McDonald’s customers will know how frustrating it is to walk into a restaurant and discover the ice cream machine isn’t working – and now this scenario is reportedly the focus of America’s most senior consumer protection agency.
A report by the The Wall Street Journal claims that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking at McDonald’s broken ice cream machines.
It comes against a backdrop of the Biden administration studying whether manufacturers have been preventing owners from repairing products themselves.
McDonald’s soft service machines provide high volume output of its famous McFlurry desserts and milkshakes.
The WSJ claims that the FTC contacted McDonald’s franchise owners over the summer for information about the equipment following complaints that the machines are complicated and require a technician to fix. They also need frequent cleanings that can take four hours.
Last year, a software engineer in the US launched a website tracking McDonald’s restaurants where the machines are out of order.
And McDonald’s has even poked fun at itself over the issue, too. In August 2020, it tweeted: “We have a joke about our soft serve machine but we’re worried it won’t work.”
McDonald’s told Catering Insight USA that it recognises it is “frustrating” for customers when its soft serve machines are down and had built a dedicated team to help it serve desserts more consistently.
It is also introducing a variety of new solutions, including new training resources for crew members and regular maintenance ‘check-ups’ to help keep machines running smoothly.
A spokesperson for the chain said it did not believe it was the subject of an FTC probe.
“Intrinsic to the interest in our soft serve machines is our fans’ love of McDonald’s iconic McFlurry desserts and shakes. Nothing is more important to us than delivering on our high standards for food quality and safety, which is why we work with fully vetted partners that can reliably provide safe solutions at scale. McDonald’s has no reason to believe we are the focus of an FTC investigation.”
The FTC said that it does not comment on media reports about investigations.