McDonald's ice cream machines are so frequently out of order, one McFlurry lover created a website to track which Golden Arches have working frozen dessert machines. The fast food chain's competitors have ribbed it over the broken ice cream machines, and McDonald's itself even got in on the joke last year.
A franchisee group, the National Owners Association, isn't laughing. "We are tired of being the butt of late night jokes," the group said in May. "So are our customers and crews." And the Federal Trade Commission doesn't think it's all that funny, either. "The FTC reached out to McDonald's franchisees this summer seeking information on what, exactly, is going on with the broken ice cream machine problem," The Wall Street Journal reports.
The FTC's investigation stems from the Biden administration's crackdown on companies that don't allow owners or third parties to repair their equipment, and a lawsuit from Kytch, a third-party add-on to the McDonald's ice cream machines that sends real-time alerts to owners if the machine is about to break down. The FTC wants to know how McDonald's evaluates suppliers and equipment, and the circumstances in which owners can work on their own ice cream dispensers and other machines, the Journal reports.
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The FTC letter told the franchisees the inquiry is in its early stages and "the existence of a preliminary investigation does not indicate the FTC or its staff have found any wrongdoing." Kytch and Taylor Commercial Foodservice, the primary company that makes McDonald's ice cream machines, told the Journal they have not been contacted by the FTC. McDonald's told USA Today it has "no reason to believe we are the focus of an FTC investigation."
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