Britain's Office of Fair Trading is recommending the country's ticketing industry shake-up its services in light of new research published on the sector.

Britain's Office of Fair Trading is recommending the country's ticketing industry shake-up its services in light of new research published on the sector.

Ticket buyers in the United Kingdom suffer from "a lack of clear price information, unclear contracts, and some mis-selling by secondary agents," the government agency said in its report, issued yesterday (Jan. 26).

It is the culmination of a fact-finding study the watchdog launched seven months ago after numerous complaints from consumers on the ticketing business.

Advanced ticket sales in the United Kingdom in 2003 generated about £1.4 billion ($2.63 billion), the report found. Of this, around £580 million ($1.09 billion) was sales made though "primary ticket agents."

The majority of surveyed consumers (86%) were found to be satisfied with the services of ticket agents. Of particular concern, however, the OFT says it registered a "relatively high" number of complaints on secondary agents, mostly concerning the mis-description of tickets and non-delivery of pre-paid tickets.

"Ticket agents can provide a better and fairer service for consumers," says OFT chairman John Vickers. "Clearer price information and the elimination of unfair contract terms would improve choice and value for the public."

The OFT research also found mark-ups as high as 600% on some tickets sold-on via the Internet. It presents an example of a ticket for Rod Stewart's performance in Birmingham last May which carried a face value of £50 ($94) but was available on ebay for £349 ($657).

The OFT also found that in 26% of purchases on the Internet, consumers were unable to find information such as when tickets are refundable or what happens if an event is canceled. It warned it can take legal action to prevent the use of what it deems as potentially "unfair" terms.

The amount of business through ticket agents increased 150% in real terms between 1999 and 2003, the report found.