Friday, October 29, 2010

Congrats Guy!

We just got word that Key Guy owner Guy Tordjman is now Certified in Video System Technologies as well as a Level 1 Certified Alarm Technician! Both certifications are from the Electronic Security Association's National Training School. Guy joins a growing number of alarm technicians who have attained this esteemed professional designation.

At the Electronic Security Association National Training School, Guy underwent 24 hours of classroom training and passed the certification exam to become a Level 1 Certified Alarm Technician. Guy trained for 16 hours to complete the Video System Technologies course.

Congratulations Key Guy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Should I replace or re-key the lock on my door?

Should I replace or re-key the lock on my door?

Off the top of my head, if your lock has one of these words written on it, REPLACE!
  • Brinks
  • EZset
  • Defiant
  • Kwikset
  • Morning Industry
  • Mountain Security
  • ...and sometimes Master Lock and Schlage, too
I have seen Guy literally rip locks of this caliber in two without even grunting. Yes, he is unusually strong, but still, The Key Guy recommends replacing these locks if they are on a Front Door, Back Door, or other entry door if you don't want the baddies breaking them too easily. Is your security really worth the extra $40? As most of us have probably learned by this point in our lives, you get what you pay for.

Buying a lock is not like buying a cute dress for Friday night. You do not wear it once and forget about it in the back of your closet. A lock should be more like that great little black dress that you keep pulling out again and again for work, cocktails, dinner, and that piano recital. It has to perform! It has to keep working like it's new even when you've used it 40 times. It definitely can't fall apart when a man starts violently pulling at it. (See? a lock is just like a little black dress!)

So you know when to REPLACE. When do you REKEY? Well, in most instances you want to re-key because:
  • it's greener (nothing to throw away)
  • it's cleaner (less lock parts all over the place)
  • it's cheaper (using what you already have vs buying a brand new hunk of metal)

Key Guy Buying Tip: Locks from Walmart, Kmart, and Home Depot are cheap. This does not mean they are good.

Do I have to replace my lock cylinders when the contractors are finished building?

Ask the Locksmith: "Do I have to replace my lock cylinders when the contractors are finished building?"

The Short Answer: No. Call a locksmith and get your locks re-keyed instead.

The Long Answer (for those who dare to read it):
Most manufacturers these days offer "contractor" cylinders, meaning that they come functioning with a contractor key out of the box. They come with another set of keys that, once inserted, will permanently void the contractor key. In essence you get to rekey the cylinder yourself, just by turning a key. We've found that the cost of these cylinders is usually more expensive than just calling a locksmith to re-key the cylinder, so we don't really believe in selling those products. For example, if a Mul-T-Lock cylinder costs about $100, the "contractor" version of that same cylinder usually costs around $300. It costs less than $200 for a locksmith to come out and do a re-key, although if you're looking for convenience and speed the contractor cylinder is the faster option for a re-key. I would much rather have to do the extra labor for a customer than to sell him something up front that's just not cost effective.

The cylinders that come with your locks are fine to be used permanently, even if you want to re-key them when the contractors pack up. You can save a lot of money by re-keying the cylinders you already have rather than replacing them with new ones. We can simply recombinate the pins in your cylinder so that the old keys no longer work, using all the original hardware (think green?). If you have a decent brand like Arrow or Sargent, this is a better option than replacement unless there is something wrong or broken (or if you want to upgrade). We create master key systems using the same method. By the way, we've had some recent complaints about some unscrupulous locksmiths going around telling folks that their locks are "so fancy" they are impossible to re-key, thereby selling people new hardware they don't really need, so it's always best to get a second opinion if someone tells you something like that.

