The CMA  (Competition and Markets Authority) has issued an open letter to PCR Covid-19 test providers, warning that a number of harmful practices in the industry may violate consumer protection law.

The move follows the removal of more than 50 test providers from the official list after it was discovered that they did not exist.

There are also concerns that businesses are advertising low-cost PCR tests that are only available in very small quantities or not at all, or that they are failing to deliver PCR tests or provide results within stated time frames, if at all.

The CMA has also discovered evidence of testers refusing to issue refunds to customers when tests are not completed within the stated and/or agreed-upon time frames, or at all.

The CMA letter directs PCR test providers to ‘immediately assess their methods and policies to ensure they are in conformity with the requirements of consumer law and to make any necessary changes.’

“PCR test providers should be in no doubt that they need to get on the right side of the law,” said The Competition and Markets Authority general counsel Sarah Cardell. If they don’t, they risk being fined.

“Today’s advice will also benefit people by outlining exactly what they should anticipate for their money.

“This warning complements the government’s action this week and is the latest move in our efforts to combat rip-off prices and poor service.

“We continue to work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in examining this market, and we will provide additional advice to DHSC on actions that can be taken.”

The letter outlines 11 steps providers should take, such as not focusing their advertising on low-cost tests that are only available in limited quantities; showing the full cost of tests, including all mandatory charges; and providing ‘honest, accurate, and clear’ timeframes for when tests will be received.