Federal Trade Commission launches inquiry into why McDonald’s ice cream machines break down so often
The FTC is as annoyed as the rest of us that McDonald’s McFlurry ice cream machines always seem to be broken — and has reportedly launched an investigation.
The Federal Trade Commission reached out to McDonald’s franchisees over the summer to request information about its frequently broken machines, according to a letter sent by the Federal Trade Commission. Wall Street Journal.
Regular customers have been complaining for years that the machines often don’t work when they stop to pick up an ice cream.
A website called McBroken even tracks the number of broken McDonald’s ice cream machines across the country. As of Wednesday afternoon, 9.88 percent of them were offline.
And McDonald’s franchises have long complained about overcomplicated machines with cleaning cycles that can last up to four hours.
The National Owners Association, a group of franchisees, said in a message to owners in May: We are tired of being the butt of late night jokes. So do our customers and crews.’
The machines, made by Illinois-based kitchen appliance company Taylor, have many moving parts that get cold for ice, but hot for cleaning.
Failure to complete the cycle will render the machines unusable and may take months for a repairman to complete the repair.
The FTC is reportedly looking at how McDonald’s rates suppliers and equipment, including its temperamental ice cream machines, according to the Journal.
The FTC reportedly sent a letter earlier this summer to franchisees seeking information about why the machines always break.
A site called McBroken (pictured) shows customers which locations have working and broken machines to avoid the devastating disappointment of walking away without ice
But the investigation is in its early stages, according to the July letter, and “the existence of a preliminary investigation does not indicate that the FTC or its employees have found any wrongdoing.”
McDonald’s told the Journal it had no reason to believe it was being investigated by the FTC.
The investigation comes after the Biden administration announced plans to crack down on manufacturers who make machines that customers cannot repair themselves.
In July, the Biden administration announced that the government would promote competition among manufacturers, which will lower costs for consumers.
And Taylor’s exclusive repair deal could explain why the machines haven’t worked for so long, sparking an endless stream of grievances about missed McFlurries.
Taylor charges McDonald’s $18,000 per machine, forcing franchisees to use its own network of repair services wired.
A rival manufacturer has even claimed that Taylor’s made the machines with faulty software to increase profits from repair costs.
The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly launched an investigation into McDonald’s infamously broken ice cream machines
But a representative for Taylor told the Journal, “There’s no reason for us to intentionally design our equipment to be confusing or difficult to repair or hurt our operators.”
They added: “A lot of what’s being broadcast can be attributed to the lack of knowledge about the equipment and how they work in the restaurants. you need to make sure the machine is cleaned properly. The machines are constructed with many interconnected parts that have to operate in a complex environment and manner.’
Frustrated McDonald’s employees have even used “jumpers,” or small metal or plastic brackets that can be installed on the electrical pins on the back of the device, to bypass software that renders them useless unless cleaned, according to Motherboard.
McDonald’s ice cream machines, made by the Illinois-based company Taylor, are often broken. Ten percent of them will be offline in the US from Wednesday afternoon
Kytch, a California-based tech company, claims that the machines’ software contains “flawed code that caused the machines to malfunction” and released a patch that quickly fixed the problem.
Once the device, roughly the size of a booklet, is installed on the machine, workers can perform simple repairs via an app without having to wait for a Taylor-approved technician.
However, that did not go down well with Taylor’s executives, who told McDonald’s and its franchisees that the “Kytch device is dangerous,” the software maker claimed.
“These guys have done a really effective job of scaring off all our customers and investors, so we hope the public will support our cause in the name of justice, the right to repair and humanity,” Kytch co-founder Jeremy O’Sullivan told me. Motherboard.
Taylor built his own version of the patch to keep making money on repairs.
Taylor charges McDonald’s $18,000 per machine, forcing them to hire their own repairmen
Kytch accused Taylor of getting his appliances from a McDonald’s franchisee Motherboard.
But the company’s chief operating officer said it was seeking the Kytch device “to evaluate and assess the potential technology-related effects on our Soft Serve machine.”
“Like whether the radio frequency of the Kytch device would interfere with our software signal, or whether the Kytch device would drain our software’s power source and/or cause it to malfunction,” according to court documents.
That brought the ice cream sales war to a head when Kytch took Taylor to court for copying his device. A California judge issued a restraining order against Taylor on July 30.
Taylor was ordered to return all of his Kytch devices within 24 hours of the restraining order.
Outaged McFlurry machines have been the target of multiple jokes and complaints online
Kytch claims loss of sales because Taylor copies his product.
‘We still have some diehard customers who stay with us. Although there are few compared to what we once had before McDonald’s and Taylor called our product dangerous.”
McDonald’s did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com