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I'm a photographer, observer, writer, traveler with a unique perspective on life, travel, work, customer service & the print medium. 

 

MinuteKEY, The Key-Cutting Vending Machine

I was in Lowe's last week shopping for some lawn fertilizer when I realized I needed to duplicate a few keys. I typically get my keys duplicated at our local Ace Hardware but being in another hardware store, I decided to get another task off my "to do" list.


As I was walking near the checkout area, I noticed an automated key duplication machine so I decided to give it a try. I wasn't sure if this could have been done manually at Lowe's but with no associates nearby, I decided to try automation. At first glance, I had no idea of the cost or how it was designed but the sign said each key takes about 1 minute to create so why not. I figured with a slight learning curve, this could be accomplished without issue.


First thing I noticed was a lack of inexpensive key designs. They had two plain colored key options for $4.50 and other designs included the American flag, Mickey Mouse, and Marvel characters for $5.50. I opted for the former to save a few bucks.


My initial thought, a charge of $4.50 for an automated key process that takes just a minute to produce was a little pricey but curiosity about this process pushed me forward. I needed three keys and because the machine stated that the 3rd key was free, it reduced the cost to around $3 per key for all three.


I was able to get each of my keys duplicated in about 1 minute.

With tax, it came to an odd number and with the sign stating no coins are given back, opted for the credit card purchase. Not sure why change is unavailable, many other vending machine devices offer change but again, it's not currently an option with MinuteKEY. Also, coins are not accepted at this point. Because this was my first exposure with MinuteKEY, I'm not equipped to say if MinuteKEY have standard prices for key duplication at other retailers and locations.


I made my first set and without seeing the option to copy another key, it was time to charge my purchase. Same process for the second as for the first. Again, because I couldn't get change back by paying in cash, I had to make two separate credit card transactions.


Besides no change given, I also realized there was no physical receipt given after each of these purchases. According to their website, MinuteKEY does not provide printed receipt for environmental reasons but offers the options to email or text a receipt. Primarily environmental reasons or economic or both?


My motivation for using this automated system had nothing to do with 'Skipping the line".

A nice option for those who don't initially get the receipt emailed, their website allows customers to complete a short form to get your receipt emailed to you after purchase.


A few days later, I had to make another key for my wife and walked over to my Ace hardware store. The cost was $2.75 plus tax (with Ace Reward credits).


Their website states that MinuteKEY has partnered with the National Forest Foundation and is planting a tree for every 2 of these keys purchased! I guess spending a little extra money on keys isn't such a bad thing, especially if 2 trees will be planted based on my purchase.