FTC leak reveals interest in broken McDonald's ice cream machines

Every McDonald's restaurant has an ice cream machine, but whether you can actually order anything involving the cold treat is a gamble. It's well-known that McDonald's ice cream machines are often 'not working right now' when someone tries to order, an issue that may have more to do with long repair wait times than employees who simply don't want to re-clean them.

The frequency with which McDonald's ice cream machines are broken has led to many jokes, as well as at least one tool to track which stores have functional machines at any given time. The driving force behind this issue is allegedly a type of ice cream machine that is able to handle the milkshake and ice cream demands of a busy restaurant, but with temperamental needs that lead to frequent servicing.

Wired published an investigation into the matter earlier this year, reporting that the machines are made by a company called Taylor and that, reportedly, the company doesn't make it possible for store owners to easily service the machines on their own. The editorial describes, for example, a 'secret menu' on the machines that allegedly aren't detailed in the machine's manual. Taylor, for its part, has denied that it makes its machines difficult to repair.

A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) now wants answers from McDonald's about its ice cream machines and why they are so often out of service. The report claims the FTC sent requests for information to McDonald's franchisees, also citing complaints from store owners about their struggles with the machines.

Of note, Taylor, the company behind McDonald's ice cream machines, allows the companies to fix the machines on their own but warns that doing so will also void their warranty. Insiders speaking to the WSJ indicate the FTC's interest in the machines — as well as other equipment used in these restaurants — may have to do with right-to-repair laws.

The report notes that the FTC's inquiry into the matter is preliminary at this time, that it hasn't necessarily found any "wrongdoing," and that ultimately nothing may result from the matter. No formal investigation has been opened at this time.