McFlurry machines keep breaking and the FTC wants answers

The agency recently sent a letter to McDonald's restaurants to ask about the machine.

Mikhail Tereshchenko via Getty Images

McDonald’s McFlurry machine and its tendency to break down has been the inspiration for countless jokes and Twitter feuds, and now it could become the subject of a Federal Trade Commission investigation. According to The Wall Street Journal, the agency recently reached out to McDonald’s restaurant owners to collect more information on their experiences with the machines.

Why is the FTC looking into McFlurry machines, you ask? The answer may have something to do with the right to repair movement. At the start of July, President Biden ordered the agency to draft new rules to empower consumers and businesses to repair their devices on their own. Later that same month, the FTC made good on that order, voting unanimously to tackle unlawful repair restrictions.

By all accounts, McFlurry machines are a nightmare to repair. Moreover, Taylor, the firm that makes them, is at the center of a legal battle over measures it uses to prevent restaurants from repairing the machines on their own. When a McFlurry machine breaks down, only a certified technician from Taylor is allowed to fix it, leading to long wait times. Those wait times have increased during the pandemic. A federal judge recently sided with a company that produces a diagnostic tool that threatens Taylor’s monopoly on repairs.

The FTC hasn’t opened a formal probe yet. “The existence of a preliminary investigation does not indicate the FTC or its staff have found any wrongdoing,” the agency said in the letter it sent out this summer, according to The Journal. However, it reportedly wants to know how often restaurant owners are allowed to work on the McFlurry machines on their own.

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