Deposits matter, mattresses don’t


You’re a student, which is increasingly becoming synonymous with ‘cash-strapped.’ You’ve got fees, rent, books and everything else to pay for. But at any one time the University could be holding up to £400 of your money in deposits – one for the deposit for that year and another £200 if you have applied for the next year. That’s £200-£400 from each student living on campus.

It is such a joy in the middle of the summer to receive that nice lump sum you so desperately need. Money you had almost forgotten about and thought long gone. That is, if there’s any of it left.

That’s how I felt. Being a conscientious tenant, I left my room picture-perfect. After wiping down the surfaces, polishing the desk, washing the windows, shampooing the carpet, I left my room in a condition better than that which I received it in. So I was most surprised when I found myself being asked to pay the large sum of £90, almost half my deposit, for a new mattress. A new mattress?

I felt compelled to dispute this, so I thought it was reasonable to ask, why are students being asked to replace old mattresses? Surely that is fair wear and tear? I was then told that it was not an old mattress, but a brand new one, only eight months old. Could have fooled me; my 10 year old mattress at home did not have me whimpering in agony from spinal injury.

Apparently when the room was inspected, a mark was found. Then I received the damning evidence. The reason for replacement? A small lightly printed footprint on the edge of the bed.

I was perplexed. How could it be logical to throw away a perfectly good brand new eight month old mattress because of a small, easily cleanable mark? When I brought up the issue that throwing away perfectly good new mattresses is detrimental to the environment, I was told the argument was irrelevant to the discussion. Obviously ripping off students is much more important priority.

Apparently students, far from being the bohemian, grotty dwellers they are credited for, would be most appalled and demand a new mattress immediately. “Sorry I can’t sleep in that bed, there’s a footprint on the bottom side of the mattress.”

This is not a unique case; you can find countless stories of the same thing around the University. Mattresses are one of the most common, and most expensive reasons why students get their deposits deducted. Mattresses which should be replaced every 5-10 years are getting replaced every few months. Not only is this a waste of money (not for the University, but for the cash-strapped students who pay for the privilege), but also a huge damage to the environment. Mattresses are the number one filler of landfill sites; they are 400% less compactable than most landfill waste and take up to 23 cubic feet of space.

It seems there is a culture of waste when it comes to running student accommodation. The waste being funded exclusively by the student on the student’s behalf. After a long fight I eventually managed to get the charge waived, but I doubt many others have been so lucky.

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