If you are going to replace the cylinders, they can be used in another lock of the same type. Not all locks have removable cylinders. If they are interchangeable core cylinders then they can be moved from lock to lock with a special control key. IC cores come in two main formats, small format and large format, that are not interchangeable with each other. If your locks do have changeable cores, it might be worthwhile to upgrade to high-security cylinders instead of re-keying. The average commercial-grade cylinder costs about $60 to re-key, and the average high-security cylinder costs about $100.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Village of Experts, Worldwide Fools

Only after 30 concentrated and fruitless hours did I figure out my problem. In the age of the internet (excuse the triteness), the only age I've ever known, a certain faction of my generation has become too self-reliant. You probably expect to be able to find out everything you want about anything you want just by googling it hard enough. Then you probably figure you can save money by ordering it online from eBay or Amazon. I know I do. Heaven forbid if I ever have to pick up the phone, bother a real live person, and take up their precious time.

I do all my vain googling in spite of the fact that I'm an adamant opposer of people trying to play locksmith themselves. I get mad everytime they call The Key Guy after they've mail-ordered their cheap "defiant" locks and non-functioning "made in China" transponder keys. There are invariably problems. "You should have called us first!," I usually scold, "we could have sold you the real brand-name version of this key for less than what you paid for the knockoff!"

Yet I'm guilty of spending 30 hours looking for a product or a company or something, anything that could give me a non-bank-breaking, non-subscription-based auto attendant. (That's the phone thing whose claim to fame is "Press 1 for the locksmith, Press 2 for . . . ) I should tell you that I finally picked up the phone and called a local company who couldn't help me, but who gave me the websites of 3 other local companies who could. Doh!

Need another example? A friend of mine once lost his copy of a university laboratory key. The university was going to charge him $1000 to re-key the entire laboratory because of the risk of someone finding the key. Needless to say, he scoured the internet and decided to buy an entire box of key blanks that he hoped were the same, then file one key down himself to prevent anyone finding out he'd lost the original. He could have just gone to a local locksmith and had them duplicate his friend's key for a few dollars, but instead he became a novice expert in key googling and probably has a box of key blanks sitting around his apartment. I'm still not sure how he replicated the "Do Not Duplicate" stamp or the numbers imprinted on the key. Those stamps cost several hundred dollars. He could have just called a locksmith right there in his city . . . but no.

The next time you have a problem, what if you just picked up the phone and asked an expert? I keep telling myself that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Do you have keys? Do you CONTROL them?

Do you have keys? Do you CONTROL them? Cut costs and increase security with key control! Key control is a cost-effective way to manage access to your locking mechanisms. Say what?

Let's play pretend:

Say you purchase some decent locks and give the keys to your 3 managers. There're 4 locks: a doorknob and deadbolt for the front door and back door, $400.

You fire Betsy after 4 months and request she return your keys. She grudgingly gives you back one copy, but who knows if she's made other copies? You re-key 4 locks for $125+.

A week later you see Max's girlfriend with a copy of the that's why you've seen their car in the parking lot afterhours! Max made a duplicate ($2 cost to him) and gave it to his girlfriend so they could canoodle. You re-key again for $125+ and make your managers sign written agreements not to make key copies. You have the locksmith stamp the keys "Do Not Duplicate." Unbeknownst to you, Max's girlfriend steals his key, makes a copy at a locksmith shop, and does a 'sneak attack' on him in the office (the "do not duplicate" stamp is pretty much bogus where the law is concerned). The key falls from her pocket and is picked up by a random bum who wanders in the next day who uses the company bathroom at will from then on.

The very next weekend, your most trusted manager--yourself, silly!--loses his key somewhere on Diamond Head. After a good facepalm, you refuse to fork over another $125+ for rekeying and finally decide to get a grip on your security. You call The Key Guy and order 2 doorknobs and 2 deadbolts from Mul-T-Lock along with 4 keys $800. Total Cost: $1600+

Let's Re-wind and Re-Play Pretend:

Say you call The Key Guy and order 2 High Security 3-N-1 Mul-T-Lock Doorknobs and 2 High Security Mul-T-Lock Deadbolts along with 4 keys, $800.

