This morning I got a call from one of my regular customers, a ‘note lot’ where I fit keys for vehicles purchased at auction or make duplicates so they can have a ‘repo key’. I’d been there the day before and, according to what I was hearing over the phone, a key which had started a Ford Taurus yesterday seemed to have ‘lost’ its programming.
Rather than ask a bunch of questions I told them I’d be right down; warranty work with a smile makes for long term customers.
Their porter greeted me when I pulled my service truck behind the building where the 2001 Taurus was parked. He’d gone into the file folder to retrieve the ‘repo key’ which he knew worked; but it no longer started the car. It turned in the ignition; but the ‘theft’ light was blinking to indicate it wasn’t programmed.
I looked at the key and remembered that the day before the manager handed me an ignition key and asked for a duplicate; but that the vehicle needed a door and trunk key since the ignition switch had been changed out at one time. The key ring he handed me only had one key on it; where was the door key I’d cut the day before.
In the ignition switch was another key with a second key hanging from the ring. It didn’t turn in the ignition switch but the door key, the key I’d cut the day before, that key matched the cuts of the file folder key. I began to suspect something odd was going on.
I checked the cuts against the notes I’d taken and that’s when the first major clue sprang up; yesterday’s Taurus had been a 2003, this vehicle was a spot on look a-like, same color and body style but made in 2001. The cuts on the door key were identical except the other vehicle had a different ignition switch key.
Somebody had moved the 2003 Taurus to the other side of the car lot and then the second Taurus, the 2001 Taurus got driven in for final detailing so the customer would have it all cleaned and polished. The porter hadn’t noticed and assumed it was the same car. That’s when the comedy of errors began to play out.
They’d handed the customer the keys I’d made for the 2003 Taurus and for some odd reason they wouldn’t work in the 2001 Taurus ignition switch, worked in the door just fine, just not in the ignition. Nobody bothered to check the VIN; hey, it’s the same color and shape so it must be the right car.
My job was pretty clear; program the customer’s key and be on my way, laugh and be glad for keeping good notes.
This will also appear as a feature article on Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America’s.