Ticket Agents in the UK – Office of Fair Trading (2005)
Author(s): Office of Fair Trading
Organisation/Affiliation: UK Government
Date: January 2005
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An overview of the services provided to consumers by ticket agents in the U.K. Contains overall figures for ticket sales and the split between primary and secondary sellers.
The value of advance ticket sales in 2003 was approximately £1.4 billion. Of this, around £580 million were sales made through primary ticket agents.
Between 1999 and 2003, turnover grew by around 150% in real terms for reasons which include: an increase in the number of events held each year, consumer demand for greater convenience when booking a ticket and the increased use of the internet to buy tickets
The majority of consumers (86%) were satisfied with these services. 9% were dissatisfied.
Agents received over 54, 000 complaints in 2003. Of those that pertained to matters within the control of the agents (as opposed to, for example, matters pertaining to the venue or the performance) the main items of concern were:
– Additional fees – many people dislike paying the additional fees charged by primary ticket agents on top of the face value of the ticket, as they feel these fees are too high;
– Price information issues – pricing information is important if consumers are to make an informed choice, but key information is often not displayed in advertisements and is only available late in the buying process;
– Service and contractual issues – consumers are concerned about a range of service issues varying from the speed of transaction through to basic contractual issues, such as their rights following an event cancellation or the non-delivery of tickets;
– Secondary ticket agents – A high level of concern around the activities of secondary agents.
Secondary ticketing accounted for half of complaints to trading standards departments in relation to ticketing and 75% of complaints to the Office of Fair Trading.
The report does not find a lack of competition between ticket agents leading to higher prices to consumers.
The main pricing issue for consumers is whether they receive adequate price information to make a more informed ticket purchase.
Recommends that the Committee on Advertising Practice amend its guidance so all non-broadcast event advertising is required to include the face value of the ticket, while indicating that additional fees may apply and could vary depending upon the sales channel and ticket seller used and that advertising indicates where tickets can be purchased at face value.
Recommends that the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) produce model terms for its members.
Notes the main problems with secondary ticketing market that are potential breaches of consumer protection legislation – including:
– consumers not being made aware of, or being misled about, the face value of the ticket, and thereby the size of premium they are paying, and finding out only after they have made the purchase;
– consumers being misled about the seat location (such as a severely restricted view);
– consumers not receiving pre-paid tickets.