Health Secretary Sajid Javid has asked for a ‘rapid high-level’ review of private PCR tests amid claims customers are being ripped off.
He’s asked the competition watchdog to assess what action can be taken to make sure holidaymakers ‘do not face unnecessarily high costs or other poor provision’.
His letter to the Competition and Markets Authority follows increasing complaints from passengers about ‘rip off’ pricing as well as delays in receiving test results, which have caused some to miss flights.
Passengers who’ve paid high prices for obligatory tests after returning from trips have also been forced to remain in self-isolation after their results failed to arrive within the promised timeframe.
Over the weekend, some tweeted photographs of testing drop off points over-flowing with day 2 samples. There’s no suggestion the firm involved has experienced any delays, but the photos show the sudden rise in demand.
PCR tests typically cost about £75 but travellers have complained of significant price differences and the levels of service from around 400 providers.
Families can end up paying hundreds of pounds for fit-to-fly and test-to-return kits, adding significantly to the cost of a holiday.
“The cost of PCR testing can act as a barrier, especially for families who want to travel together,” Mr Javid said in his letter to CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.
“It is not right if some families experience yet further disruption unnecessarily because of practices in the market for private travel tests.”
Consumer champion Which? welcomed Mr Javid’s call for an enquiry into private PCR tests, but complained of its delayed reaction to a problem that was highlighted months ago.
“While it is positive that the Competition and Markets Authority has been asked to examine the Covid test market, it is disappointing that it has taken so long for this issue to be investigated,” said Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland.
“The government must take action to ensure private testing for travel is affordable for all UK consumers – not just those who are better off.”