UK Regulator Warns COVID-19 Test Providers

Private companies that sell COVID-19 tests to holidaymakers have been told to “get on the right side of the law” by the competition regulator, after widespread allegations of poor service triggered a government crackdown.

Days after the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said “cowboy” PCR test firms could be removed from the government’s list of approved providers, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued a separate warning.

Related: UK Lowers Cost Of COVID-19 Travel Tests After Probe

It stated rogue companies could face enforcement action from the CMA itself or from National Trading Standards if they are found to be breaking consumer law by misleading customers or treating them unfairly.

It follows multiple allegations that private providers, who are thought to have made £500 million since the return of international leisure travel in mid-May, failed to deliver tests, send results, and process refunds.

In an open letter to PCR test firms, many of which sprang up this year, the CMA’s general counsel, Sarah Cardell, wrote, “PCR test providers should be in no doubt that they need to get on the right side of the law. If they don’t, they risk enforcement action.

“This warning goes hand in hand with action taken by the government this week and is the latest step in our work to tackle rip-off prices and bad service. We continue to work closely with [the Department of Health and Social Care] in reviewing this market and will be providing further advice to DHSC on action that can be taken.”

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