a green minute key kiosk in hardware store

minuteKey kiosk

“Is this the way of the future?” asked Anderson Lock Office Manager, Laura Miller, in an email subject line. She attached photos (shown here) that she had snapped when visiting a large Lowe’s store in New Orleans, while purchasing supplies for a youth mission trip building project.

The neon green self-service key-duplicating kiosk stands near the self-checkout aisles. For some standard, residential keys, it appears that the answer is, “Yes. This is the way of the future.” You can select from plain or decorative “designer” keys. You pay by credit card, and, like the name says, it only takes a minute to produce a duplicate key.

MinuteKey Inc. is a Boulder, CO, company, founded in 2008, that is already in big box stores in 15 states. According to a Denver Business Journal article by Greg Avery, the innovative vending machine company attracted $10.6 million in funding for expansion in 2011. “U.S. consumers spend $2 billion annually on key copying,” according to the company, which also claims that their keys are “10 times better than most manual solutions,” yet only cost $1.39 to $3.99 each.

green key machine duplicating key

Decorator design keyblanks

The self-service machines duplicate Kwikset, Schlage SC1, and a couple of other key types, “depending on areas and machines.” They do not duplicate car keys or high security keys. The machine analyzes the type of key you have to determine if it can be duplicated. If you want a receipt, you need to put in your email address and it will be sent electronically. The keys are “guaranteed,” but you have to call their customer service line, and wait for a refund to be processed. And although they state that their machines “are not to be used to duplicate restricted or protected keys, or keys to schools or public buildings” there isn’t any way to prevent that, if the key blanks match the key blanks in the machines.

So, homeowners or landlords who are concerned about security and / or key control should still seek a legitimate locksmith, like Anderson Lock, and request high security locks and keys, like Medeco and Schlage Everest or Primus. They should NOT trust their security to self-service key machines.

“These are like the Axxess machines,” says Brian Cassidy, Anderson Lock’s Inside Service Manager, referring to the self-service machines at Walmart stores. “We regularly get customers coming in here to have keys re-made because their Axxess keys don’t work.” He holds up the “Key Cross-Reference” chart that he and his crew refer to when trying to identify discount store keys. “The new machines might work well for a while, for a limited number of key blanks…”

neon green self-service key machine

Watch your key being cut

His voice trails off. He’s worked here for 28 years, and he knows a lot of customers who won’t get their keys cut anywhere else. Anderson Lock invests in expensive, commercial grade key machines that are regularly calibrated, and maintained, with sharp cutting blades to assure accurate cuts. Many are computerized for increased elimination of human error. In addition, we stock about a million key blanks, and we cut thousands of keys each week. Our friendly, experienced, well-trained lock techs can cut a key just as fast as a minute key kiosk can! We are not open as many hours as the big box stores such as Walmart, Menards, or Lowes, but that’s one reason we remind our customers to “Get an extra key before it is needed!”

One of the online articles I read while researching this blog referred to “a visit to a key maker / engraver shop” as “quintessential and quaint.” How amusing! If that writer visited our busy, high tech showroom she would see, and be seen by, closed-circuit TV cameras. She would see our Electronics Lab, which features biometric, card access, and other types of electronic locks. She would be dazzled by thousands of keys displayed above dozens of carefully calibrated key machines. Actual people, not robots, would duplicate her key.

Uncommon, maybe, but neither quintessential nor quaint!

So, no, Anderson Lock will not worry about new neon green key machines.

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