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