M.cDonald’s attaches great importance to cleanliness and reliability. As a rule, even people who take a critical view of the fast-food restaurants confirm that the hamburger chain meets these requirements – with the exception of one product: the McFlurry soft ice cream. Because surprisingly often the ice cream is not available because the ice machine is broken. Jokes and conspiracy theories are circulating in the United States that impale or interpret the vulnerability of the ice machines. McDonald’s once tweeted in a fit of glee last year, “We have a joke about our ice maker. But we’re afraid it won’t work. “
The McBroken website, programmed by a real Hamburg boy: the 25-year-old software developer Rashiq Zahid, shows that the matter is somewhat explosive. When he was still studying at the Berlin Technical University, he lived right next to a McDonald’s branch. By his own account, he is not a big fan of McFlurry, which is also sold as McSundae in Germany. But occasionally, usually after ten o’clock in the evening, on a hot summer’s day, Zahid grabbed an appetite for ice. Classic ice cream parlors were usually closed, but McDonald’s wasn’t yet. His anticipation for ice was regularly destroyed because the ice machine was broken. A year ago, the young programmer discovered that he could also order the ice cream online and thus save the trip if there was no ice cream.
An app reveals the (in) availability of the McFlurrys
Programming programmer. Zahid said it took two to three days to write an application that checks and mirrors the current state of McDonald’s ice cream machines across the United States. Every minute his app asked for McFlurrys for $ 18,752. Orders will be withdrawn in good time before they become payable. In the meantime, the app only asks every hour, Zahid told the FAZ: It covers the whole of the USA and Canada, but the program does not work for Germany at the moment. Zahid doesn’t earn any money with it either, donations barely cover the costs.
Currently, more than 11 percent of all McDonald’s soft ice cream machines are out of order in the USA, in New York it is one in four, in Philadelphia and Houston one in five and in Washington one in six. Zahid didn’t think much about it, he describes the development more as a kind of finger exercise. But he once cycled off McDonald’s branches in Berlin to find out whether his app provided correct information. He found himself confirmed. But he was surprised by the popularity: Thousands of people visit the website every day. It was inundated with letters from grateful American mothers. They are now avoiding disappointed children by checking that McDonald’s offers ice cream before they promise.
The story could end here if the astoundingly high rate of ice machines out of order in the US hadn’t called different actors on the scene, including America’s official consumer advocate. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Trade Commission FTC wrote a letter to McDonald’s franchisees to find out what the devices are all about. The FTC does not comment on the case. The consumer advocates have apparently become aware of a legal dispute that is giving the matter a new twist.
Legal action over repair dispute
Franchisees are clearly upset by the significant slump in sales that broken ice machines bring them. If the device does not work, the restaurant managers usually call service staff from Taylor, which makes most of the ice cream machines in McDonald’s branches. The working hours of the service staff are expensive and arouse the suspicion that Taylor’s ice machines are manufactured with predetermined breaking points in order to generate steady income with the service crew.
This was followed by the appearance of the start-up Kytch. It developed a device that helped repair the ice machines. This has saved restaurant managers expensive repair hours. Many branch operators booked the device. In May, Kytch sued Taylor. The ice machine company attempted to steal the intellectual property on the Kytch device using false flag private detectives and lawyers. She finally succeeded by employing a McDonald’s franchisee who helped to decide on the equipment in the organization. In fact, Taylor launched its own device with comparable capabilities, while McDonald’s encouraged its franchisees to forego the Kytch devices. Kytch sales collapsed.
Taylor defends himself against the allegation in the lawsuit: the real hacker is Kytch; the company sneaked into the ice machine software with its device. The judge in charge nevertheless ordered Taylor to return the Kytch devices. How the lawsuit will end is unclear.It could be that McDonald’s and its ice machine supplier have taken on a bigger opponent than they did with an ambitious start-up: President Joe Biden authorized the FTC in July to set new rules that make it easier for customers to repair their devices themselves.