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Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

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Hong Kong, China
posts: 17
reviews: 19
Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

Dear all,

Wanting to visit the Uffizi and Accademia in Florence, I searched in yahoo with the keyword "uffizi" and the first website that came up was "uffizi.com".

The name sounded pretty official I thought. The webpage was also pretty professional looking and it is NOT APPARENT at all that this is anything other than the museum's own website.

Warning: these websites are calculated to confuse you to think they are official. Their existence as a middle person is pointless because one can easily buy direct from the museum's official website. Thus confusing you makes it all easier for them to do business.

Prices were steep - tickets for 2 at the 2 museums plus 1 audio guide at each museum cost me almost 90 EUR. I naively thought that Italy was undergoing serious economic crisis and they had to rely on the tourist industry to save them, so the government has raised their prices to increase income - I was so wrong.

I received an email which said I will receive my vouchers ONE BUSINESS DAY later. (Which was unusual, most official websites confirm immediately!) There is also a disclaimer that if the museum tickets are sold out, the time slots that I chose will not be provided, instead, the closest available time slot will be given! (I thought that was suspicious too. I did not pay a fortune to NOT have a guarantee of entry at my desired time did I? if that's the case why don't I just go and line up outside the museums instead of going through the hassle of buying online?)

Needless to say, I wrote to the merchant's email address complaining the above demanding a full refund, and I have not gotten any reply.

So my advice to all is - MAKE SURE you only buy from the official website! Prices are cheaper (about half the price) and you are guaranteed entry!

And I would also like to seek advice from experts here - has anyone had the experience of buying vouchers from this same website? (Also trading as "Weekend in Italy") Are the vouchers legitimate? Did you get to enter the museum at your chosen time with no problem?

I am going to buy also from the official website if entry is not guaranteed.

I am also wondering if I should seek help from my credit card issuing bank - though it appears that they have already authorized the payment and they could only dispute with the merchant on my behalf. The thing is - I doubt if a merchant which created a misleading website would be happy to give you a full refund with no questions asked!

p.s. In hindsight, I was an idiot. However authentic the website looks, why would the government use "dotcom" as a domain name? And.. why would the website be in English?

Edited: 10:37 pm, March 22, 2012
Arlington, Texas
posts: 786
reviews: 71
1. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

I'm sorry you had that experience.

I always book my reservations through my hotel. I then just have to pick up my tickets at the museum.

My other suggestion is to check a familiar guidebook. Fodor's, Frommer's, DK Eyewitness or Rick Steves. These will have not only the phone numbers, but the official web addresses for museums, etc.

Deerfield, Illinois
posts: 103
2. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

or call them directly--the phone reservation system works best and it is easy!

Hong Kong, China
posts: 17
reviews: 19
3. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

You are right. My bad for not linking it through Tripadvisor!

I hope nobody else falls victim to these schemes!

Bedford, United...
posts: 5,414
reviews: 41
4. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

Just to remind everyone yet again, read this article before you think about booking.

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187893-c145508/Tusca…

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Rome, Amalfi
posts: 27,883
reviews: 10
5. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

Their website claims to have a Facebook page. Maybe you could look at it and see what's there.

http://uffizi.com/

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
posts: 6,986
reviews: 51
6. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

Sorry you got caught out. We do try to steer people in the right direction here and there is also an FAQ on this in the top questions section on the right. If it is any consolation Weekend a Firenze are legit and I have known others to have made the same mistake as you, but got into the museums as and when expected.

Hong Kong, China
posts: 17
reviews: 19
7. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

I really appreciate your useful reminder and contribution here on Tripadvisor. Although I use this website a lot, there is a tendency for me to focus on the text in the middle of the page and not notice what is on the right side.

From now on I will make good use of tips and advices on the right and hope that users of this website will do the same because it will save you lots of headaches!

Thanks for also letting me know that the agency is legit so at least I wouldn't have to worry about getting extra tickets. :)

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 58,212
reviews: 11
8. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

The problem is that "Uffizi" means "offices", and it is not possible to trade mark an ordinary word: anyone can use it.

In fact, most of these "official-looking" sites are legitimate in the sense that, although they charge more than the real official site, they do actually sell tickets.

Castellina in...
posts: 2,862
reviews: 8
9. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

"I am also wondering if I should seek help from my credit card issuing bank - though it appears that they have already authorized the payment and they could only dispute with the merchant on my behalf. "

You can definitely dispute it and ask for a chargeback even after payment has been processed - there's a time limit for chargebacks so make your complaint now. There's no guarantee that you'll win but you lose nothing by contacting your card company and laying out your complaint. Make sure you indicate that the merchant doesn't reply to your emails. The merchant has to respond to the card company otherwise he loses by default.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
posts: 58,212
reviews: 11
10. Re: Buy museum tickets at OFFICIAL websites only! Please advise!

The problem with seeking a refund from your credit card issuer is that all merchants are allowed to set their own prices for the services that they supply. Provided that the expensive web site actually supplies a valid ticket for Uffizi, there is no basis to request a refund.