I know, I know: I ‘m long overdue for a post. Believe it or not, it’s because I’ve spent the last couple of weeks fussing with one that’s become two separate ones and required a lot of number-finding and -crunching and writing/editing/editing even moreng. But it’ll be done soon.
In the meantime, I thought this bore mentioning.
I’m writing this at 9:59 p.m., where I’m seated comfortably inside my house with a receipt for three $3.97 keys — rather than inside my car, waiting to pay a locksmith anywhere from $150 to $250 for late-night lockout service.
And I have KeyHero to thank.
A little foresight (for a change)
Several years ago, I created a free KeyHero account on the company’s website, then found a location — in this case, a Home Depot five minutes from my house.
I drove there and had them scan my keys. Digital backups were created, and the files were saved in my account.
From then on, I could go to any location that works with KeyHero — which seems to mainly be Home Depot or Lowe’s stores — and have them make a key without having a physical copy for reference.
In the intervening years, I’ve never had to pay a cent to keep the account. I’ve never even gotten emails from the company. The files just sat there, waiting. Just in case.
And the “just in case” finally happened
A quick (and cheap) fix
I got home from trivia at 9 p.m. Wednesday night to discover that the ring with my housekeys had slipped off the main fob.
And weren’t in my car. Or the driveway. And my tenant wasn’t home — and wouldn’t be back until the next day.
Normally, I’d have had to call, wait for and then pay a locksmith to come let me in. That’s not cheap even when we’re not talking about an after-hours call.
Instead, I drove to Home Depot, went to the key-cutting station and snagged an employee.
All I had to do was:
- Sign into my KeyHero account on my phone
- Tap one of the saved keys in the account
- Have the employee tap the “KeyHero” icon on the machine
- Type the number the machine displayed into my phone (to verify it was printing at the right location)
After that, the machine told the employee which type of key to insert for cutting, and within a minute I had a replacement. Even doing three different keys, it was over in less than 5 minutes.
KeyHero isn’t the only business offering digital key backups. A quick search showed me there are at least two more: KeyMe and Minute Key, which I’ve seen them at grocery stores and such.
I haven’t used them, so I can’t attest to their quality. But it looks like they have the benefit of actual kiosks, rather than being run through a store’s key-cutting station. In other words, you don’t have to track down an employee.
Between that and just wanting to have more location options, I’ll be creating accounts with the other two companies as well.
Also worth noting: KeyHero’s parent company also has a service called InstaFob. You can make a copy of your fob’s RFID chip and make a new one if the original is lost.
I’m definitely doing that on my next trip to Home Depot.
I know this might not seem necessary if you have a friend or neighbor who keeps a spare set of keys for you.
But what if they’re not home and you need to get inside ASAP? Or what if they’re out of town? (This happened to a friend recently.)… what if they’re not home? Either for a while or flat-out not in town?
Some other times the service could be useful:
If you have kids old enough to stay home and they lose their keys… No need for you to leave work anymore. Have them walk, get a lift to or Uber to a store with a kiosk.
If you’re out of town and someone needs to access your place — because you’ve become convinced you left the oven on, because they desperately need something they lent you a while ago, or because they had a bad breakup/otherwise need to stay in your guest room for a bit — you can just send them to a kiosk and get the key back afterward.
If your pet- or housesitter loses their keys. Or if the person you’ve entrusted with your spare keys can’t find them… It’s not a huge deal.
And of course, it’s just easier if you want to make copies in general. There are more locations that could be more convenient for the other errands you’re running.
It couldn’t hurt
And hey, maybe you’ll never end up needing this service. But the great thing about it is that it costs you literally nothing to have it as a backup.
Well, other than the time it’ll take you to find a location and get the digital scans saved to your account.
And if you do end up needing keys cut, you’ll be very glad you signed up.
Does anyone else have experience with these digital key services?