H/T Mental Floss.
The unreliability of the McFlurry machines at McDonald’s has become a running joke among customers. The equipment needed to churn out the frozen treats is notoriously temperamental, and franchises can take weeks to repair them. But the issue runs deeper than bad luck and faulty technology: As Motherboard reports, a legal battle is currently raging over who gets to fix the McFlurry machines at McDonald’s.
On July 30, 2021, the company Kytch obtained a restraining order against Taylor, the manufacturer of the McFlurry machines. Until recently, only certified repair technicians from Taylor could fix the appliances when they broke down. The process is complicated, requiring partial disassembly and a four-hour sanitation process to kill bacteria. McDonald’s employees who use workarounds to get the machines up and running again don’t always take the proper health precautions and risk making customers ill.
Kytch was the first company that allowed franchises to safely repair their McFlurry dispensers without calling Taylor. They optimize the contraptions by installing a small, Wi-Fi-connected device inside them. The gadget collects data about the machine, and when something goes wrong, it identifies the problem and prescribes a solution. With a Kytch device, McDonald’s employees could finally understand how their McFlurry machine worked and how to fix it themselves. If you’ve noticed a higher success rate with your McFlurry orders in the last couple of years, Kytch was likely the reason why.
The fast-food chain embraced the new technology. Without it, McDonald’s was losing $255 million in dessert profits annually. Unsurprisingly, Taylor was less happy with their new competition. They spread rumors that the Kytch products were dangerous to use—many investors and restaurant owners believed what they said and cut ties with the company. Meanwhile, Taylor had gotten their hands on Kytch devices and were studying them for trade secrets, according to the restraining order filed by Kytch.
Taylor’s COO admitted to seeking out a Kytch gadget, but he cited a different explanation. His statement in the court document alleges that they wanted to obtain the product “in order to evaluate and assess its potential technology-related impacts upon our Soft Serve Machine—such as whether the radio frequency of the Kytch device would interfere with our software signal, or whether the Kytch device would drain the power source of our software and/or cause it malfunction.”
Regardless of Taylor’s motives, the company has been forced to surrender its Kytch devices and is forbidden from using any information obtained from them. This may be good news for McDonald’s customers in the long run. In the meantime, you should still check the status of your local McFlurry machine before your next visit to save yourself the frustration.