Fat Duck ballot fail leaves a sour taste for some

Flaws in the ballot system for the iconic Fat Duck Melbourne restaurant have allowed scalpers to exploit the competition system and prevent some legitimate customers from getting a reservation.

The restaurant is only open for 6 months from February next year, so tickets were highly prized, with 89,179 entries registered.

Now, press articles about the opening are filled with negative stories about disappointed customers, rather than positive stories of those who won a table.

It looks like the competition system was easily gamed by IT experts, who are now scalping the tickets for high prices.

We should take this as a salient warning for businesses that competitions, although a wonderful marketing opportunity, can also cause issues if not well run.


What went wrong? The Fat Duck ballot system wasn’t set up to decline multiple entries from the same IP address, making it relatively easy to script up fake competition entries and submit hundreds (more likely thousands in total) of fake entries.  Simply checking for duplicate names and phone numbers wasn’t enough, and this should have been detected before they went live with the ballot.


It’s important to check your terms and conditions, processes and backend IT systems are all set up to minimise the potential risk to your organisation. Consider using an external service provider to run a second set of eyes over everything before you go public.



Bayside PC Services perform IT and process audits in Melbourne’s Bayside area.

Give us a call on 0408 314 814 or email on info@baysidepc.com.au for a confidential chat to see if we can help.