An irritating problem for McDonald’s McFlurry and soft serve ice cream fans is the constant breakdowns of the ice cream machines that dispense the frozen desserts.
For years, diners have cringed that they can’t buy a frozen treat at McDonald’s because the machine that makes the McFlurry is out of order. The machines, made by the Taylor Company, are said to be often out of service as they have to be taken apart every two weeks for cleaning, according to a Food & Wine report.
However, it could also be because the machines would require a mandatory daily four-hour pasteurization process, according to a June 5 report. CBS News report. Either way, that means a lot of downtime for those McFlurry machines.
So many machines are McBroken
The problem of out-of-order McDonald’s ice cream machines is so big that a website, McBroken.com, tracks the number of ice cream makers in the fast-food restaurant that are “out of order”. On June 5, the website reported that 11.07% of all McDonald’s ice cream makers were “broken.”
New York’s ice cream machines seemed to have the most problems as 26.53% of McDonald’s McFlurry machines in that city were not working, according to McBroken. San Diego had the second highest amount with 19.44% “broken”, followed by Philadelphia at 17.5%, Houston and San Jose, Calif., tied at 14.29%, Phoenix at 13.56% and Washington , DC, at 12.77%.
Now, if one of these $18,000 McDonald’s ice cream machines actually has a mechanical problem, not just a cleaning or required procedure, then a Taylor Certified Technician needs to service the machine, according to reports.
A small California tech startup known as Kytch in 2019 developed a diagnostic device that could fix problems with ice cream machines that would allow McDonald’s franchisees to bypass Taylor technicians and fix the machines themselves.
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In May 2021, Kych filed a complaint against Taylor for alleged tortious interference with contract and violation of the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act and McDonald’s franchisee Tyler Gamble for alleged breach of contract and violations of trade secrets law. The trial is still pending.
Kytch alleged in the lawsuit that Taylor and Gamble worked together to steal Kytch’s trade secrets, leading to Taylor’s decision to launch his own competing device that “nearly destroyed Kytch,” according to the lawsuit.
Beginning in 2003, Taylor began supplying ice cream machines to approximately 14,000 McDonald’s locations. The lawsuit alleges that Taylor designed the ice cream machine software so that only Taylor-certified technicians could service and repair the machines. In 2017 alone, 6,500 Taylor-certified technicians generated $80 million in parts and service revenue, according to the lawsuit.
Crack the software code
In April 2019, Kytch cracked the machines’ software code and used a proprietary combination of hardware, software and machine learning to troubleshoot the machines, according to the lawsuit. Kytch said he discovered faulty code allegedly designed by Taylor that caused the machines to malfunction.
Kytch in the lawsuit alleged that he discovered a repair racket. He said a number of Taylor’s customers at McDonald’s have reported that Taylor technicians made unauthorized modifications to software that frequently resulted in costly and unnecessary repairs. Before Kytch developed his device, only Taylor-certified technicians had the tools and know-how to navigate the machines’ operations and volatile software, according to the lawsuit.
McDonald’s claims the Kytch device is unauthorized equipment that Kytch never submitted to McDonald’s for safety testing, he told CBS News in an email. McDonald’s called the lawsuit “baseless” and Taylor said the lawsuit was “based on false allegations,” according to CBS News.
Representatives for Taylor and McDonald’s were not immediately available for comment.