The Federal Trade Commission has quietly been investigating why McDonald’s ice cream machines are frequently broken, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The state of McDonald’s ice cream machines have long been late-night comedy fodder and there is even an online tracker that monitors ice cream machine outages in different cities.
But the FTC earlier this summer began reaching out to McDonald’s franchise owners seeking information on what is going on with the ice cream machines. The company’s ice cream machines make up about 60% of its dessert sales in the United States and repeated outages have led to petition drives demanding something be done.
“We are tired of being the butt of late night jokes. So are our customers and crews,” the National Owners Association, a group of franchisees, complained in May.
Right to repair:
The Biden administration is looking at right-to-repair restrictions that prevent franchisees from fixing products themselves, including phones and tractors and other equipment.
The FTC is looking at whether McDonald’s reviews the equipment and how often franchise owners are allowed to repair their own machines.
The FTC said in the letter the inquiry is preliminary and “the existence of a preliminary investigation does not indicate the FTC or its staff have found any wrongdoing.”
Franchise owners have long complained that the machines are overly complicated and fixing them is difficult.
“The machines require a nightly automated heat-cleaning cycle that can last up to four hours to destroy bacteria,” the Journal reported. “The cleaning cycle can fail, making the machines unusable until a repair technician can get them going again.”
McDonald’s says it’s working on it:
McDonald’s says it is working on the issue and understands the frustrations.
The company said it will introduce new training for crew members and regular maintenance checkups.
Some franchise owners have had to pay to train their staff to fix the machines while others have contacted the manufacturer or authorized repair companies.
”A lot of what’s been broadcasted can be attributed to the lack of knowledge about the equipment and how they operate in the restaurants,” Taylor Commercial Foodservice, an authorized repair company, told the Journal. When working with dairy products, “you have to make sure the machine is cleaned properly. The machines are built up with a lot of interconnecting parts that have to operate in a complex environment and manner.”