back to article We all scream for ice cream – so why are McDonald's machines always broken?

Having won victories for iPhone and tractor owners alike, the right-to-repair crusaders at iFixit are turning to the really important stuff as summer enters its last death throes – ice cream. Leading on the worrying statistic that 10 percent of McDonald's ice cream machines are broken at any given moment, the teardown terrors …

  1. Flak
    Stop

    Limiting choice is anticompetitive

    We have seen this kind of behaviour so often:

    - Apple iPhone repairs (I had a screen repaired by a non-Apple outfit and Apple then refused to do a battery warranty swap)

    - HP printer ink

    - Electric car batteries

    - Cisco hardware, mandating Cisco SFPs (crazy prices!)

    I am sure others could add to this list almost endlessly.

    There is NO reason governments should allow this. Governments should set the rules. Those that permit this behaviour are protecting big business profits rather than representing the people.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

      > There is NO reason governments should allow this.

      But who elects the governments?

      These days, ordinary people have little say in the matter. The candidates are put forward along party interests. Lords, Representatives and Senators get their seats through service to Business, not the common people, and even individual votes are easily manipulated for the highest bidder by Google, Facebook and TikTok..

      There was a great documentary a couple of days ago by BBC storyville of how AI is being used for evil, although it was a bit too slow and heavy on the arty cinematics, could have been 60 mins instead of 90. I would have preferred that they spent the extra half hour going into more technical detail. But it was a good prequel to The Matrix or Deus Ex..

      I think the real reason that Right to Repair does not exist is because the big corps want to use "your" devices for surveiling and manipulating you. Ok perhaps not so much for ice cream machines and tractors, but phones doorbell cameras, cars, telescreens, PCs, anything that refuses to work without regular OTA updates could one day be used against you.

      A right to repair would imply a right to reveal and remove hidden antifeatures.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

        > I think the real reason that Right to Repair does not exist is because the big corps want to use "your" devices for surveiling and manipulating you.

        How about, they just want to make you pay for over-priced "official" parts and services, with a side-order of not letting you know all the hardware for their different models is the same, bar an identifying link and/or a magic number in the firmware that is, say, halving the maximum speed.

        That is a far simpler way to empty your wallet than surveilling you.

        1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

          Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

          Can't it be both?

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

      There is NO reason governments should allow this. Governments should set the rules.

      They are setting the rules. These rules implicitly (and in many cases, explicitly) allow for large, well-connected, fatass corporations to turn the repair of slipshod, crappy designs and implementations into a profit center.

      Those that permit this behaviour are protecting big business profits rather than representing the people.

      Well, DUH!! Can you say "Republican"? I knew you could...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

        So the current Democratic administration will be right on this, right? Right?

        1. Dinanziame Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

          As soon as the gridlock in Congress is fixed!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

            Where can you buy the parts to fix it?

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

              "Where can you buy the parts to fix it?"

              Many repair shops buy equipment that is too expensive to fix to have a parts source. This can work for laptops but not as well for tractors.

        2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

          Remember that the Democratic Party is more-or-less the right of the Conservative Party, and do expect much from them. The Republicans are somewhere between UKIP and <insert generic European fascist party here>.

          1. MyffyW Silver badge

            Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

            Business rules being slanted towards megacorps really isn't that much of a partisan issue, this is why our politics (in this sceptered isle) are broken as surely as they are in the United States.

            The real battle, this century, is between those who are open to reason and argument and those who are deaf and blind to any evidence that contradicts their petrified ideology.

            Turning this into a partisan point makes it less likely that any progress will be made.

            1. Duncan Macdonald
              Mushroom

              Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

              Winning a federal election (Congressman, Senator or President) requires the expenditure of far more money in advertising than will ever be paid in salary.

              As a result only the very rich or people sponsored by the very rich can be elected and the sponsors expect to get their money back in the form of laws and contracts that favor them.

              Therefore a lot of US law favors the rich and big businesses - anything that favors the ordinary people rather than the rich is unlikely to be passed (and if it is passed then it is likely to be delayed for a long time and watered down to have as little impact on the rich as possible).

              Icon for what should happen to politicians that abuse the public's trust (95%+ of senior politicians) ========>

          2. katrinab Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

            Or, more accurately, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is more or less the same as Jacob Rees Mogg in terms of politics.

