Finance professionals in Melbourne have used computer programs to scam the ballot system for tables at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck at Crown Resorts next year, scoring dozens of bookings while thousands of others missed out.
Last Monday night emails went out to 14,000 successful applicants amid 90,000 entries. As Business Insider reported last week, within hours a table of 2 was being offered on Gumtree for $2000, nearly double the $1050 price, despite the fact that Crown says the booking is not transferable.
Today, Fairfax Media revealed that a trio of Collins Street finance professionals hired an Asian IT expert to create a program to make 800 applications for tables.
It scored them 50 tables for between 2 and six guests, which are now being gifted to clients or onsold to colleagues at cost price.
The rort was possible because the third party Crown used to organise the ballot for tables did not record IP addresses, only email and phone contacts, and the trio were easily able to bypass the one-application per person limit. Crown says nearly 3000 applications were excluded from the ballot as multiple entries.
Another group secured 40 bookings, Fairfax claims, using a similar system, and has been scalping them to finance industry colleagues for a $500 profit per seat, and that others have also rorted the system to obtain multiple bookings.
While people who won tables to The Fat Duck, which is open at Crown for six months from February 2015, are expected to pay for the $525 per head bookings by the beginning of next week, the 14-day grace period has given scalpers the chance to onsell the bookings.
While restaurant booking scalping occurs in high demand cities such as New York, it’s relatively unheard of in Australia and Victoria’s anti-scalping legislation only covers specific, nominated sporting events such as the AFL grand final.
Heston Blumenthal is closing his restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, for six months for renovations, relocating his entire team to Crown Resorts for the half-year stint. The Melbourne site will then transform into new version of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, his top 10 restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental in London.
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