U.S. Government Steps In to Save McDonald’s Ice Cream Fans

An exemption could finally allow McDonald’s franchisees to fix the ice cream machines.
March 20, 2024
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broken McDonald's ice cream machine

A couple of years ago, a YouTube video by Johnny Harris, an investigative journalist, went viral on the real reason McDonald’s ice cream machines are always broken.

Simply put, it’s because they are designed to be broken.

McDonald’s corporate signed an exclusive agreement with Taylor, the industrial vendor behind McDonald’s ice cream machines, that gives them the only authorization to repair and maintain the machines.

When the ice cream machine breaks, McDonald’s franchise owners are forced to call Taylor technicians because the obscure error codes the machine produces give them no clear reason why the machine is broken. As you might expect, Taylor charges an arm and a leg to service the machines—$350 per 15 minutes.

Taylor has a repair monopoly on the faulty machines they provide to McDonald’s.

Well, McDonald’s ice cream fans rejoice: U.S. government agencies have asked the US Copyright Office to exempt "commercial soft serve machines" from the anti-circumvention rules of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). An exemption would give McDonald’s franchise owners more choices for third-party and self-repair.

Wait…why hasn’t McDonald’s corporate done anything to fix this?

Some people allege McDonald’s is getting a kickback – payment or other things of value that vendors give corporations to secure a contract – from Taylor.

Meanwhile, this is happening with franchises in other industries. Holiday Inn franchisees sued their parent corporation, Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHC), for an alleged kickback scheme that requires them to use specific vendors for hotel upgrades in which IHC receives payments for the construction work.

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