            She, as far as I can gather is about the most left-wing person in the USA that has actually won an election, and Jacob Rees Mogg is about the most right-wing person in the UK that has won an election.

    3. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Limiting choice is anticompetitive

      Welcome to late stage capitalism.

      You could do things like have publicly funded campaigns (anyone who meets the requirements for the office can run and gets the same amount of money, which is, by law, the maximum amount they can spend, and no outside groups are allowed to fundraise, run ads for or against any particular politician) where you remove all corporate and oligarch influence, but... to quote the late George Carlin: We don't have time for rational solutions!

  2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    Car manufacturers should be made to share all their component catalogues and diagnostic software with the car owners.

    This is way beyond the John Deer example.

    I recently had to pay £350 at the Nissan dealer for a steering drag link bar , purely because I didnt have access to their software to find out the part number and which models its used on .

    With that information I could have got it elsewhere for 10% of that price.

    The diagnostic software is a whole other ransom situation , only partially ( 50%? ) alleviated by the ODBC2 diag standardisation rules.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      I'll see your £350 from Nissan, and I'll raise you £1,800 for two rear shock absorbers for my Land Cruiser. Direct from the Toyota dealer here in the UK.

      I ended up getting the same ones from a dealership in Australia, including the duty and the delivery, for £330 for the two of them.

      Toyota UK are fucking horrible to deal with if you need a part that's unobtainium from 3rd parties.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Thats shocking!

        Lemme add that , maybe not for dealer only , but for rare / foreign , or just 'extortionate in the UK' parts ... RockAuto are very good , on price , delivery speed , taxes , the whole deal

        https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/toyota,1989,land+cruiser,4.0l+l6,1276624,suspension,shock+/+strut,7556

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Car manufacturers should be made to share all their component catalogues and diagnostic software with the car owners.

      That would actually be simpler than you think. All details of all cars presently on the road (electronics, metal, construction, metrics, the works) are stored in a platform that used to be managed from near the Hauptbahnhof in Zürich, Switzerland by a company called Audatex - naturally they've been bought by a US company since. However, to go more public they'd have to change a few things, they have high levels of security because they also have the details of NEW cars that have not even been released yet, usually months ahead.

      If you ever wondered how a garage can cook up a repair estimate that quickly, it's their software that does the heavy lifting (and yes, AI has slipped in there too, I guess that's how it's building parts for Skynet). It saves insurance companies a fortune as the actual costs are in there as well as the amount of labour involved in fitting/replacing a component. Assessors now mainly tend to check if the repair shop hasn't added parts that are not needed, in general the software's assessment of cost is taken as reliable.

      So, getting actual, manufacturer provided data should not be that hard. I'm guessing the main challenge is working out who will make money off it..

      1. Dimmer Silver badge

        I was able to go online and get the shop and parts manual for my vehicle that was manufactured in USA/Mexico/Canada/Japan/China/Korea/GB . . .

        And using the odbc connection modify its behavior and the wiring diagrams to integrate my own cameras and recorder. (Dash cam)

        My wife’s car built in Germany. Not a chance to get the info.

        Difference is my truck is in the shop about 10% of the time. Her’s, is only ever there to Chang the oil.

    3. JT_3K

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying BMW are some sort of haven-paradise, and the time they tried to charge me £730 for a pair of rear brake pads and an oil change is testament to their practices. It's especially bad when you consider that their active cruise control brakes rear-biased for "stability reasons" wearing out the tiny pads extra quickly, but also that you need their computer to wind back the electro-mechanical rear calipers. Not that I'm bitter that when I asked them to justify, they said "well they have to reset the computer..."

      However, the enthusiast contingent *really* shows how it's done. Between the proliferation of (cough) access to the dealer-level tools with cheap AliExpress level cables and an old laptop, and the availability of parts info on RealOEM, everything from coding your car, finding the right part or resets after servicing are ridiculously accessible. Guidance is usually already there online for most gotchas and the community (particularly far-eastern countries with scary inital purchase tax but cheap parts) share retrofit guidance freely. I'm half-convinced that BMW don't crack down on this because they see the value of a passionate and engaged enthusiast community.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        when I asked them to justify, they said "well they have to reset the computer..."

