Sajid Javid promises crack down on ‘cowboy’ Covid travel testing providers over misleading prices

The Health Secretary said 82 private Covid testing firms have been given a warning over misleading prices

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More than 80 private Covid-10 testing companies are to be issued with a two-strike warning over misleading prices.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has promised to crack down on “cowboy” behaviour by firms found to be taking advantage of holidaymakers.

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‘Absolutely unacceptable’

Mr Javid said 82 private testing firms, which make up around 18 per cent of providers listed on the government website, have been given a warning over advertising misleading prices for testing kits.

A review conducted by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) discovered that the companies were displaying lower prices on the government website than customers would actually have to pay once they get to the checkout.

The difference between the advertised price and the checkout cost has been put down to companies being dishonest and misleading, with customers often faced with additional fees, such as delivery charges.

The firms face being removed from the government list if they fail to take action over their pricing within three days of strike one, as part of the new two-strike policy.

Meanwhile, some 57 companies will be removed from the list on Monday (23 August) as they no longer exist, or do not provide the relevant tests required for travellers returning to the UK from abroad.

The DHSC has said that the government website will be updated to reflect the true cost of the tests, and companies will be warned this week that they will be removed if they advertise misleading prices again.

Regular spot checks will also be introduced from Monday to ensure test providers are complying with the rules, including displaying accurate prices for testing kits.

The checks will also help to determine that providers are legitimate and have not changed their name to get back on the list.

Mr Javid said: “It is absolutely unacceptable for any private testing company to be taking advantage of holidaymakers and today’s action clamps down on this cowboy behaviour.

“Fifty seven firms will be removed from the list and a further 82 will be given a two-strike warning – if they advertise misleading prices ever again, they’re off.

“We are also introducing regular spot checks this week to make sure all private providers follow the rules and meet our high standards of transparency.”

Cost of PCR tests for travel under review

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is carrying out a review of the market following concerns about the high costs of PCR tests for travelling abroad.

The DHSC said it will share its findings from the review, adding that tests booked with companies that are not on the government website list can still be used for travel abroad, providing these firms meet the legal requirements.

The government said earlier this month that the cost of NHS Test and Trace tests for international travel would be reduced, going down from £88 to £68 for those returning to England from green list countries.

The reduced cost will also apply to arrivals returning from amber list countries who are fully vaccinated.

Those who have not received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine will see costs reduced from £170 to £136 for two tests, to be taken on day two and day eight of their arrival from abroad.

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