In May, my partner and I travelled from France to the UK. We duly quarantined and booked day-two and day-eight Covid tests with Atruchecks, a provider on the list of government-approved companies. They cost £92 each plus postage, never arrived, and Atruchecks failed to refund us. We’ve since discovered dozens of others are reporting the same issue. How has it managed to get government approval?
One of those empty-handed “others” is MF of London, who didn’t receive his four day-two tests. “Numerous emails and web forms have gone unanswered,” he writes. “Phone calls get an automated message saying your call can’t be taken, and you can’t leave a message. The links on its website to its Facebook site are broken, or nonexistent.”
Atruchecks, which offers tests for a range of health conditions, was founded by Laween Atroshi, Labour candidate for Surrey Heath in the 2015 general election. Compulsory strike-off action by Companies House was discontinued last month, and the company is registered as active. Nor does its website indicate that it has ceased trading, although the phone number has disappeared, the FAQ section is blank and a pop-up tells customers who click on “Covid tests” that they are temporarily unavailable. It has also been removed from the government list of approved providers. Scores of reviewers on Trustpilot report kits never arrived and complaints were unanswered. Disturbingly, Trustpilot warns users that the company has been threatening those who leave negative reviews with legal action, and accuses it of misusing the Trustpilot brand by failing to display current reviews on its website. Atruchecks did not respond to a request for a comment.
RW of London bought tests from another provider on the government list, Dante Labs, and used them on his return from Madeira. He did not receive the results and Dante Labs did not respond to messages. “On a personal level, it’s a waste of £58,” he writes. “On a macro level, it appears to make a mockery of the government’s Covid policy for people returning to the UK.” Dante Labs refunded RW following intervention from the Observer. “Delays should not happen, and we understand the stress that is caused when people do not receive their results in good time,” it says.
Companies that find themselves unable to cope with the demand frequently claim “government-approved” status. However, providers on the list have merely self-declared they meet minimum standards, and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) states it does not endorse any of them. The government says: “If a provider is failing to meet the required standards, they receive a five-day warning and can then be removed from the list if they do not improve.”
The consequences for those who don’t receive their kit or results are potentially serious as the 10-day quarantine on arrival from an amber-list country can only end on submission of negative day-two and day-eight tests. Failure to submit results can incur a £2,000 penalty. DHSC points customers who are let down to trading standards.
Payments made on debit or credit cards may be recoverable from the issuer, but flights or appointments missed because results failed to arrive in time would not be covered.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions