The practical guide to getting a free mattress

Bed bugs, mold and mildew: the three horrors of a bedroom. He had one of them. “That’s why I’m super against getting stuff off of the street,” said my friend John, face skewed, for the fifth time in the eight minutes after he witnessed a bed bug the size of a thumbnail flee from the top of his roommate’s mattress. “Bright light hurts my eyes,” I imagined the bug screeching while running away. We never saw it again.

John certainly freaks out over a lot of things. He refuses to join the Free & For Sale group because Facebook would know his Berkeley email address, hides away whenever he sees police nearby and insists on using the pronoun “they” to confuse you, my readers, about his gender. “I’m not afraid,” John reassured me. “Screw capitalism.” He adjusted his hat so it appeared straight backward.

But whether it is capitalism’s fault or not, having all your sheets, blankets and vintage socks thrown away is not worth the free bed bug-infested mattress you get, because you will have to dispose of them as well. Getting your mattress de-infested is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Even if you excel at selling infested items on eBay, “It is still too much of a hassle,” John grumbled when I suggested the idea to him. “That’s why I’m really against getting stuff off of the street,” he concluded again. His forehead gleamed with the light of wisdom.

Hopefully, you are now showered with John’s sagacity and know that freebies are not actually free. What? You didn’t know herpes can be passed through a hug? Well, you do now, so beware next time someone gives out “free” hugs — they come with a price. The same goes for the mysterious mattress you take home from the curbside.

The problem is, though, you are a broke college student who can’t afford a mattress otherwise. Fortunately, for the majority of you who are poor and in need of a mattress, I have you covered. All you need to do is to follow my plan, and in the end, you will have a brand new mattress sitting in your bedroom, free of charge. And if you are like John, who’s not afraid, this is your perfect opportunity to screw capitalism.

The plan involves three easy steps. You may have heard about the 100-day free mattress trial. Our plan builds around that. To get started, research the available options. Currently there are several websites in the market — Casper, Leesa, Novosbed and Tuft & Needle, to name a few (all of which aspire to be the Warby Parker of mattresses) — that give you a free trial of up to 100 days of their mattresses and allow you to return them free of charge.

After reviewing these websites, I decide to pass on Leesa because I don’t want to hurt her — there is a young woman sitting on a mattress smiling at me on the homepage that successfully makes me feel guilty about taking advantage of her, even though I know she is only using her human face as a disguise for the capitalist machine. So by the end of step one, you should have ordered a mattress from one of these sites, except Leesa.

If you read the return policies of these websites, you will notice that Casper, Novosbed and Tuft & Needle all claim to donate returned mattresses to local charities whenever possible. Our goal is to keep the mattress even after you return it. To do that, you want the mattress to be donated to you. In other words, you are the charity.

In step two, you create a charity that focuses on mattresses and ask the mattress company to donate their returned items to you. There aren’t many charities doing that, so the competition is fairly low. I suggest making a simple website before contacting the company. First impression is the key.

In the last step, you, the charity, have picked up the returned mattress from you, the consumer. Now it’s time to give the mattress back to you, the broke college student. What you need to do is post on your website about awarding a donated mattress to a student. You want to set up strict criteria to make sure that only you are eligible to apply. For example, I would include the line, “Preference will be given to an Asian male student who is a Cancer and a Rooster” in my award description. After the information is posted, act quickly. You don’t want someone else to find out about it and get ahead of you.

If you’ve been following my plan so far, you should own a free new mattress by now. The mattress should never need to leave your bedroom physically — only in the paperwork. In the end, mattress makers get paid, a charity gets a donation and a highly qualified student gets an award. Nobody gets hurt. It is economically efficient. “So what do I do now?” You may ask. Well, maybe you can sit on the mattress and smile to the camera, like what Leesa did. Or maybe you can even start selling mattresses online, just like what Leesa did. Either way, screw capitalism.

Contact Wenjie Yang at [email protected].