RAT test price gougers need to ‘urgently explain’ $100 price tag: ACCC’s Rod Sims

Gumtree, eBay and Facebook banned the sale of RATs on their platforms, which later saw Airtasker become a popular marketplace for selling and buying tests.

Pharmacies are the worst offenders when it comes to raising prices for rapid tests, accounting for 47% of reports to the ACCC. Next come convenience stores, tobacconists and supermarkets (15%) and gas stations (15%).

Between late December and January 12, the maximum markup on RATs steadily increased from about $40 per test to $100.

The ACCC will ask any company charging more than $20 per test to explain the reasoning behind the cost, Mr Sims said.

“Our initial research suggests that a price of around $20 per test or more, regardless of packaging, may be difficult to justify based on average wholesale costs and these retailers should explain why the price is so high” , did he declare.

“Any test costing more than $30, even with supply constraints, is almost certainly overpriced and would appear to be taking advantage of current circumstances.”

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The ACCC also received reports that some retailers were refusing to provide receipts or providing incorrect receipts to customers purchasing rapid tests.

In one case, a receipt issued by a convenience store indicated the sale of a test as a “sandwich”, while other businesses required customers to pay cash or refused to issue receipts.

ACCC President Rod Sims warns that companies will have to justify why they charge more than $20 per rapid test.Credit:Edwina Pickles / AFR Summer

Mr Sims said the watchdog is “looking closely” at these reports. “Refusing to provide receipts when requested or for total purchases of $75 or more (excluding GST) is a breach of Australian consumer law,” he said. “Companies could face penalties for this behavior.”

Splitting test packs and reselling them individually is a “significant issue” facing the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Woolworths and Coles sell packs of RATs for no more than $15 per test. Priceline and Chemist Warehouse were contacted for comment but did not respond before publication.

Richard L. Militello