Those Expensive Chip Keys – Maybe You Just Need a Valet Key

I mentioned in a previous post that I was driving my employer’s company van for a few weeks during the time that I was looking for a used car.  One night I had been to the grocery store and bought a week’s worth of groceries.  I hadn’t been able to reach Mr. A on his cell phone so I wasn’t sure if he would home to help me unload and take everything in.  I was happy to see him when I pulled into the yard.

I parked and dropped the keys into my purse.  Which was laying on the console.  I slid out of the van and closed the door.

Beep! Beep! The horn tooted and the lights flashed and *CLICK* all the doors locked.

WAIT.  The doors locked?  With the keys in my purse, in the van!  I grabbed the door and went to all the doors on the vehicle and every door was locked.

AGH.  I could not believe it.  Of course since it’s nice and toasty warm in the evening in the Arizona desert some of food was happily thawing.

I was so thankful that Mr. A was home, because my cell phone was in the van, too.  I took his phone and called Triple A.  It took them about an hour to arrive and another hour to unlock the van.

I was kind of freaked out by what had happened and I googled a bit and found some sources stating it was a safety feature, while others said it was a defect of some kind.

A high security padlock.

A high security padlock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I told my boss I would like to get another key just to have a spare key on hand in case that happened again, and she told me to go ahead and get one.  I stopped at a local home repair type store on my way home to get a key.

The guy at the counter took my key, waved it in some testing machine, handed my key back to me and said, “It’ll cost you $69.99 to start your vehicle.”

I was a little taken aback at the cost, took my key back and said, “I’ll be back.”  I would never dare purchase a *key* that costs nearly $70 without approval from my employer.

As I was walking away, he chortled out loud.  I wasn’t too happy about that. It felt awkward, and embarrassing.  I don’t think it’s very good customer service to laugh at your customers as if they are morons that don’t know their key is going to cost so much money to replace.  The key to this van doesn’t have a visible chip, and there was a customer standing in line in front of me or I would have waved the key in the testing machine myself.  My first reaction was to never shop in that establishment again, if that’s how customers are being treated.

But then I decided to call the store manager.  As the phone rang, I hoped the jerk guy wasn’t the manager. I was sure how I would react to that.  As it turns out, the store manager was a young woman.  She was sympathetic and apologetic.  She was pretty sure she knew exactly who I was talking about.  As we talked for a few minutes, I explained what had happened with the van and how it locked the keys inside.   At that point she said, “If you just need a key to open the door, I can make you one of those for a couple of bucks. They’re called a valet key.”

Oh.  Cool.  And why didn’t that guy just tell me that?   Then it made sense what he’d said, “It’ll cost you $69.99 to start your vehicle.”  Why couldn’t he have said, “This key has an invisible chip, so the cost is $69.99 is you want an ignition key.  I can also make you what is called a valet key, which will be useful as a spare but it can only open the vehicle door.”

I feel like he could have given me information and helped me out, instead he acted in a manner which almost lost the store a customer.

The great news is, now I know there is such a thing as a valet key, which is all I really wanted in the first place.  And now you know.

 

 

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