        And that is the heart of the matter. Having a computer stop something working because a part failed or wore out of spec is one thing, but having an OEM only process to reset it back to normal operation once the affected part is replaced is the real problem. Often it's because the computer doesn't actually know or check if a part has failed or worn out of spec. It's just assuming that happened based on time and/or usage so "for your safety", they won't allow the user to hit the reset button themselves.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          having an OEM only process to reset it back to normal operation once the affected part is replaced is the real problem

          For cars that appears to be a problems solved. Enter ODCB in Amazon and you'll find reams of gear from kit that just reads the data from the bus to systems that allow full reprogramming of some to almost all bits of the car that cough up data and accept change as if they're a vending machine. For some you need to know what you're doing (as with all things that can kill you) but in general it appears that cars seem to have gotten better in this respect.

          That is, of course, until you get machines like Tesla where you apparently can't use parts from a breakers yard to fix them without consequences such as being locked out from the fast chargers. That will need some harsh love from legislators but in general cars have become accessible again.

      2. ckm5

        BMW has forced all third parties to remove any service information for modern vehicles off their platforms, which makes it incredibly more difficult (exponentially?) to get service instructions. That means that independent shops can't use services like AllData or Mitchells to get any sort of legal access to service info.

        The only way is to pay BMW a lot of money (it's around $15k/yr min) - a model most car companies are moving towards, not just BMW but they have been leaders in this. Or download potentially sketchy software from the internets, which may brick your car.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Windows

    Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

    So, this is McD corp selling hardware to franchises that is specifically locked down to not work properly all the time ?

    What business school told them that was a good idea ?

    Is that what MBAs are learning these days ?

    No wonder the economy is going to shit.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

      I think there is more to this than just what was in the ifixit vid. It is a good vid, don't get me wrong!

      It appears that to save on cleaning time and effort the machines heat cycle the 'product mix' to kill off any bugs. What I have read is that if there is too much mix in the machine it doesn't heat up fast enough or hot enough and trips the alarm. The alarm codes being utterly useless, as ifixit have shown, is then the next problem. And as someone says in the comments of the vid the machines get gummed up with baked on mix which causes more failures.

      The machine supplier makes an f-ing fortune from the callouts and McD's seem quite happy with this.

      It used to be the case that at the end of the day the machines would be drained, stripped and deep cleaned with hot water and disinfectant. McD's don't want to pay staff to do this or waste the mix that would go down the drain.

      To quote Scotty: the more complex the plumbing the easier it is to stop up the drain.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

        watching the vid, one of the common "breakdown" faults is something overheating and tripping out.

        But with obscure fault codes which remove agency from the user, the operator wouldn't know that solution was something like "Stirrer motor overheated, power down for 1 hour, then reset. If problem remains call maintenance" (and consider checking you're not blocking the vents) or "power supply overload. Do not use machine. Call maintenance"

        1. JT_3K

          Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

          As someone's alluded to further up, the majority issue is simply that it's overfilled. Whether it can be reset and mix removed or whether that causes further issues is different. The simple fact is that having worked fast food years ago, worker turnover and some level of lack of care amongst a contingent of staff lead to people doing what they can to get through. Whether it's a heavily overwhelmed member of staff ramming as much as they can in because they think they're not going to have to top it up again, someone trying to get a headstart on closing or someone that just can't be arsed to put the rest of the mix away afterwards, it's 95% of the time caused by overfilling. Franchisees and managers know this, and even may advise new staff not to overfill, but it gets done anyway. You probably get away with "a bit over the line" but how much is "a bit" and when does it burn out or trip part of the machine.

          1. collinsl Bronze badge

            Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

            I would then ask "why has someone made an industrial machine serviced by a constantly rotating pool of people which _can_ be overfilled?"

            Design that out of the machine and the problem goes away. Otherwise cynics would think they want it overfilled to generate callouts...

        2. ChoHag Silver badge

          Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

          PC LOAD LETTER

        3. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

          But with obscure fault codes which remove agency from the user, the operator wouldn't know that solution was something like "Stirrer motor overheated, power down for 1 hour, then reset. If problem remains call maintenance" (and consider checking you're not blocking the vents) or "power supply overload. Do not use machine. Call maintenance"

          But having a display capable of displaying that (as opposed to "EC402" in a 7-seglemt LED display) would probably add, say $2.00 to the build cost of the machine, and well, we can't have that, now can we? Won't somebody think of the margins?

