Major PCR testing company under investigation by competition chiefs

·2-min read
A PCR testing company is under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)
A PCR testing company is under investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (Jane Barlow/PA) (PA Archive)

One of the UK’s biggest PCR testing companies is under investigation by the competition watchdog following a series of complaints by customers.

Expert Medicals faces allegations that tests and results were not provided in a timely manner, or at all in some cases, bosses failed to respond to complaints and refunds were not issued, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The watchdog also revealed it has written to a further 19 testing firms telling them they must stop advertising misleading prices or face legal action under consumer protection laws.

Our actions today are the next steps in our work to ensure the PCR testing market works for consumers and we are preparing to take further action in this sector

Andrea Coscelli, CMA

CMA officials revealed Expert Medicals has been the subject of a high number of complaints, both to Citizens Advice and themselves, and has been removed from the Government’s list of testing providers.

Those appearing on the list must self-declare that they meet the Government’s minimum standards for Covid-19 testing.

Last week ministers announced they would be advising 82 companies they face being removed from the Gov.uk list if they advertise misleading prices.

Of the 19 firms warned directly by the CMA, the organisation said it was concerned the businesses “falsely advertise tests at very low prices when they are either not available at that price or include hidden conditions, such as where the tests must be collected from”.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Millions of people have to buy PCR tests in order to travel.

“If we find that firms have been misleading customers and failing to provide the service that people have paid for, we stand ready to take action.

“Our actions today are the next steps in our work to ensure the PCR testing market works for consumers and we are preparing to take further action in this sector.”

The action comes after the CMA sent an open letter to PCR test providers last week warning that a range of harmful practices in the sector could breach consumer protection law.

In the letter, officials said firms must not advertise upfront prices for tests which do not include additional charges that everyone must pay and should avoid advertising cheap PCR tests which are only actually available in very small quantities or are not available at all.

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