because if they slept somewhere else the bedbugs would have moved with them.)
Sleepy’s attorneys offered a replacement box spring, Gombossy reports, but they denied that the bedbugs came from their merchandise. The consumer isn't buying it:
Maier said he was suspicious when the delivery was made because the heavy plastic used to seal the box spring appeared to have been opened. He said one of the workers assured him that it was opened by them as they took it out of their truck.
Maier said there is no other explanation for the bedbug infestation. The couple had not slept anywhere else in the weeks prior to their purchase, Maier said, and their personal habits had not changed.