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

            No problem, still display EC402 but have a book which lists those codes and the longer messages. You could digitize it into one HTML file with a bit of JS to jump to the code when entered. It wouldn't be the first manual to have an index of error codes. They're not doing it to save a bit on the screen. They're doing it to make a lot on resetting the computer, and the fact that they make enough on that to pay for people to travel to the restaurants and do it indicates that it's quite the profitable enterprise.

            1. collinsl Bronze badge

              Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

              Or put a sticker on the side of the machine showing the error codes

      2. J. Cook Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

        And to put an even finer point on it:

        Taylor and McDonald's corporate have had a very long relationship. The franchiser agreement stipulates that the franchisee MUST use Talyor machines. And since the average franchisee is running on razor thin margins to begin with, those $350 USD service callouts to reset the machine add up very quickly.

        That the machine can be hacked and made to do things that Taylor would not have approved of is trivial; a company did that in order to be able to provide franchisees with remote monitoring of the machines AND plain english error messages and how to reset them, and they were counter-sued into oblivion when they tried suing Taylor after they purchased one of the devices and breached the NDA that came with them. Part of that brach of contract lawsuit revealed some interesting under the table shenanigans with McDonald's corporate and Taylor.

        1. david 12 Silver badge

          Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

          and they were counter-sued into oblivion

          I'm not seeing any recent information: the Kytch website is still up, they had a restraining order on McD and Taylor, the court case is "pending", whatever that means.

          1. Fred Daggy Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

            It means that Maccas is trying to continue the case as long as possible and bleed Kytch dry.

            One would think that they have learned their lesson on that tactic. Nope, SOP. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McLibel_case

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

      > What business school told them that was a good idea ?

      The one that told them they'll make more $$$ servicing the machine than selling it.

      > No wonder the economy is going to shit.

      Yepper doodle.

      1. usbac Silver badge

        Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

        This is what happens when you shift from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

        Since we in the western world can't manufacture anything anymore (no skills, no one willing to work for $2.25 a day, etc.), everything is now based on how to make money screwing the customer for as long as possible. Building junk that breaks, and thus requiring lots of service, is the new model. Stuff just needs to work long enough to get through the warranty period.

        1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

          Wasn't it Dave Barry who observed you could sometimes fix a broken device by updating the warranty expiry date with a black marker?

          :)

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

      "What business school told them that was a good idea ?"

      Probably any/all of them.

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Wait, their milkshake maker works like an HP printer ?

      "So, this is McD corp selling hardware to franchises that is specifically locked down to not work properly all the time ?

      What business school told them that was a good idea ?"

      Most of McD's locations are owned by franchisees. The corporation strictly mandates the hardware and product so it's not a stretch to say that Taylor is paying a commission to Corporate on hardware sales to the franchisees and possibly a portion of the take on repairs/maintenance.

      It is a very stupid idea to have the machines going down and needing to be reset frequently. If a franchisee isn't making money, their next franchise might be something else. They may also decide that having the ice cream machines is useless and take them out. If they can't take them out, they will be permanently off-line to save money on power and ingredients.

      If I go to a McD's for an ice cream on a hot day and they are out of order, I'll go someplace else. If they are out of order a few times when I visit, I'll strike them off my mental list of places to go for an ice cream. Even in my small town, there's a few choices for soft serve. I will usually buy ice cream at the store and match it up with a homemade apple or berry crisp. In the time it takes to go out for an ice cream, I can make something even better at home.

  4. Annihilator

    Yeah from memory of the original deep dive into the investigation of it, the same machine is used at other companies (Wendy's I think) and they don't have that problem. The suggest was that McDonalds don't clean or service their machines as rigorously as others might...

    1. Annihilator

      Just found the original.. Basically, McDonalds have locked the franchise owners into a single contract for repairs that are crippling high. They even stamped down on a company that was selling a tool (Kytch) to franchise owners to troubleshoot and fix the machines on their own. The whole story is pretty dark.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrDEtSlqJC4

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        It is sad that error codes are now 'copyright'. I'm old enough to remember the IBM PC manuals that were several inches thick and contained every single error number, beep code and light flash sequence the computer could make.

