Andrea Coscelli, chief executive at the CMA

The competition watchdog has opened a formal investigation into a “possible breach of consumer law” by one of the largest private PCR test providers.

It has launched probe into Expert Medicals following complaints, but the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has not yet made any decision on whether the company has broken the law.

The allegations against Expert Medicals are that it has not provided tests and results in a timely manner or at all; has failed to respond to customer complaints; and has refused to issue refunds when due.

The firm has been the subject of numerous complaints both to Citizens Advice and more recently to the CMA.

It no longer appears on the list of testing providers who self-declare that they meet the government’s minimum standards for Covid-19 testing.

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive at the CMA, said: “Millions of people have to buy PCR tests in order to travel. If we find that firms have been misleading customers and failing to provide the service that people have paid for, we stand ready to take action.

“Our actions today are the next steps in our work to ensure the PCR testing market works for consumers and we are preparing to take further action in this sector.”

The CMA has written to 19 more test providers warning them to improve their pricing information or risk action in the future.

It expressed concerns that the 19 firms continue to falsely advertise tests at very low prices and hide information conditions, such as where the tests must be collected from.

This move comes after the CMA sent an open letter to PCR test providers on August 25 warning that a range of harmful practices in the sector could breach consumer protection law.

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