McDonalds Milkshake Machines

This rant has been a long time coming. I don’t normally eat McDonalds and I’m all of 145lbs and 5’11”. I’m a fairly thin guy for my height and so what I eat has never really been an issue…One thing I’ve grown to love over the years is a good chocolate shake. Just about every place has them. Wendy’s has included among their Frosty lineup a new Frosty Shake.

I went to Mississippi College in Clinton MS for a while and now live in the city of Jackson. In Clinton there was a McDonalds just down the street that was just the right distance from the school for a quick lunch or late night snack. One thing that you could always count on though was the shake machine being broken. Broken? Ok understandable – it’s broken and you can’t exactly fix that unless you have a repairman come out, have parts brought in, whatever… but the thing that made this shake machine special is that for 3 years that shake machine remained broken. It was a running joke on campus that you couldn’t get a shake there because the machine was always broken. Some guessed they didn’t have one, or they were too lazy to clean it or too lazy to get it set up. The big laugh came when they demolished the entire building. We’re not really sure why – but they tore down the whole Clinton McDonalds and build a brand new one over it’s foundation. The second day of business I went in ordered the usual and figured I’d get a shake this time since it was brand new… the shake machine was broken.

After that incident a few years ago I’ve always joked about how all McDonalds shake machines were broken. It wasn’t until I googled around until I realized I wasn’t the only one who thought so. This link is from Yahoo Answers asking why the machines are always broken. This link is a guy who tried to get one in an airport and is posting in a forum asking everyone else if they have the same problem. This guy at complains that both the local McDonalds shake machines are broken. The list goes on ( and on ( and on ( – scroll down a bit) and on (digitalspy) and on (another yahooanswers) and well… you get the point. It’s a freaking nationwide pandemic!!

I set out on my own to collect a little “statistical data”. It’s by no means completely accurate or even a good representation of the McDonald’s nationwide. I limited it to the 9 closest McDonalds to where I work and proceeded to stop by a different one every time I got in the mood for some fast food. I have kept track of which ones I’ve hit, which ones had shakes, and which ones didn’t.

Of the 9 local McDonalds I visited all but one of the shake machines were broken. That’s 8 out of 9 or 88%. That’s terrible! Why is this such a problem? My guess is that the shake machine needs just as much if not more maintenance than any other machine in the kitchen and sells a much lower volume than any other food – and the employees are simply too lazy to clean it up afterwards or get it set up in the morning. There’s absolutely no possibility that if the make/model of shake machines that are used by McDonalds break this much that they would continue to use them.

I know some of you are thinking “dude, it’s just a shake machine – go somewhere else…” But that’s only because you haven’t been repeatedly denied for the same item at different stores with the same lame excuse of “it’s broken.”

When I finish this rant I am going to attempt to contact someone in charge of my region about this. Chances are after seeing how hard of a time the guy in Supersize Me had in getting someone to call him back regarding an interview – I doubt I’ll actually ever get a response 10 miles within “we’ll look into it.” If you’ve had the same experience of being denied a milkshake because “the machine is broken” I suggest you contact whoever is in charge of your franchise…that’s the only way anything is every going to change. So spread the word! McDonalds shake machines aren’t really broken and we’re pissed!

19 Comment(s)

  1. I really think I should drop IT and become a milkshake machine repair man. It’s not like I wouldn’t have any trouble finding work or anything.

    Blue Sunshine | Aug 14, 2008 | Reply


    Recently I made a valid complaint to McDonalds customer services dept. about McDonalds poor standards at thier Harben Parade branch at Swiss Cottage, London NW3. The complaint concerned slow service, abrasive attitudes, and matters about unacceptable hygeine standards.

    The complaint was passed on to the store by customer services, following which the store’s manager, Bakry, promptly banned me from the store. He did not deny that my complaint was valid, but was told that I was banned simply becauseI I had made the complaint in the first place. Their management team consists entirely of immigrants, having come here on dodgy visas and the like, and all of which in favour of my ban, which shows how much we are now under the control of illegal immigrants.

    Perhaps this is consistent with McDonalds training practices. It would appear that you have to accept their adverse practices without question or suffer the consequences, as I myself did.

    jeremylee | Sep 27, 2008 | Reply

  3. I know this is an old post, but I just ran into this tonight at 2 local McDonalds…tried to order a Shamrock Shake, and both said “Sorry, but or shake machine is down.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that I would be rich. I sent an email to corporate about this…lets see where that gets me.

    J. Stephens | Mar 2, 2009 | Reply

  4. nowhere..I’ve sent them the link to this blog post and haven’t heard back. If you’ve ever seen “Supersize Me” just look at the difficult time the guy filming the documentary had getting someone higher up than a store manager to call him back.

    Rants&Raves | Mar 3, 2009 | Reply

  5. yep. i went and tried to get a shamrock shake today too. machine down. i’d say out of the last 20 times ive tried to get a shake ANYWHERE, not just mcd’s, it’s down.

    jason | Mar 11, 2009 | Reply

  6. just ran into that tonight. went to 1 mcdonalds to get a shamrock shake and said machine down. Ok, there’s another one nearby, i’ll just go there. Same thing! There not broke, just to lazy to do whatever it needs done to it everyday.

    ML | Mar 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. uhhh. the shake machines go into a mode called “Heat Treat” where it pasteurizes the shake mix inside it. When it is in this mode you cannot serve ice-cream or shakes. Instead of employee’s explaining what is going on they simply tell the customer that it is broken. Try going to the restaurant at an earlier time in the night, you will surely get your much desired milkshake.

