There are two sides to every coin. For the customer, losing your keys and needing to call a locksmith to make car keys can be an incredibly frustrating experience. There are lots of locksmiths that are willing to trick customers with bait and switch tactics ($29 to come out and then pricing is given after the job is complete). For locksmiths, making car keys is not always easy, especially when all the keys have been lost and we need to make a key from scratch.
When you are calling a locksmith for a car key, especially when you lost all your keys, please remember It is no their fault you lost the keys and they are trying to help you.
Here are a few things that we have encountered that we find frustrating – and what customers can do about it.
Not Knowing the Year, Make, & Model
This really isn’t that big of a deal which is why it’s first on the list. Some customers don’t know exactly what car they have and that’s typically okay. If someone calls up and says they have a Ford Expedition, we know we can handle it. However is someone says they lost all their keys to their Audi, it makes a huge difference what make and model the car is.
What Customers Can Do: Text the VIN number or take a *clear* picture of the VIN number. We can determine exactly what year make and model the car is from the VIN number. The VIN number is visible on the driver’s side underneath the driver’s side windshield. It’s also on the driver’s side door but the door must be unlocked in order to view the VIN number here.
Key Copied / All Keys Lost
Making a car key from a copy is much easier than opening a locked car with no keys and making a key from scratch. Asking “How much is it for a 2015 Dodge Ram key” has at least two different prices. Do you have a working key or have you lost all of your keys. You would think it would be obvious that it’s more difficult to make a key when all the keys have been lost and the pricing would reflect that.
What Customers Can Do: Understand that more work and materials will result in additional costs.
People Double Booking (Racing Locksmiths)
Some people will book with two or more locksmiths and see which one shows up first. Everyone understands that losing your keys and needing to pay someone to use your own car is frustrating. However, double booking and seeing who shows up is not the way to guarantee you’ll get to your end goal of having a working key and remote. Many locksmiths will specifically ask if they have booked someone else to prevent this. It’s very unfortunate that so many talented people needlessly waste their time when people are double booking. You may be liable to pay a service fee or trip charge for each locksmith you call out.
What Customers Can Do: Understand that this is probably one of the worst things you can do to any service company. Please treat others how you would like to be treated.
People Price Shopping/ Bidding Wars / People not Cancelling Appointments
It is okay to price shop. You should call around and get general pricing before investing with a company to have a key made. Just don’t be tricked by $29 service calls and too good to be true offers – they will normally end up costing you more money when they up charge on site. A vehicle is one of people’s most important and expensive possessions. You don’t want ripped off on pricing but you don’t want to have an inexperienced person come out and potentially damage the lock, doors, or car’s computer. If you want to get back on the road as quickly as possible find a reputable company that can provide straightforward pricing.
Some customers will call and say, “I understand you charge X but a different company says they’ll do it for Y. Can you match or beat this price?” This uses up a lot of resources that locksmith companies have handling multiple phone calls for the same job. Most locksmith companies will be highly suspect that the caller actually has an offer to do the job for the price you give. Unfortunately, many customers do, shall we say “bend the truth” looking for deals.
What Customers Can Do: Ethically price shop and you use your gut to make a decision about which company you choose. If you do need to cancel and appointment call or text as soon as you can as a common courtesy.
Leaving out Details (someone else worked on the car, different key for door and ignition)
Some people don’t really know about cars and don’t know information to give locksmiths. Some people purposely hide details about their car which can cause issues when making and programming car keys. Remember, if you chose a good reputable locksmith company the person coming to your vehicle is a an expert at diagnosing ignition and immobilizer systems and creating car keys and remotes. If there is an issue with the vehicle it’s not going to get passed them and they are not going to be happy when they found out you lied to them. If you had a different company come out and they dissembled the lock, be upfront about it and tell the second company.
What Customers Can Do: Provide as much information as possible about your car and it’s condition regarding the locks and keys.
Thinking We Will Fix the Car
Making a car key and remote from scratch does look like magic but it won’t fix everything with your car – it will only give you a key and remote. If the windows didn’t work before – they won’t work after you get a new remote. If the car had error codes before it’s still going to have error codes. If the trunk latch was broken and the trunk release button didn’t work before it will not magically start working after you get a new remote
What Customers Can Do: Understand that automotive locksmiths are in the business of providing working keys and remotes. They are not coming to you car or truck to do general repairs.
Rudeness / People Thinking we are Overcharging
Some people call up and are immediately defensive or sometimes even hostile. We get it, you’re in a difficult situation. But being angry doesn’t help. Remember, there is a real person on the other end of the phone just trying to help you get a key. Some people are very surprised by the cost of getting a replacement key and remote. We are sympathetic to that as well. However, please consider that a dealership does charge more and is less convenient. They require that the car be towed to the dealership if there are no working keys. Additionally, the turn around time for getting a replacement key is often considerably longer. The tools, machines, and inventory to be able to create keys for most vehicles on the road is very expensive. Locksmiths need to charge enough to compensate their staff and pay for existing inventory and purchase additional inventory.
What Customers Can Do: Understand that most locksmiths are there to help you out of a cruddy situation. They are not responsible for you losing your keys and are in the business of making car keys. In order for a business to be profitable they have to charge rates that will turn a profit. Making car keys by design is not easy. The person coming out to make a car key for you has spent a significant amount of time learning the trade and arriving with thousands of dollars of tools and inventory. Unless they are an unscrupulous company they are simply charging a professional rate.