UK PCR testing provider Randox has responded to concerns over its terms and conditions raised by the competition watchdog.
The company agreed to improve its terms on cancellations, refunds and liability, following discussions with the Competition and Markets Authority.
The CMA has also sent letters to 25 PCR providers, warning them to review their terms and conditions – and other practices – or risk facing enforcement action.
It currently has formal investigations open into two PCR providers, Expert Medicals and Dante Labs.
The CMA raised concerns with Randox – one of the largest providers in the sector – as part of its ongoing engagement in the PCR tests sector.
Randox has reviewed its terms and conditions and changed them to:
- Give clearer information to customers, in particular on when it will provide PCR tests and results
- Improve notification of customers’ legal rights on cancellations and refunds, for example making it clear they have a right to a ‘cooling off’ period
- Remove terms that could suggest customers aren’t entitled to compensation if things go wrong
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “With recent changes to the rules for travel, the spotlight is once again on PCR testing providers and their practices.
“I am pleased that Randox has agreed to change its terms, which means consumers benefit from their legal rights to cancel and get a refund, and are not stopped from pursuing compensation if there is a problem.
“However, it’s essential that all companies play by the rules and treat people fairly. We are clear that, if they fail to do so, they risk facing enforcement action from the CMA or Trading Standards.
“We recently provided recommendations to government on changes to better protect consumers in this market and we hope that, given the re-introduction of PCR testing for travellers, these will be implemented as quickly as possible.”
The CMA published an open letter to providers in August, outlining how they should comply with consumer law. Practices of concern included:
- Advertising up-front prices for PCR tests which do not include additional charges
- Advertising cheap PCR tests which are only actually available in very small quantities or not at all
- Failing to deliver PCR tests or provide results within stated timescales
- Refusing to provide people with refunds where tests are not provided within advertised or agreed timescales
A Randox spokesperson said: “We welcome the role played by the CMA, with our full co-operation, in ensuring that consumers continue to get a fair deal during the Covid emergency.
“Randox has been happy to engage fully with the CMA from the outset to ensure in the interests of its customers while the company delivers millions of Covid-19 PCR tests to facilitate vital international travel against the changing requirements of governments.
“As the industry leader, Randox has been in the ideal position to both review the services required to support the international traveller and provide a consumer-industry standard of terms and conditions. These have, of necessity, evolved over time.
“In working with the CMA, Randox’s aim has been to ensure absolute fairness whilst building and providing critical services in a highly volatile and demanding environment”.