free rapid tests

Walmart drops minimum $35 purchase for free rapid tests after angry outcry

Ontario is providing free rapid antigen test kits to members of the general public, but Walmart didn't seem to get the memo that they are meant to be free of charge — not a way to lure customers to spend.

Ontario just announced that it will be distributing five million rapid tests each week for eight weeks through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province.

Walmart was slated to get the test kits but, at first, decided to offer them online only and customers had to order a minimum of $35 of goods to get them. 

free rapid tests

Walmart advertised the tests on their website with the minimum order requirement.

"We're proud to step up and do our part to ensure more people have access to rapid antigen tests," the box store wrote on their webpage.

"Along with other retailers, we're proud to partner with the provincial government. After careful consideration, we feel this is the safest and most efficient way to distribute the limited supply to our customers in a fair and equitable manner."

Walmart changed their website by Wednesday night, however, removing the reference to the minimum order. The website now says: "receive one free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit with their order at the point of pickup." 

The minimum charge requirement caught the attention of the NDP who quickly issued a statement against the plan.

"This is a tool in the fight against COVID-19. Not a prize in the bottom of the cereal box, and not a promotional item to help multi-billion-dollar big-box empires draw more customers in," NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh said in a statement Wednesday.

It also sent several people to their keyboards lashing out with angry tweets.

"No business especially large business like Walmart should be making people buy something," one person wrote. "It's not like Walmart purchased the test."

"Why is @WalmartCanada requiring a minimum online grocery purchase to get a free Covid test?" another person wrote. "These were handed out to them for FREE for distribution. They should be ashamed and forced to REFUND all profits."

Walmart likely wouldn't have gotten tests if they kept the minimum charge. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford tweeted late Wednesday afternoon that the rapid tests are meant to be "free of charge and all participating partners are expected to honour that — no minimums or mandatory purchase."

"If they don't, we'll give them to retailers or pharmacies that will.”

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