    – Franchise Owner

    Franchise Owner | Aug 29, 2009 | Reply

  8. @ Franchise Owner
    I visited each of these on a different day on my lunch break. For the machines to be down or in “Heat Treat” mode during one of the busiest hours of the day is highly unlikely. I agree an employee wouldn’t take the time to try and explain what the machine is doing, but that’s certainly not the case with 88% of the stores here in Jackson during peak hours.

    Rants&Raves | Sep 1, 2009 | Reply

  9. Ok, Then you can most likely blame it on the staff/management team or even the franchise owner itself. The model that is used at most Mcdonalds has many little pieces that tend to break, easy to replace, but annoying to find whats actually causing the issue. At my restaurants i generally keep at least 2 of every piece of the machine on hand, so i can have the machine quickly repaired. But none of my staff/management team knows how the machine works. There is only one person who actually knows the machine, and he is our night shift manager. Who does the biweekly breakdown of the machine, and full clean and maintenance of all of our machines.

    Franchise Owner | Sep 4, 2009 | Reply

  10. Hey I know the topic is already dead but the reason why the machines always seem to breakdown is because they obviously aren’t maintained properly. In order to keep everything hygienic and running properly, the machine is supposed to be taken apart and cleaned properly monthly. The machine itself comes with a kit and instruction manual for proper maintenance. However, most restaurants do not incorporate this process regularly or sometimes at all! Hence, the build up of old shake mix and persistent “out of service” notices.

    Brian the Canadian | Apr 12, 2010 | Reply

  11. Is it brutally obvious that a formal complaint with the management should occur if you are being truly honest about the frequency and consistency of these occurrences? If in-store management is non-responsive the owner operator would really love to hear about why his or her store is failing to sell ice cream and or shakes, their phone number name and or e-mail is usually found on the receipt header or posted somewhere obvious in the restaurant. Lastly the good ol’ 1-800 number. That’s corporate and consistent quality problems like that can cause corporate to basically seize the store from the franchise owner in the best interest of Mcds public image. Good luck.

    donovan | May 7, 2010 | Reply

  12. Hmmmm, not sure whats going on at those McDonald’s. The one I work at is a Franchise and they own 13 others. Our shake machine was always going down, because it was OLD. They finally purchased a new one for us.. Yay! We were just as sick of the old one as the customers were. The new one can be taken apart and cleaned by 8 people in our store now. We carry extra parts too. One thing to rememeber, is if it is not put back together right, you will have issue’s. The other thing to remember, it is NOT always the fault of the employee! When we do have to say it is “down” and I don’t mean in Heat Mode, we get sarcastic remarks and customers are rude to us sometimes. We are just doing our job, and we can’t make the owners buy new machines, we have to deal with what they have. Thanks! Have a good evening

    Tammy (Crew Chief) | Jul 6, 2010 | Reply

  13. My wife and I have joked about the insanely high number of McDs with shake machine problems. We recently took a road trip of the southeast U.S., and we experienced the same average as you did in your area. Many times we stop at McDs only for shakes – or should I say only to be disappointed by the outbreak of machine problems. After it happened yet again today on our way to a college football game, I was determined to run a search on this.(which led me here).

    My theory: The shake machines aren’t really broken, but the staff on shift during the busier times doesn’t want to be slowed down by hassling with shakes.

    Too bad their shakes are better than most of their competition’s. When their temperamental machines are actually working, that is…

    JD | Nov 14, 2010 | Reply

  14. This has been going on for years … and I don’t think that the chain cares.

    My most recent example: one day last week I tried to get a shake at the store in Post, Texas (broken). As I was going to pass four other stores on the way home I decided, just for the hell of it, to try and score a shake at each one. By the time I got home, McDonald’s had a five for five score of broken shake machines.

    My first stop was a little after 11:00 AM, my last stop was a little after 1:00 PM. The stores ranged, in terms of busyness, from dead to slammed.

    I think they just don’t care.

    Anthony Hewetson | Jun 26, 2012 | Reply

  15. OMFG, glad I’m not the only one. For more than a year now all near McDonald’s franchises have not been able to give me a Milkshake. I live in bracknell area quite close to several McDonald’s. I frequently visit reading in which reading central alone has 2 McDonald’s for more than a year ” strawberry Milkshake please” ” sorry machines broken ” or even ” no Milkshake s but what d’you want” so I come home disappointed no Milkshake then i think wait i live near a McDonald’s so I pop in and as before ” strawberry Milkshake please” ” no milkshakes sorry ” Typical . I’ve tried different times if the day, nope nowt. Someone call me when one does work, I’ll give you my great* 7 grandkids no.

    hannah g | Jul 26, 2012 | Reply

  16. I came across this when I googled to see if there were others that had issues with McDonald’s shake machines. It is ALWAYS broken. If I want a shake, I don’t even bother to McDonald’s anymore. Burger King it is!

    Maureen | Oct 2, 2012 | Reply

  17. Congratulations for have enough time on your hands to find which different Mcdonalds machines were broken. Let me say this, I work at the busiest mcdonalds at my city. The shake machine breaks all the time and we don’t know why. Sorry your you couldn’t fill your 300 pound self with another shake, maybe it’s a sign, try a salad next time.

    Andrea | Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

  18. Andrea, don’t be so butthurt. Read the other comments on here and you’ll see that it’s more than just the shake machines breaking, it’s employees being too lazy to clean the machine and set it up in the mornings.

    Rants&Raves | May 23, 2013 | Reply

  19. On holiday near Flint, UK. Called in to Flint McD’s and sorry Sir, no shakes or icecreams today, the machine’s broken and awaiting a part from Texas.
    Well how about that. I see above a post from a customer in Texas that their machines break down frequently. At least they shouldn’t have to wait long for the parts to arrive.

    Rob | Jun 20, 2013 | Reply

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