More than 80 private COVID-19 travel testing companies will be issued a warning as of Monday with two warnings that they could be removed from the official government-approved list for misleading prices if they fail to correct the discrepancies.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said his department has conducted a “quick review” of the price and service standards offered by approved testing companies of the mandatory day two and day eight test required by all international passengers entering Britain. also from India.
Among the providers listed on the official GOV.UK platform, it was found that 82 providers – accounting for about 18 percent in the list – showed lower prices than are available on their own website at checkout.
A total of 57 companies will be removed from the GOV.UK list as of Monday because they no longer exist or do not offer day two and day eight testing.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for a private testing company to take advantage of vacationers and today’s action curtails this cowboy behavior,” said Mr. Javid.
“57 companies will be removed from the GOV.UK list and a further 82 will receive a two-warning warning – if they ever advertise misleading prices again, they will walk away. We are also introducing regular sampling this week to ensure that that all private providers follow the rules and meet our high standards of transparency,” he said.
The official UK government platform will be updated to reflect the true cost of the tests, with warnings being given to businesses throughout the week that they will be removed if they advertise misleading prices again.
The Ministry of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that as part of its ongoing review, regular sampling will be introduced starting this week to ensure businesses are following the rules to ensure prices displayed are correct, providers are legitimate and companies have not changed their name to get back on the list.
The assessment findings will also be shared with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to support their own assessment of the market and align recommendations and actions.
The DHSC said the action will ensure consumers can rely on the testing providers listed on GOV.UK and only the most trusted ones are available.
Tests booked for travel with companies not listed can still be used for travel, provided those companies meet legal requirements.
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that passengers will be able to take advantage of cheaper travel test packages. From 13 August, the cost of NHS Test and Trace tests for international arrivals has been reduced from £88 to £68 for green or fully vaccinated amber arrivals, and from £170 to £136 for two tests for amber arrivals that have not been fully vaccinated.
India is now on the list of amber arrivals, with mandatory tests on day two and day eight after entering the UK.
Since the review of the tests began, the DHSC said it has analyzed and improved the processes for managing the private provider list at GOV.UK, including introducing stricter price controls.
Guidelines will be published for the market regarding pricing and service standards in due course, it added.