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CMA: PCR test providers warned against breaking consumer law

long Covid

By Isabel Shaw

25 Aug 2021

The UK competition regulator has warned PCR Covid test providers that they may risk enforcement action for misleading advertising.

In an open letter sent to providers today (25 August), the Competition Market Authority (CMA) listed a range of practices and conducts which could lead to legal action from the CMA or Trading Standards.

Practices which the CMA are concerned about including the advertising of prices for PCR tests that do not include all the necessary additional charges, as well as the advertising packs of cheap tests which are only available in very small quantities or not at all.

It also highlighted another key concern as failing to deliver PCR tests or to provide the results within a timescale advertised.

It also said that refusing to provide customers with refunds when tests have failed to arrive or had not been provided within the time promised would lead to legal action.

Providers to review requirements of consumer law

The letter asked all providers to ‘immediately’ review their conduct and policies to ‘make sure they are in line with the requirements of consumer law and to make any changes where necessary’.

This comes after the Government announced earlier this week (23 August) that it would be warning 82 testing companies that they face being removed from the Governments test list if they advertise misleading prices.

Sarah Cardell, the General Counsel at the CMA 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 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 DHSC in reviewing this market and will be providing further advice to DHSC on action that can be taken.”

In May, Boots UK launched an at-home Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which the multiple currently sells to customers for £65 across 500 stores.


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