Chilling: In life, nothing is certain except death, taxes… and the ice cream machine at your local McDonald's being broken. We are joking, of course, but only sort of. At any given time, a suspiciously high number of Mickey D's ice cream machines are out of order.
According to McBroken, a site that monitors the status of McDonald's ice cream machines across the country, a whopping 13.82 percent are broken as of this writing. That seems awfully high for industrial machinery and is clearly unacceptable to the gadget repair specialists at iFixit, so they have made it their mission to get to the bottom of the issue.
As iFixit recounts and as we highlighted last year, Mickey D's ice cream machines are manufactured by a company called Taylor that conveniently password-protects the machines to keep troubleshooters at bay. When something goes wrong (and that seems to happen a lot), the only solution is to call out a Taylor-certified technician to fix it.
According to iFixit, a service call from an authorized tech is billed at $315 per 15 minutes. It is no surprise, then, that a quarter of Taylor's profits come from service tech callouts.
It would be easy enough to create a tool to help read error codes and repair the machines, but alas – doing so would violate copyright law. Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it a crime to bypass software locks on devices, even ice cream machines. It is a holdover from the era of CD piracy, and one that iFixit believes should be updated.
Together with Public Knowledge, the repair specialists have asked the copyright office to make ice cream machines exempt from the DMCA. If the exemption is granted, it would allow technical folks like iFixit to legally dig into the machine's software and reverse engineer the code. A true remedy, however, would also require making it legal to sell repair tools, which iFixit has also requested.
Image credit: Mai Emoto