CMA warns PCR test providers against breaking consumer law

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has sent an open letter to PCR Covid-19 test providers warning that a range of harmful practices in the sector could breach consumer protection law.

The practices of concern to the CMA include advertising up-front prices for PCR tests which do not include additional charges that everyone must pay; advertising cheap PCR tests which are only actually available in very small quantities or are not available at all; failing to deliver PCR tests or provide results within stated timescales, or at all; and refusing to provide consumers with refunds where tests are not provided within advertised or agreed timescales, or at all.

It comes after the Government this week announced it would be warning 82 companies that they face being removed from the list if they advertise misleading prices.

Building on this, the CMA letter warns PCR test providers that if they mislead customers or treat them unfairly, they could also face enforcement action from the CMA or Trading Standards. The letter instructs PCR test providers to ‘immediately review their practices and policies to make sure they are in line with the requirements of consumer law and to make any changes where necessary’.

CMA General Counsel Sarah Cardell said, “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.

“Our advice today will also help people by setting out exactly what they should expect for their money. This warning goes hand-in-hand with action taken by 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 DHSC in reviewing this market and will be providing further advice to DHSC on action that can be taken,” she added on August 25.

Further information can be found on the CMA rapid review of PCR testing for travel web page.

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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.


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