        1. John Riddoch

          The old Spectrum 48K manuals were amazing too, including all sorts of really cool information about the hardware and the Z80 assembly opcodes.

          1. Stumpy

            Or even the BBC Micro's Advanced User Guide. This is what system manuals should be like.

            https://stardot.org.uk/mirrors/www.bbcdocs.com/filebase/essentials/BBC%20Microcomputer%20Advanced%20User%20Guide.pdf

            1. J. Cook Silver badge

              The venerable Commodore 64 and 128 came with schematics for the mainboard, too.

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                "The venerable Commodore 64 and 128 came with schematics for the mainboard, too."

                If you were to build your own from those schematics, you'd see how much less it would have cost to just buy one.

                I was just looking at building a flanger for my bass rig. After just totting up the cost of the most expensive bits (w/0 the PCB), I was at $150. I just got an offer to buy one new on eBay for $31+shipping. If I was going to build a couple of hundred, I could likely get it down to $40. What I envisioned was massaging the design to use standard-load surface mount components to get the PCB's nearly fully assembled and tested. I'd just stuff the last few most expensive or through-hole parts myself and do the final mechanical assembly. Unfortunately, I'd be competing against units selling for less than my cost, so not really a good business venture and a waste of my time. I'll stick to more niche items with lots of markup.

                1. Annihilator

                  I think that's the same with everything though. I had caused to repair my dishwasher (new heater) and washing machine (drain pump) in the last month and sourced the appropriate spare parts. The heater was only £30, and the drain pump £58, so both economical repairs, but at some point it won't be. If I were to build either machine using entirely spare parts, it would be more than double the cost of the same machine at retail.

                  The whole "right to repair" movement is a great step for the IT industry, but I think it's going to be shocking what the prices being charged for components will be. A new hinge for a laptop being £30 for example.

        2. JT_3K

          I've got a manual stack for a 286 somewhere that came with a giant ~A0 printout of the CPU and it's makeup.

        3. KLane

          Don't Forget

          Don't forget the companion books that had the fully commented source code for the bios!

          1. Someone Else Silver badge

            Re: Don't Forget

            Commented source? Shirley, you jest!

          2. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Re: Don't Forget

            Complete with the error in the UART initialisation code.

            The one that could get you into trouble because the easiest way to get working serial was to copy that out of the manual, fix the offending byte (IIRC swap the nybbles around) and patch the IRQ table. This was naughty, as IBM were more than eager to tell you that the code you just copied was copyright. So if your serial port worked and they found put...

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "It is sad that error codes are now 'copyright'."

          That's weird as they aren't much of a creative endeavor. The listings in an old phone book were not able to get copyright protections as the were just a compendium of factual information. After a lawsuit, one phone company started inserting listings they 'created' to show enough to be protectable under copyright law. Something that has to be pointed out is that the format of the data might be able to have a copyright. If a phone book had blocks/boarders/graphical elements on the pages, that could be registered.

          I suppose with enough money spent on lawyers error codes could be registered with a copyright office, but to me, it doesn't rise to the level of creativity to exceed the bar.

      2. Roger Greenwood

        Wired had the article about Kytch a while ago, as you say pretty dark...

        https://www.wired.com/story/kytch-ice-cream-machine-hackers-sue-mcdonalds-900-million/

    2. Chz

      Taylor make loads of soft serve machines, some of which are even reliable. The McDonalds one has a pasteuriser in it to not waste the day's leftover mix that other, similar machines do not have. I'm not sure that anyone else thinks the maintenance vs. product loss costs are worth it to use such a machine. But McD's part-owns Taylor and are well known for squeezing franchisees as much as possible, so it's not surprising from their persepctive.

      I'll also point out that franchisees *are* allowed to buy a machine from another manufacturer. Some Italian company I forget the name of. They're much, much more reliable, but of course the initial cost is much, much more.

