The former chairman of the UK competition regulator has condemned the PCR testing market for travelers, calling it a “scam jungle”.
After the requirement to take tests on return from abroad was reimposed, Lord Tyrie accused the government of once again allowing companies offering PCR tests to manipulate the system by making them available at unrealistic prices.
“For this policy to get into trouble once, it could be considered a misfortune, but for it to resurface after all the summer warnings, it would have to be negligence,” he said. he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program. “It was a scandal that was waiting to happen and it has now happened and there is a need for very urgent action. “
Last week, the Guardian revealed that a slew of the cheapest PCR testing offers had been removed from the government website over fears travelers could be misled by companies advertising the testing service. of coronavirus for under £ 1.
Private companies offering second-day tests to travelers are listed on a government website for consumers to search for. However, most of the offers turned out not to be suitable for most travelers, as they were often only offered in one location, on limited dates, and only available to those who could attend in person.
“It seems that some of the worst practices – deceptive online ads, overpricing, unacceptably high service among these – are still prevalent,” said Tyrie, former head of the Competition and Markets Authority, and former chairman of the select treasury committee. .
“To allow this to continue during the Christmas rush hour would be outrageous. Other countries seem to have done better, we need to try harder.
Concerns over the price of the tests were raised again after the government announced that people arriving in the UK would have to take a PCR test before the end of their second day, as well as a pre-flight test.
The Laboratory and Testing Industry Organization, which works with ministers to ensure the UK testing industry meets high ethical and professional standards, said the government had failed to ‘enforce the accuracy’ of its list of suppliers .
A government spokesperson said: “We have made it clear that it is unacceptable for a private testing company to take advantage of vacationers. ”