Should I Book My Cheap PCR Covid-19 Test With Randox, Express Test Or Another Company?
Choosing a trustworthy and affordable testing provider is a crucial part of your holiday planning checklist. But the government’s list of hundreds of providers gives no indication of quality, so we’ve examined the price, refund policies, and customer service reviews of some of the most popular test providers to help you decide.
Factors like fair pricing, refunds, and the ability to keep up with demand aren’t a requirement for addition to the list of accredited government providers. As a result, thousands of people have had tests fail to arrive on time, meaning longer stints in quarantine or worse, being refused entry to their flight.
To help pick a good test company ahead of a trip abroad, Which? Has done the legwork to help inform your research. Below we share our tips on how to choose a good provider, and which firms you should consider.
Seven things to check before you book
Make sure you’re up to date with your destination’s entry requirements and confirm the exact test needed (including the sensitivity and specificity of the test).
Is it an accredited provider?A company having easy-to-access information about their UKAS (The United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accreditation status is usually a good sign. You can look to see whether the company is accredited by UKAS) here. All companies which appear on the government’s list of providers are at the very least “going through the 3-stage UKAS accreditation process” and considered partially accredited.
Do bear in mind that companies can initially self-declare that they meet the government’s minimum requirements for four weeks before moving onto ‘stage two’. Currently only around 60 of companies on the government’s list of over 400 providers are fully UKAS accredited (i.E. At ‘stage three’).
Does it grant refunds?Not only do fair refund policies mean your money is safe if your travel plans change, but they are a good indicator that the company is confident it can provide the service. You might also want to check the notice requirements for a refund. For example, some firms will refund up to 24 hours prior to a testing appointment, while others may expect a week’s notice if your holiday is cancelled. Remember to watch out for admin fees, too.
Which? Also looked for companies that offered timeframe guarantees, and refunds in the event that test results weren’t delivered on-time. C19 Testing was the only company we found which refunded customers if their ‘under 24 hours’ deadline was not met for outbound ‘fit to fly’ PCR results and day 5 test to release results.
Find a company that limits sales for on time deliveryYour test provider should be confident it can meet demand and deliver tests back on time. One way to check they’re taking precautions is to look on their website and FAQs to note whether they limit the number of at-home tests sold, such as Testing for All. The site might also list certain options as ‘sold out’, which can be another indication of good stock monitoring.
Look for discounts from your tour op/airlineMany airlines and tour operators have partnered with test providers to offer cheaper tests. Some, such as First Choice say they have vetted the testing companies they recommend. Knowing your tour operator recommends a company – especially if the operator guarantees a fee free amendment for your holiday when tests are not returned on time ahead of departure adds some reassurance.
Consider delivery/in person for speed purposesIf you’re nervous about calculating the time frames for tests, or anticipate complications attempting a test at home, visit a clinic instead. This is not necessarily more expensive.
Check social media reviewsSocial media is the best way to get an idea of customer experiences. We took into account whether each company had an established Facebook page, and if so, its review rating out of 5 (when displayed). A page’s rating is based on reviews and recommendations from the public, and only Facebook pages that allow recommendations (and have enough of them) can show a rating. So, lack of a decent rating could be a red flag.
We also searched for each firm on Twitter and counted the number of negative reviews appearing on the ‘Latest’ page for each set of results, detailing the timeframes for each. A shorter timeframe may indicate a higher number of recent complaints overall for the company.
Which? Has not yet reviewed any of these companies, and therefore does not endorse any of the providers. The below information is intended to help inform your own research.
Who would Which? Travel experts book with?
Of the companies we looked into, C19 Testing and Testing For All stood out. C19’s comprehensive refund policy suggests a confidence in its ability to meet fulfil customer orders, which should in turn offer peace of mind. Testing For All limits sales to meet demand and deadlines and has mostly positive customer reviews on social media.