Updated: CMA formally investigates one of largest PCR test providers

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened a formal investigation into a “possible breach of consumer law” by one of the largest private PCR test providers.

It has launched its probe into Expert Medicals after numerous complaints, but no decision has yet been made on whether the company is breaking the law.

The CMA said the allegations against Expert Medicals are that it has not provided tests and results in a timely manner or at all; has failed to respond to customer complaints; and has refused to issue refunds when due.

One of the largest providers of PCR travel tests in the UK this summer, the firm has been the subject of a high number of complaints to Citizens Advice and the CMA.

It now no longer appears on the list of testing providers who self-declare that they meet the government’s minimum standards for Covid-19 testing.

The CMA has also written to a further 19 test providers warning them to improve their pricing information or risk action in the future.

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The CMA is concerned that the 19 firms continue to 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.

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

In the CMA chief executive’s letter to the health secretary Sajid Javid on August 10, the regulator committed to providing the advice on the PCR testing market ‘within a month’.

It said on Friday (September 3) that an update will be provided shortly.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “We have received a significant number of complaints about Expert Medicals, which was only removed from the government’s list of private test providers this week after we reported them, so it is good the CMA has launched an investigation into whether its practices breach consumer law.

“Travellers should be able to rely on testing firms listed on the government’s website to provide a reliable and affordable service, but time and time again, people are complaining that they are not getting the service they are entitled to expect.

“The CMA should conduct its investigation swiftly and take strong action if the firm is found to have broken consumer law. Meanwhile, the government must remove any firms found to be charging misleading or excessive prices, or failing to provide a quality service to customers.”

Picture by Cryptographer/Shutterstock

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