Relax: Nothing in life is certain except death, taxes… and the broken ice machine at your local McDonald’s. We joke, of course, but just kind of. At any one time, a suspicious number of Mickey D.’s ice machines are out of order.
Accordingly McBroken, a website that monitors the status of McDonald’s ice cream machines across the country, a whopping 13.82 percent are defective at the time of this writing. That seems terribly high for industrial machines and is clearly unacceptable for iFixit’s gadget repair specialists. That is why they have made it their task to get to the bottom of the problem.
As iFixit told And as we pointed out last year, Mickey D’s ice machines are made by a company called Taylor, who conveniently password-protect the machines to keep troubleshooters out. When something goes wrong (and this seems to happen quite often), the only solution is to call a Taylor-Certified Technician to fix the problem.
According to iFixit, a service call by an authorized technician is billed at $315 per 15 minutes. It’s no surprise, then, that a quarter of Taylor’s profits come from technology service calls.
It would be easy enough to create a tool to help read error codes and fix the machines, but unfortunately that would be against copyright law. Section 1201 Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s a criminal offense to circumvent software locks on devices, even ice machines. It’s a holdover from the CD piracy era that iFixit thinks should be updated.
Along with public knowledgehave the repair specialists asked the Copyright Office to exempt ice machines from the DMCA. If the exception is granted, techs like iFixit could legally break into the machine’s software and reverse engineer the code. However, a real remedy would also be to legalize the sale of repair tools, which iFixit has also called for.
Photo credit: May Emoto