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Published on Thursday, June 10, 2021

Which? says Covid test providers are misleading travellers






A Which? investigation has found misleading prices and false information being advertised on the government's list of travel test providers.


It investigated some of the companies on the government's testing for travel list that claimed to offer some of the most affordable services.


Which? looked at the 10 cheapest providers of tests for people entering the UK from an amber list country at the end of May, with prices being listed between £60 to £98.


However, tests listed among the cheapest providers turned out to be much more expensive than their initial listings suggested, while others were simply unobtainable.


On 25 May, the three cheapest providers on the list for entry into the UK appeared to be Biograd Diagnostics (£60), Screen4 (£60) and Book A Travel Test (£79.99).


If found that these prices were either for booking one at-home test, or for booking a single test carried out in a clinic, rather than both Day 2 and Day 8 tests that are required for returning from an amber list country.


After Which? contacted the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the prices for tests from these providers were amended to show prices ranging from £100 to £160, meaning the three companies no longer appeared in the top 10 cheapest providers.


Both Biograd Diagnostics and Screen4 blamed how the DHSC recorded price information, suggesting that the incorrect prices had been listed by DHSC.


Which? also uncovered test providers listed on the government's website that were not actually offering testing services at the time they were listed.


At the beginning of June, the list included five providers - 01 Test, 1010 Labs, Expert Medicals, Nationwide Testing, and Star Medicals - that appeared to be linked, with almost identically worded refund policies, and Expert Medicals telling Which? they were due to begin working with three of the four other labs, raising questions about competition between providers and the impact on consumers' ability to make informed choices.


After Which? asked DHSC why companies that couldn't yet provide tests were on the list, 01 Test, Nationwide Testing and Star Medicals were all subsequently removed.


Which? is calling for the government to not only explore options for reducing the cost of testing across the board, through solutions such as introducing a price cap as other countries in Europe have done, but to urgently ensure all providers are accredited,.


Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, 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."


"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."

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