Anyone who's had the misfortune to need a replacement car key card, remote or key fob will know the extortionate prices quoted by manufacturers such as Ford, Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Vauxhall, Hyundai etc and recall the gasp they made when they where told the price and the bigger gasp they made when they where told the turnaround and time and in some case the fact that they where required to bring their vehicle into the main dealership and leave it for a day or two.
Surely these main dealerships are just ripping off their customers? I mean electronics are so inexpensive these days and you can in fact buy a brand name flat screen 32" smart TV with all the bells and whistles for the same price, or less than you are being asked to pay for replacement car key.
In fact the average price of a replacement key card/fob/remote from manufacturers such as Ford, Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Ford, Vauxhall and Hyundai is around £180? Yes, you heard right £180 for what is essentially less than 50pence worth of plastic and electronics.
Car keys/Fob/Remotes perform what is, fundamentally, a very straightforward job. They let you into your car and allow you to start it. Do they really need to be quite so complicated – and expensive?
After many weeks of research I found out that remotes are not very complicated at all, in fact they are very simple and use very inexpensive parts, the cost is in the equipment needed to programme a key for a certain vehicle, these machines are expensive don't get me wrong, however once bought they quickly recoup their initial cost especially for main dealers and any updates required when new vehicles/key types are released are simply software based updates.
After ringing a number of independent auto locksmiths I found out that the price comes right down from an average of £180 if bought through a main dealer to an average £80 if purchased through an independent auto locksmith, this is less than half. I did try to delve a little deeper into the whole industry and ask about the profit made on these electronic car keys, as I imagined though most auto locksmiths where a little reluctant to discuss the actual profit they made, however a few did reveal to me that they make very good money on replacement remotes, cards and fobs, so much that they'll programme and sell a second remote at the same time for half the price of the first one and still turn a good profit on it.
I also feel that it is important to mention that all of the independent auto locksmiths that i spoke to came out to you and programmed your remote at you home or place of work and the whole process takes less than 20 minutes sometime less.
Some auto locksmiths claimed that they get referral calls from miles outside of their area and that the customer is happy to pay an extra £10 or £20 to cover extra fuel due to the fact that they are saving so much money.
I'm sure than many readers are thinking that these independent auto locksmiths are using cheap Chinese imports whilst main dealer are using quality parts? Well this simple isn't true either; these are the same parts from the same suppliers.
So my finding are that yes, the main dealers charging almost £200 for replacement car keys and remotes are simple ripping off customer who simply don't know any better and if you need a replacement key card, fob or remote then ring around and find and independent auto locksmith, you'll be glad you did.
I couldn't find out what the reason was that some main dealers insisted that you bring in your vehicle and leave the whole day, I can only speculate that its either to simply justify the almost £200 price tag or so that they can do a bunch of vehicles together resulting in a very, very profitable 30 minutes or so...
I'd like to thank the following independent auto locksmiths for speaking to me and helping my to put together this article.