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ACCC Receive 120 RAT Price Complaints Each Day

The ACCC is being bombarded with consumer complaints regarding price gauging for rapid antigen tests across Australia, with 3,900 reports filed within the last 30 days.

Surprisingly, it’s pharmacies that have been the most-complained about sector, attracting 1,309 complaints, close to 34 per cent of reports.

Petrol stations (781 complaints, 20 per cent of reports) and convenience stores, tobacconists and supermarkets (764 complaints, almost 20 per cent) are also major culprits.

In an indication that the ACCC heavy crackdown is working, pharmacy complaints dropped to 25 per cent of total reports since mid-January.

Aussies are still paying between $20-$30 per test, however, with the average price of a test sitting at $24. Of course, these are just the ones that attracted complaints, skewing the figures somewhat.

Wholesale prices sit between $3.82 and $11.42 per test, showing an unconscionable markup. The ACCC reports: “Most pharmacies appear to be charging between $15 and $25, however there are outliers with much higher prices.”

“While $20 retail prices remain lower than the more extreme reports received by the ACCC, this is still an unusually high mark-up that in our view is very difficult to justify,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“We are looking at reports of single tests being sold for $30 or more from certain stores. For example, we have received many reports of high prices at a number of individual IGA Supermarkets and BP-branded petrol stations (133 and 72 complaints respectively, to 26 January 2022).

“However, I want to emphasise these complaints are limited to a small number of individual stores in these chains and that the majority of stores in those chains have not been the subject of complaints to us.

“We have contacted those chains, and will be engaging with the stores named in complaints to ask them to explain their prices so we can work out what’s going on.”

More than 50 test suppliers, major retailers and pharmacy chains have been probed by the ACCC to date.

“Community concerns about sales practices for rapid antigen tests remain very high, for good reason,” Sims said.

“We thank the consumers who have taken the time to pass on to us crucial information about what is happening in this market. These reports, and the public scrutiny, are helping to keep prices at lower levels than otherwise.

“Businesses now know we will be in touch very quickly if they choose to impose unjustifiably high mark-ups on rapid antigen tests, or make misleading statements to consumers.

“In view of the public interest in this issue, we will continue to name business chains whose stores are reported to have engaged in this conduct, and are working very closely with our fellow law enforcement agencies in this area, particularly in relation to individual stores.”

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