  5. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    No sh!t Sherlock

    I briefly worked for McD as an assistant manager WAY back in the dark ages (late 80's) and the Thick Shake machines (very similar in function to ice cream machines) broke down constantly even then. The problems are down to the requirements for handling Milk based products and the fact that Milk is a bacterial growth TURBOCHARGER! Back then every single machine had to be stripped and sterilised every night and that process involves chemicals that damage parts of the machine like seals and o-rings, in fact anything that isn't made of medical grade stainless steel. Once sterilised the machine was left like that overnight and then in the morning was rinsed through with water to get rid of the sterilising chemicals after reassembly. So, you have a complex machine with lots of seals that was stripped every night and reassembled every morning by McD's staff and as a consequence the machines were often broken? How reliable do you think your car engine would be if it was regularly stripped and reassembled by junior apprentices? Yes, the companies that make those machines have tried to make them as moron-proof as possible and I believe they may only need to be sterilised once per week these days. The fact that the manufacturers are also open to being sued by customers and/or McDs (and most other sellers of Dairy fast-foods) just adds to their hyper-caution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No sh!t Sherlock

      If you build an industrial level machine that can be stripped down and cleaned but you don't provide clear instructions on how to do so, or use seals that need replacing but don't say when or make the replacements available then you're not making a machine for use but a revenue stream to exploit.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: No sh!t Sherlock

        "then you're not making a machine for use but a revenue stream to exploit."

        Standard 21st century operating procedure.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          Maintenance as a service

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: No sh!t Sherlock

            Maintenance as a product.

    2. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: No sh!t Sherlock

      The biggest revelation to me here is that there's actually milk in these products...

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: No sh!t Sherlock

        Get yourself a lovely ice cold partially gelatinated non-dairy bum-based beverage :)

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          Gum based.... how did I miss that....

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: No sh!t Sherlock

            I thought it was deliberate.

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: No sh!t Sherlock

              No, just me having a brain error.

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: No sh!t Sherlock

                Please report the error code to the manufacturer, who will be only too pleased to send out a repair tech at cost plus. Eventually.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: No sh!t Sherlock

                It's called a Freudian Slip.

                1. MrDamage Silver badge

                  Re: No sh!t Sherlock

                  Ssshhhh. Mum's the word.

        2. MrDamage Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          > Get yourself a lovely ice cold partially gelatinated non-dairy bum-based beverage :)

          They're using artificial vanilla flavouring as well?

    3. John_Ericsson

      Re: No sh!t Sherlock

      In the 1980s I fixed ice machines in pubs. I soon found out why pub staff never had ice in their drinks. We are only talking water/ice production , but when I removed the cover I would see a dollops of organic slime all along the chiller. McDonalds needs assurance their equipment is safe/clean. They can not get this if local staff are ringing up repair men (not matter how well qualified) to "have a look" at the dodgy machine. Also who can be blamed if a safety part is removed/by passed and several companies have looked at it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No sh!t Sherlock

        Oh, dangerous crap is hiding in more places than you think.

        I'm one of these weird people that actually reads the instructions that come with machines, and when I bought my coffee machine I specifically bought one that I knew to be easily disassembled so I could keep it clean - I'm kinda picky when it comes to devices that prep anything I want to consume. The instructions of literally each machine that grinds its own coffee beans state that you have to rinse the mechanism every. single. week. I'm a bit more thorough so I also take some lids off in the brewing unit when I clean it, but holding the brewing unit at least under a running tap once a week is a minimum.

        So, imagine my surprise when a friend of mine who has such a device told me "oh yes, I always give it the cleaning tablet when it asks". That's not a good thing to hear when you've just been served a cup of coffee from that machine - thankfully I had not touched it yet. When I asked if he had ever taken the brewing unit out and rinsed it I got a blank stare so the answer clearly was not going to be "of course".

        I cannot describe the horror I found when I popped the lid on the side as he had this thing for about a year and to be honest, I was surprised I didn't have to catch new lifeforms escaping from the machine.

        He's buying a new machine so the other one can be sent for a cleaning by the manufacturer, but to be honest I'm not certain he'll get it back - I think it's more likely to get incinerated as a biohazard..

        1. ChoHag Silver badge

          This Is Spinal Tap

          But this machine, right, you just press this button here and it makes you a coffee.

        2. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          Some people are just completely oblivious to the horrors. Out of sight, out of mind.

          I recently cleaned out the icemaker in my fridge.. it wasn't too bad! The worst bit is the dispenser as visitors will add ice AFTER pouring a drink and it splashes.

