Sumary of UK watchdog calls for much tougher vetting of Covid PCR test firms:
- The consumer watchdog has called for much tougher government vetting of private companies selling Covid-19 tests to travellers, following revelations about poor service from “rogue” operators that it said had resulted in a lottery for customers.
- The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the market for PCR tests, in which private businesses apply for inclusion on a government-approved list, was not working and risked causing a “race to the bottom” among companies touting for customers.
- The intervention comes amid concern about the quality of service provided by testing companies, who are thought to have made sales of more than £500m since mid-May, when non-essential international travel resumed.
- The Guardian has previously revealed that companies who appeared on the government’s list of approved suppliers lost customers’ test kits, failed to provide results and withheld refunds.
- Customers have said they ended up sourcing free kits from the NHS, increasing costs for the health service due to the failings of the private sector.
- The CMA called on the Department of Health to introduce a “comprehensive monitoring and enforcement programme” to ensure basic standards and sanctions for companies that fail to meet them.
- From complaints about dodgy pricing practices, to unfair terms, to failure to provide tests on time or at all, to problems with getting refunds, the experience for some is just not good enough.