International travel: holidaymakers at mercy of ‘rogue’ test providers, says Which?

The consumer group has said there are ‘serious problems’ with private Covid testing firms after it carried out an investigation

A number of test providers on a government approved list are offering misleading information about pricing, Which? found (Getty Images)

Holidaymakers risk being left “at the mercy of rogue operators”, as consumer group Which? says there are “serious problems” with private Covid testing firms.

An investigation carried out by Which? found a number of test providers on a government-approved list are giving out misleading information about prices and availability.

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At a glance: 5 key points

- Several tests listed online turned out to be much more expensive than their listings suggested

- Analysis of the three cheapest listings on 25 May found prices ranged from £60 to £79.99 - but those prices were actually for single tests

- Some firms listed on the government’s website were not offering testing services at that time, Which? found

- The consumer group has claimed the investigation shows “serious flaws” with the current testing system

- The Department for Health has said it was carefully monitoring test providers.

What’s been said

"Weeks on from some international travel being allowed to resume, it's very concerning to still be uncovering such serious problems with the government's testing system for travellers - problems that could have easily been ironed out well ahead of travel restarting, had proper regulatory oversight been ensured early on.

"As it stands, travellers risk being left at the mercy of rogue operators who, at best, attempt to profiteer off of those looking for testing services to allow them to travel, and, at worst, risk leaving them out of pocket for services that don't even exist.

"The government needs to urgently sort out these problems before mass travel resumes, or it will create chaos for travellers who have to rely on the system."

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel magazine

"Providers who do not meet the minimum standards set by DHSC and reviewed by the independent United Kingdom Accreditation Service, or where our monitoring highlights concerns about their customer service performance, are removed from the gov.uk travel test list.

"Additionally, providers may not appear on the list where they are temporarily out of stock."

Response from Department of Health and Social Care spokesman

Background

Travellers returning to the UK from an amber list country under the traffic light system need to pre-book PCR tests for day two and day eight after their return.

But problems with private test providers first emerged in April when the number of people travelling increased.

A number of government-approved companies failed to deliver test kits on time or failed to return results, leaving some people stuck quarantining at home unsure of how to meet the testing requirements.