US | The McFlurry Mystery

The US Federal Trade Commission asked McDonald's franchisees for information on why the McFlurry machines are always broken and so hard to fix.

It turns out it's complicated.

McFlurries comprise 60 percent of the chain's dessert sales, but with approximately 11 percent of McDonald's ice cream machines are out of service, both McDonald's employees and customers have signed petitions for McDonald's to fix the problem.

The machinery is produced by Taylor Company, a foodservice equipment company that makes frozen dessert and cocktail machines and commercial freezers. McDonald's workers described the process for maintaining the machines as 'unnecessarily complicated' with an overnight cleaning cycle that often fails and requires a Taylor repair person to fix.

Taylor defended itself by saying the problems are due to employees not understanding the equipment and its operation.

The issues have been going on for so long that in 2017 McDonald's announced a new contract with Carpigiani, an Italian ice cream machine company, allowing franchisees to choose which vendor they work with.

Some franchisees took it upon themselves to find external solutions to their broken machines, including Kytch Inc., which developed a device that can provide real-time analytics and AI-powered maintenance when attached to an ice cream machine.

In May, Kytch sued Taylor, accusing it of monopolising the repairs of the machine and not allowing customers to use outside sources to fix them.

Taylor responded by claiming Kytch devices could cause serious human injury. In July, Kytch was the victor of one legal battle after it accused Taylor of obtaining a Kytch device to steal trade secrets.

Whilst Taylor denied it was trying to copy Kytch for its own purposes, it admitted to procuring a Kytch device to evaluate and assess any technological impacts it could have on the soft serve machine.

Taylor was forced to surrender all Kytch devices.

Kytch co-founder Jeremy O'Sullivan said the company had lost many customers and investors after McDonald's and Taylor called its products dangerous.

Taylor has claimed it does not prohibit franchisees from repairing its machines with outside sources but warns doing so would void their warranty.