          And then we have this. I'm not sure when shoving a turkey baster up your kids nose became a thing but the fact people never thought 'I wonder what is going on inside this thing I can't see in?' is beyond me.

          https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/mold-in-nasal-aspirator/

          YUK!

          1. ravenviz Silver badge

            Re: No sh!t Sherlock

            And automatic toothbrush heads!

            1. blackcat Silver badge

              Re: No sh!t Sherlock

              Or the bottom of the electric toothbrush. The hole where the charger pokes into is usually utterly gross.

          2. Mage Silver badge

            Re: No sh!t Sherlock

            My friends got a big USA style fridge with a water chiller / dispenser. After discussion they only use it as an extra storage shelf. Not cold enough to stop growths. Algae and mould are as risky as bacteria.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          This confirms everything I thought about coffee: too damn complicated. I think I'll stick with tea.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No sh!t Sherlock

            But, but .. you guys put MILK in it.

            :)

        4. that one in the corner Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          Just stick with a cafetiere (or two): cheaper, easier to clean, no slower to use.

        5. ravenviz Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          Have you never taken apart a Breville sandwich toaster after a few years’ use? OH THE HORROR!

        6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          "I'm one of these weird people that actually reads the instructions that come with machines,"

          McDonald's' can't afford to hire people who can read.

          "and when I bought my coffee machine"

          Beans and other stuff in coffee machines will more likely than not come in contact with 100 °C water at some point. Cleaning chemicals? Yech! Errant life forms? What? Me worry?

        7. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          There's no risk of that happening at this household* because if you ask for coffee I'll boil the kettle, transfer the brown granules from the jar to the mug, and pour the boiling water onto it. I'll even let you have milk and sugar if you wish :-)

          * OK, I suppose there's a small risk depending on what can grow in/on coffee granules after >6 months in the cupboard (no one in the house drinks coffee, so it only gets used for visitors!)

      2. trindflo Bronze badge
        Alert

        Re: No sh!t Sherlock

        You beat me to it. My question was: would that include allowing some local Rick Sanchez to repair the Musk/Tesla autopilot and then take it for a spin?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: No sh!t Sherlock

          "My question was: would that include allowing some local Rick Sanchez to repair the Musk/Tesla autopilot and then take it for a spin?"

          Rick wouldn't be modifying the software.

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: No sh!t Sherlock

        Here in Ireland, the Ice-cream machines have cleaning instructions. Food places are inspected too. However having worked on designing an Ice-cream making machine and considering items in freezers above the red loading lines, I'm not sure inspections are frequent enough. Though even big name supermarkets have been fined and premises closed.

  6. MJI Silver badge

    Better to find a Mr Whippy van

    If you want soft icecream use a Mr Whippy van

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Better to find a Mr Whippy van

      And what really underlines this is that the vans use exactly the same sort of equipment with same process as the McDonalds machines.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Better to find a Mr Whippy van

        Have you ever hada bad one? Or not in use?

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          Re: Better to find a Mr Whippy van

          Just the usual curse of not being able to find enough change before he turns the corner.

          1. Is It Me

            Re: Better to find a Mr Whippy van

            The ones I have seen in the last couple of years all take card payment now.

        2. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Better to find a Mr Whippy van

          Dave, the venerable driver of the My Whippy van round our way, has a novel take on the cleaning regime. He wears blue nitrile gloves, and wipes everything down with a jay cloth, and if he should notice a spot that he's missed he just spits on the cloth and wipes it away.

          But bless him, he doesn't seem to mind me paying for a 99 Flake with handfuls of 2 pence pieces.

  7. Mint Sauce
    FAIL

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    There's a typo in the article - surely it should say: "..Leading on the worrying statistic that 10 percent of McDonald's ice cream machines are WORKING at any given moment..."

  8. Kev99 Silver badge

    Why on earth does an ice cream machine need software? They worked for decades with simple switches and sensors. I don't remember any Mr Softee truck not working becuase the ice cream machine had a software error.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Soft ice, soft ware?

