CMA action secures improvements from leading PCR testing provider

  • Dante Labs to ensure that all refunds due to PCR test customers have been paid.
  • Latest PCR testing provider to improve its practices following CMA investigation.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has secured formal commitments – known as undertakings – from Dante Labs. The firm will complete its review of complaints from the summer and ensure people have received refunds if they tried to exercise their cancellations rights or if their test kits or results were provided late. Dante Labs has already refunded thousands of customers and, under the terms of the undertakings, any outstanding refunds must be paid within 21 days.

The commitments secured by the CMA also oblige Dante Labs to strengthen the protections for customers in its terms and conditions, improve customer service and provide clearer product information. The company has pledged to:

  • Advertise clear information about the services it provides, including the timeframes expected for test results to be delivered.
  • Ensure customers know their rights for cancellations and refunds.
  • Maintain a proper customer service system, which includes responding to complaints and queries in a helpful and timely way.
  • Provide the CMA with an update report in 3 months on its progress implementing all changes.

The CMA launched its investigation into Dante Labs in September 2021. This followed complaints that the firm had failed to provide test kits and results in a timely manner or at all; had failed to respond to customer complaints; and had refused to issue refunds where they were due.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive at the CMA, said:

No PCR testing firm is exempt from the rules and our action to secure these refunds and other changes shows that we will not tolerate poor business practices.

While travel rules to the UK may have changed, those people who still require PCR tests to travel abroad shouldn’t have to waste money on late results or tests that don’t arrive.

It is crucial that all PCR providers treat people fairly, being clear on price and timings and providing refunds where they are due.

The investigation into Dante Labs is part of a wider programme of work by the CMA to protect consumers buying PCR tests. In August 2021, the CMA published an open letter to PCR providers outlining how they should comply with consumer law.

The CMA has also sent letters to 25 PCR test providers, warning them to review their terms and conditions – and other practices – or risk enforcement action. This recently resulted in changes being secured from major PCR test provider Randox . The CMA currently has a formal investigation open into another PCR test provider, Expert Medicals, and will provide an update in due course.

In addition, the CMA has provided advice to the UK government on ways to make the PCR testing market work better for consumers. The recommendations included improving the basic standards to qualify for inclusion and remain on the GOV.UK list; monitoring providers on this list and swiftly removing, and sanctioning, those firms that don’t meet these standards; and adding information to enable consumers to compare providers properly and find the best deals for them.

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