The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has expressed concerns about the rampant price gouging of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) following an analysis of consumer, retailer and supplier reports.
The analysis found that the retail price of RATs was often between $20 and $30 per test, with some priced as high as $100 each. This is despite wholesale pricing ranging between $3.95 and $11.45 a test, with prices having only increased since the initial days of reporting.
“At the extreme end, we have received reports or seen media coverage of tests costing up to $500 for two tests through online marketplaces, and over $70 per test through convenience stores, service stations and independent supermarkets, which is clearly outrageous,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
Camperdown resident Marie Barton visited a small supermarket close to her home and was shocked to find RATs being sold for $25 each after they’d been marked for $15 shortly before Christmas.
“It’s just thoughtless, selfish and opportunistic behaviour. Vulnerable people can’t stay safe and essential workers can’t do their jobs without affordable access to tests. There’s a flow-on effect,” Ms Barton told City Hub.
She reluctantly purchased three tests, which were given to her packaged in zip-lock bags and without instructions.
“It’s hard enough to find them to begin with.”
Emergent price gouging has followed the state government’s changes to testing requirements in late December and a drastic increase in COVID-19 case numbers since the start of January.
The Federal Government has repeatedly said that Australia will not be adopting the free RAT distribution models currently seen in the UK, Singapore and Germany. NSW has reported at least 20,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day since January 3, with 877 new cases today reported from the Sydney Local Health District, and two of 30 new deaths from the Inner West.
On Friday, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced that they had commenced investigations into RAT price gouging following referrals from the ACCC, warning individuals and businesses that they may face penalties if they’re found to have been selling tests for more than 20 per cent above the original retail purchase price.
“The AFP will use its full powers to crack down on RAT price gouging. Not only is price gouging of RATs unethical but it is illegal, and the AFP will use its significant resources to ensure it protects the public from the unlawful greed of others,’’ Assistant Commissioner Nigel Ryan said.
“Those who breach the law face penalties of up to 5 years [in] jail or a $66,000 fine. My message is clear. Do not risk jail time or a significant fine for a few extra dollars.”