      :)

    2. ravenviz Silver badge
      Coat

      I thought ice cream vans had improved, I heard they have become less Flaky these days…

  9. Rick Deckard

    The manufacturer of these machines,, which is the only one that it is made explicitly clear to franchisees that they MUST use, makes 25% of its earnings from callous, servicing and repairs....there's the issue, that and briber....sorry, lobbying...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      McDonalds is about standardisation - the same product whether you buy it in Barcelona or Bute.

      so specifying a single machine makes sense for head office. (and the manufacturer paid to get the sole supplier deal?)

      But the franchisee bears the costs of the deal not HQ - well not to the extent that it reduces revenue to hq sufficiently for them to care.

      1. Fred Daggy Silver badge
        Devil

        This is the business model of all franchises. Business hint: No ever got rich being at the bottom of the franchisor/franchisee food chain.

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        The nearest McDonald’s to the Isle of Bute is in Greenock, a 3 hour round trip including a ferry ride!

  10. martinusher Silver badge

    Primary use for software these days

    The amount of effort that goes into making sure something doesn't work unless the right commercial conditions are present is astounding. A processor, after all, is just a piece of logic that conveniently replaces dedicated mechanical or electrical logic but the temptation for marketing types to make their product 'exclusive' is just too great.

    They're all at it as well. Some years ago I became an accidental Intel employee. I was working on WiFi and the first thing our new bosses asked for was for some twist on the standard that would make 'our' products unique (and hopefully less compatible, I suppose). As an engineer I kind of side stepped that one but I've met this in other companies, even if its just a bit of a clever tweak to the hardware design that makes a generic processor card unusable to build a particular product.

    As a retiree, one of those Baby Boomer types who (obviously) "has all the money", I can say with confidence that my wallet stays firmly shut when it comes to purchasing this kind of product. It doesn't matter whether its a Stellantis car, a HP printer or an McDonalds ice cream (or a Keurig 2.0 coffee maker) -- I can't be bothered dealing with this BS. I'll just go live in a cave. They'll fold before I do.

  11. Mage Silver badge
    Linux

    Good

    Very good.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    They are NOT broken!

    They are not broken, just dirty, and the employees are too lazy to clean it! Or, it is being cleaned, but takes 3 hours!! TIKTOK is full of employees telling the real story...

  13. Bump in the night
    Alien

    This might be a job for . . .

    a human being.

    Some tasks vex automation. While probably not at the thoughput they want, I think most of us could make a decent milk shake by hand with little training and a blender.

  14. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Listeria

    Three dead so far, from consuming milkshakes from improperly cleaned machines in my area.

    Could it be that the makers of McDonald's' ice cream machines decided to build a machine that, should some unskilled worker make one tiny slip-up, it will refuse to run? Until some qualified technician visits it and ensures that it is good to go. Perhaps they just didn't want dead people on their conscience. Or profit and loss statement.

  15. aki009

    Do it for the children!

    Legalize self repair.

    If you won't do it for the ice cream, then do it for the children! (Who go without ice cream.)

    That usually gets things done in DC.

  16. Reginald O.

    Legendary Fail: McDonald Ice Cream Machines

    The story of broken McDonald ice cream machines is so old it's become legendary.

    Yet, nothing really happens at the corporate level to correct the situation.

    It's easy to blame Taylor, rightfully so, but I do wonder very seriously why McDonald's let's them get away with this for years on end?

    How are McDonald's execs benefiting from this fiasco?

    Are franchise owners getting milked by these ice cream machines?

    Who pays the repair fees? Where does that money go?

  17. Exact Circus

    As G. K. Chesterton said over a hundred years ago,

    “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.”

    “The big commercial concerns of to-day are quite exceptionally incompetent. They will be even more incompetent when they are omnipotent. Indeed, that is, and always has been, the whole point of a monopoly; the old and sound argument against a monopoly. It is only because it is incompetent that it has to be omnipotent. When one large shop occupies the whole of one side of a street (or sometimes both sides), it does so in order that men may be unable to get what they want; and may be forced to buy what they don’t want.”

    Nothing has changed. Monopoly usually becomes anti-economic.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right to repair EVERYTHING? You sure?

    Laptop - definitely.

    Ice cream machine - probably.

    Tesla auto-pilot software - probably not.

    Nuclear power station - definitely not.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Change who makes a profit when things get broken.

    IDEA: Product manufacturers get charged for every repair or replacement that needs to done with their products.*

    *(when products have been used normally, and within reason)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like