I bought a £269 memory foam mattress in a box from Dunelm in Greenford, West London, for our spare bed.
When I unpacked it at home, the mattress started growing hugely.
My wife in the meantime inspected the mattress and realised it would be of medium firmness when we really needed a firm one for our guest room, so we decided to return it.
We tried to get it back in the box but there was not a hope as it was still expanding.
I phoned the Greenford store but got no reply. I phoned another nearby Dunelm store.
Impossible: A reader was told they could not return their new memory foam mattress unless it was in the original box
No reply. I tried the only helpline number I could find on the website and got the message ‘this helpline is closed’.
Still the mattress was growing. I threw it and the box in the back of my car and drove the 40 miles to Greenford, where a member of staff saw my obvious problem of being unable to put it back in the box but said it was a management decision about whether I could return it.
The manager saw my point of view but confirmed he couldn’t take it back because it wasn’t in its original packaging.
I don’t have a professional mattress compressor at home, which I discovered seems to be the only way of packing it into a box, and when I asked if anyone could help me try to squash it back down, there were no takers. It is an impossible task.
All the manager suggested was to raise an online complaint. Can you help?
Sally Hamilton replies: So that I could properly visualise your problem, I asked you to send me a photo of the incredible expanding mattress alongside the box it came in.
I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the image, which I wish I could share with readers.
I estimate the mattress had ballooned to at least six times the volume of the cardboard box.
Physics suggests there was no way you could have squeezed it back in without the box being ripped to shreds.
An online search revealed that memory foam mattresses generally can take up to three days to expand to their full unpacked size, so it was not unusual for you to witness it growing in front of your eyes.
I looked up Dunelm’s returns policy and it does say items can be returned within 28 days so long as they are ‘unused and in their original condition (including all packaging and tags intact)’.
I noted from the photographic evidence that the mattress was still in its unopened plastic cover, so I would suggest it was still in its original wrapping, even if it wasn’t in the box.
I thought Dunelm could have taken a more generous approach to your dilemma, so asked it to reconsider. To firm up my argument, I attached the photo of the swollen mattress.
I’m pleased to say Dunelm sprang into action and quickly agreed a full refund, so long as you agreed to return the mattress to the shop, which you were happy to do.
Buying a mattress is a tricky process as purchasers often only realise after sleeping on it for a period that it’s too firm or too soft.
Returning one can be a minefield, though, depending on the retailer and how you buy it. If you buy one in person, unless it is faulty or damaged, it can only be sent back for a refund if the retailer’s terms and conditions allow it.
Returns policies vary from retailer to retailer so it is vital to check first. A credit note might be the only option offered if the mattress is unsuitable.
Buyers have more rights if a mattress is purchased online. Under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, if someone buys goods online or by phone, they can cancel the order and get a full refund 14 days from the day of delivery.
This is an important right, as shoppers haven’t had the chance to inspect their purchase in person.
They might have to pay for the return delivery charges and send it back in the original packaging. If the packaging is damaged, the retailer has the right to make a deduction on the amount it will reimburse.
If a mattress is bought from a retailer offering a ‘sleep trial’, whether online or in a shop, buyers can usually return one hassle free if it proves unsuitable.
But check the details first, as the trial periods and return rules differ.
Mattresses sent back after a sleep trial are typically donated to charity.
Straight to the point I asked my son to order a remote controlled battleship as a Christmas present for my grandson but it never arrived.
My son sent several emails to Amazon but has not had a reply. I cannot afford to lose £98, please help.
G.R., via email.
Amazon has now spoken to you to resolve the issue, which it says was because you contacted the third party seller instead of customer services directly.
You have since received a refund.
In March, Tesco Bank launched an offer which gave savers who made three deposits of at least £20 a voucher for 500 Clubcard points.
I paid the money into my Tesco bank account but am yet to receive the points.
Tesco says that although you made the necessary deposits, you did not pay them into the right account.
It says the offer could have been clearer and has decided to apply the points to your account, along with 500 additional points and £100 as a gesture of goodwill.
I had £63 on my Iceland card but while I was on holiday in July my card was stolen and used to purchase £62.70 worth of items.
Iceland sent me a new card but it has the same number as the old one. Please help.
Iceland says that it has reimbursed you for the money stolen and has provided you with a £100 gesture of goodwill for the inconvenience caused.
Help us recover £3,300 of school fundsI am chairman of the trustees of Snarestone Church of England Primary School in Leicestershire.
For many years we have held two bank accounts with NatWest bank, a current account and a deposit account. In about 2018, the bank wrote to us to advise it was going to close the deposit account due to inactivity.
There was approximately £3,300 in the account. Unfortunately, as we did not respond quickly enough, the account was closed, and NatWest transferred the money to a holding account. We have tried to recover this money by filling in various forms but all to no avail.
It just does not seem to want to pay the money back.
Why can the bank not just transfer the money to our current account?
I asked our local MP to intervene but got nowhere. I am at a complete loss as to what further action I can take and so am seeking your help.
Sally Hamilton replies: Your school’s deposit account became dormant through lack of use. It is common practice for this to happen after a period of inactivity, with the shutters coming down varying from bank to bank (or building society).
This can be as short as two or as long as 15 years.
The institution must attempt to get in touch with an account holder before closing the curtains, which NatWest did. Once dormant, the account cannot be accessed by the customer and the bank can use the money as it sees fit. However, the balance technically becomes a debt owed to the account holder by the bank, so you can call it in at any time.
This you tried but failed to do. You admit you didn’t act fast enough when receiving notification of it becoming dormant but once you did, I felt the customer service you received was particularly dozy, so I gave NatWest a prod on your behalf.
Within a few days the bank freed up the cash, which has now been transferred into the school’s current account, along with £350 as an apology.
A spokesman says: ‘We apologise for the issues this customer has faced when transferring their funds out of a dormant deposit account. We have transferred the funds to the customer’s business current account and offered compensation in recognition of the inconvenience caused.’
NatWest says it followed procedure, putting the account to sleep because there had been no activity on it for five years and nine months. The root of the problem was the deposit account had been given a different bank identification number (BIN) from the current account more than 25 years ago.
The BIN is the first few numbers on an account’s payment card that tells you which bank has issued it. This meant the two accounts were not linked. Had they been given the same BIN, the deposit account would have remained active as the current account was still being used and you would not have had the balance frozen.
Hopefully, you can now put the unleashed funds to good use just as the new school year gets under way.
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