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Retail Furniture & Mattresses – How to Protect Your Store From Bed Bug Lawsuits!

Disclaimer: I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV! As published in Furniture Today there was a recent lawsuit where a consumer prevailed against a store. Click here for the story http://www.furnituretoday.com/article/549249-Furniture_store_hit_with_225_000_bed_bug_verdict.php. To be fair the store did not put forth a vigorous defense as it appears they were in the process of going out of business. It is probably also true that there will be no recovery for the plaintiff who won the lawsuit. Also the specific allegation against this retailer involved a pair of wood frame beds not mattresses. To read more about that specific case click here http://bedbugger.com/2012/03/10/arundel-maryland-woman-wins-225000-from-furniture-seller/. Click here to read an article about a New Jersey couple who won a lawsuit against JC Penneys http://bedbugger.com/2012/03/10/arundel-maryland-woman-wins-225000-from-furniture-seller/.

Please do not kid yourself that this can’t happen to you because the blood is now in the water. There will probably be a proliferation of bed bug lawsuits against furniture and mattress stores in the not too distant future. There is no stopping the lawsuits. Here are some suggestions that my dealers have taken to make sure that they prevail against a consumer who brings such a lawsuit against them.

If you are dragged in to court to defend yourself, your best defense will be a good offense.  By that I mean developing and implementing a plan to fight the spread of bedbugs.  While there aren’t any broadly distributed standards supported by the legal system that I know of, doing your due diligence BEFORE you have a problem is definitely the best way to go.

1 Stop – selling used or reconditioned mattresses and furniture.

2 Removal – Do not remove customer’s old beds and put them on your truck. If you feel that you have to offer removal, limit the removal to the customers tree lawn or garage. This will help you to limit your liability.

3 Dedicated Truck – If you don’t listen to tip #2 use a dedicated truck to remove old beds and never use that truck to deliver new mattresses.

4 Zipper it! – If you insist on removing old mattresses, please place them in a zippered bag designed for such a task before you put them on your truck.  Protect A Bed offers a great product called Storage or Disposal Bag.

5 Inspection by Professionals – Have a reputable exterminator do regular inspections of your warehouse, showrooms, and trucks for bed bugs. Yes it will cost some money but having a history of inspections will be a strong affirmative defense against a bed bug lawsuit.

6 Awareness & Education – All employees need to be able to identify bed bugs. In some hotels if a cleaning person identifies bed bugs they are rewarded financially for discovering the infestation. Education and vigilance will serve you well in the war against bed bugs. To educate your self about bed bugs just click here http://www.protectabed.com/.

7 Who Let The Dogs Out! – One of my most progressive retailers actually employs specially trained bed bug sniffing dogs that inspect his warehouses, showrooms, and trucks on a regular schedule.

8 Encase – This is for rental stores. Encase your rental mattresses with Protect A Bed encasements. They are entry and escape proof for bed bugs. There are other brands on the market which do not offer any real protection against bed bugs. Rental stores should also use Protect A Bed’s storage and disposal bags.

9 Prep – When furniture stores prep their deliveries all furniture should be inspected for bedbugs. As you can see from the above lawsuits furniture is as big a target as mattresses for potential bed bug lawsuits.

Disclaimer – I have recommended two specific products from Protect A Bed. I am a sales rep for Protect A Bed, but most of my readers are in other states and other countries where I could not sell them Protect A Bed. I was actually an owner of Protect A Bed products before I became a rep. I recommended Protect A Bed encasements because they are superior to anything else in the marketplace.

Your Turn – What are your best practices to protect against bed bug lawsuits?

Please post your comments and questions. I answer them all. Also please visit us on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/PrimeauFurnitureSales and Like us! Our like page has the latest breaking news in the industry as well as product information, inspiring videos, motivational quotes, and selling tips!

Articles? Please email me any ideas for articles that you want me to write. Have you written an article on sales, goal setting, or time management? I’ll be glad to publish them in my ezine and on my website! Please email them to me at peteprimeau@ameritech.net.

Wishing You Success,

Pete

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Comments (14)

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  1. Pete Primeau says:

    Looks good. We use Sterifab that kills bed bugs on our trucks. And also on all comfort returns. The dog helps make a point that we take it seriously. We also bag all haul offs and never bring them into our warehouse.
    Brian Pancost

  2. Pete Primeau says:

    Hey Pete,

    You never cease to amaze me. This is dynamite information. I am far from being an expert on this topic but I’ll make two non-professional comments. Not much, but hope it helps somewhat.

    #5 Inspection by professionals.
    Devise a form sheet for the retailers whereby the reputable exterminator signs off, after each spraying, that the warehouse (premise) was treated for bed bugs.
    2. Suggest to retailers that mattress bags remained sealed and have customer sign a receipt of same, upon delivery.
    These two suggestions should help limit liability.

    Best,
    Jim Bodino

  3. Pete Primeau says:

    Pete,

    You have real good suggestions.
    Here are a few more.

    Have your mattress manufacturer’s certify that their trucks are bed bug free because they fumigate them on a regular basis. (have them provide proof)
    All delivery trucks should be fumigated on a regular basis. (keep proof)
    These extra steps may not ensure that you won’t be sued, but it will show the steps you’ve taken to prevent the problem in the first place.
    Kind regards,

    Ira M. Fishman

  4. Pete Primeau says:

    Thanks Ira! Great points!

  5. Pete Primeau says:

    Pete,

    A great article and well written!

    Thanks,
    Rick Lynch

  6. Pete Primeau says:

    Hi Pete,
    I read through the article and think that it covers all the important areas. I also had Brian Hirsch (our Bed Bug expert!) read through it and he gave his stamp of approval as well!
    Have a great weekend!
    Jared Bell

  7. Pete Primeau says:

    Thanks Jared! Have a Great Weekend!

  8. coleen agvent says:

    Need to purchase a new mattress and I’m looking for a retailer that is aware of the bedbug problem.
    1.Delivers new, encased mattresses in separate trucks that do not take returns.
    2.Uses a designated truck for removals of mattresses/furniture.
    3. Has regular inspections and treatments of warehouses and trucks for bedbugs.

    I reside in Connecticut. Please send me any info that may help
    Thank you.

    • Pete Primeau says:

      Coleen,
      Look for a Protect A Bed Dealer in your area. I am not familiar with Connecticut or I would be glad to give you a recommendation. Your qualifiers for a dealer to do business with are spot on. Asking these questions over the phone to your local mattress dealers will weed out some poor choices to do business with. Sorry that I could not be more helpful.

      Pete

  9. Marina Klima says:

    this is very valuable information. Thank you very much.

  10. Very educating story, saved your site for hopes to read more.

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