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Travelers facing hours-long waits for BinaxNow's in-home COVID test

Aug. 08, 2021
7 min read
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Update 8/11/21: Wait times seem to be improving since we wrote this article. TPG's Zach Honig took two tests in the past couple of days and found a 9-minute hold (both times!) for a provider.


If you purchased Abbott's BinaxNow COVID-19 Home Test to get results under 15 minutes, you might want to consider alternative options.

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This CDC-approved, at-home rapid antigen test requires remote supervision over Zoom, but we've received many reports from travelers experiencing gruesomely long hours to get connected with a specialist.

"Trying to do it now from Italy, 336 minute wait time, unacceptable," said TPG Lounger Arie van Duijn.

TPG reader Frederike Podevin first used the BinaxNow kits a couple of months ago and was connected instantly. Then, he purchased another test in the last week and said, "I was waiting for 4 hours last night and got nervous I wouldn’t get a test done in time for my flight."

TPG's Zach Honig also faced long wait times to be connected to a technician. (Screenshot courtesy of eMed)

What's the holdup?

With the rise of the delta variant and summer travel levels reaching their peak, it's no wonder the BinaxNow tests have surged in popularity. TPG reached out to eMed Digital Healthcare for a statement, the company that administers the tests for Abbott.

"We can confirm that we are experiencing unusually high call volumes in great part due to increased infection numbers being reported. We are seeing a massive spike in testing. Our wait times are currently more than 2 hours," said Carlos Coreccha, chief communications officer and CMO at eMed. "Some users have reported wait times longer than what I just described above depending on internet connectivity and other factors that may not be associated with our service, including device types and individual settings. eMed’s technology is working as intended and to date, we have not experienced service interruption."

Screenshot courtesy of eMed.

Technological issues can contribute to your wait time in a major way. TPG Lounger Jennifer Rainey Singh was flying home from Athens (ATH) for her group of six, reporting that, "We each had to wait an hour, except in my case the first time I was connected to a proctor, they couldn’t hear or see me, so they just put me back at the beginning of the queue, meaning another hour wait. Then my webpage refreshed, which also put me back at the beginning of the queue. It ended up taking about three hours for me."

Coreccha confirmed that eMed is aware of this issue and is working to remedy the situation as fast as possible: "We are nearly doubling the number of Certified Guides in the next three days and expect testing queues to return to the fast connection times eMed is known for."

Don't wait until the last minute

If you purchased one of these at-home kits and need to present a negative result to board your flight, you should give yourself ample time to take your test (but within the given time frame). For example, if you're returning to the U.S. from an international country, you must get tested within three days of boarding your flight.

"Waiting until the day prior to a return flight is never advisable," stated Coreccha. "For those who do not have immediate testing needs, we recommend they try back at a later time to allow those who need immediate service to move faster through our system."

Testing is available in Spanish

If you're a Spanish-speaking customer, you may have better luck with hold times on the Spanish site. "To better serve our customers, testing is also available in Spanish at es.eMed.com," said Coreccha.

TPG lounger Andy Stinson experienced wait times well over two hours: "After waiting, the countdown went away and switched to please wait while we connect you with a guide," stated Stinson. "My wife finally called customer service who told us to log in to the Spanish site. Wait times were under 10 minutes, and the proctor spoke perfect English."

You may need to find alternative testing options

COVID-19 testing is much better than what it used to be even a year ago. If you're traveling internationally, you can likely find a rapid antigen or PCR test at the airport, local clinics or even your hotel.

TPG reader Veronica Barrio was traveling to Panama with four kids and purchased the six-pack for $150. "When we finally tried to set it up, they said there was a three-hour wait for each participant," said Barrio. "Since that would add up to an 18-hour wait, we decided to try local options."

Barrio eventually found a drive-up COVID test at a laboratory in Panama and received her results in less than two hours — at a reasonable cost of just $32 per test.

Meanwhile, TPG reader Cindy Levey just flew home from Athens, Greece. She stated, "You can get a rapid antigen test at the Athens airport for 20 euro. It is open 24/7. I did it at 11:45 p.m. when I landed from Mykonos, and there was no line. Results handed to me in 20 minutes."

Try to get a refund

According to eMed's cancellation policy on the site, "no cancellations of COVID-19 test kits can be accepted after the COVID-19 test kit has shipped and the Product should not be returned."

If you want to try your hand at requesting a refund, you'll need to contact eMed's Customer Support via the form at the bottom of the page and be able to provide proof of purchase. The site does note that if "your order has not shipped, you are eligible for a 100% refund."

However, if you haven't taken your test yet due to these long wait times, your kit has a 12-month shelf-life. If you can't get a refund another option could be to hold off until your next trip to use your test until eMed is able to sort through these issues.

"It really depends on the individual situation and customers are encouraged to contact our customer service department to find out about their options," said Coreccha. "They may also refer to eMed’s cancellation and refund policy on our site. We do encourage customers to hold on to unused tests as surely they will come in handy for upcoming trips, return to work and school or to rule out COVID-19 as we enter flu season."

If all else fails, you could potentially try to file a claim with your credit card company for undelivered services.

Related: How (and when) to dispute a credit card charge

Bottom line

While you may face long wait times right now, eMed says it's working to improve its service as swiftly as possible.

"I can tell you that from our CEO down, all of eMed, in addition to our Certified Guides department, we are all fielding calls and helping eMed customers test and receive their verified test results," said Coreccha.

Instead of risking it by leaving it down to the last second, begin your test as soon as possible and have a backup plan if the wait times make using the test impossible.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Abbott.com)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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