You fire Betsy after 4 months and she returns her key, as per the contract you made her sign back when you issued the keys. She gives you back one copy, and you are secure in the knowledge that Betsy couldn't have made a copy even if she'd tried. Only you can make duplicates with your authorized signature and key code.

A week later, Max tried in vain to make a duplicate at 6 different locksmiths only to find that even if they wanted to make his key, they couldn't. The Key Guy has the only Mul-T-Lock key machine in the state. Darn, Max really wanted to let his girlfriend surprise him in the office whenever she wanted. You do not have to re-key, and you didn't even have to make your manager sign written agreements not to make key copies. You don't bother having the keys stamped "Do Not Duplicate." Unbeknownst to you, Max's girlfriend steals his key, tries to make a copy, and fails. Ha ha!

The very next weekend, your most trusted manager--yourself, silly!--loses his key somewhere on Diamond Head. After a good facepalm, you insert one of your set of yellow keys and re-key the locks yourself, just by turning a key. The Mul-T-Lock "3 N 1" cylinders come with 3 sets of color-coded keys that you can use to re-key your locks yourself! Green, yellow, and red. For each re-key a locksmith has to do, you get three re-keys! Total Cost: $800

What, exactly, happened there?
If you issue keys to employees, this is a must-have that many businesses wish they had purchased at the outset. Don't wait until you have an 'incident.' A high-security key control system cuts costs and increases security. This is what happened in that story up there:
  • Eliminate the need to re-key your locks, which you must do every time you let an employee go.
  • Eliminates the risk that key holders will make unauthorized duplicates of keys. Only you will be able to make duplicates, and only at our shop. No other locksmith can duplicate the keys. You will always know exactly how many keys to each lock are floating around and who has them.
  • You saved money. For the cost of regular commercial-grade locks and a re-key or two, you can buy a patened Mul-T-Lock key control system and not have to worry about security breaches down the road.
The Key Guy has high-security key blanks and locks from Mul-T-Lock, who has a functionality patent on their locks and keys (watch out for "patented" locks with design patents--which are purely decorative). Honestly, burglars will probably break your door itself before they break through a Mul-T-Lock. I'm not going to say it's 100% tamper-proof, because nothing is (hello, have you watched Mission Impossible or Oceans 11?), but let me tell you it would take a very sophisticated criminal to game this lock. Did I mention all Mul-T-Locks come with a 20-year warranty and come UL rated? Yup.

Other High-Security Locks: If you're considering, say, the Schlage Everest or Schlage Primus high-security locks, don't. Just go for something better right off the bat. The Schlage high-security keys can be duplicated on the same key machines that are in every hardware store in Honolulu. Sure, the blanks are a little harder to get, but any locksmith can find them easily at any locksmith supply distributor.

If you control keys, get them under your control. Ignorance is no longer your excuse. Consider getting a quote. It's free.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Locksmith's Security Tip of the Day

Don't leave notes for service people or family members on the door. These act as a welcome mat for burglars.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Heart Warmed

This warm fuzzy story is from yesterday, October 13 2010:

This is truly amazing! I had the car running to cool it down with the AC while strapping my baby girl in to her car seat. When I was done I closed the back door, and suddenly realized that all doors were locked and that my girl was locked in, with all my things including my phone. I ran up to the nearest home where I borrowed the phone to call a locksmith (just happened to be the Key Guy. Within 10 minutes they were there and opened the car for me. My baby was playing with some crayons during this time, do not think she realized at all what happened. I did not even have time to panic!

I am so happy with their response time it is unbelievable.

The locksmith (Shay Shaham) was very professional, and I was ready to pay Shay when he informs me that this is a free service part of their Child Protection initiative (not sure if that is exactly what he called it, but you get the point).

Thx for making my day Key Guy! I hope I do not need a locksmith any more, but if I do I will sure give Key Guy a call.


Thank you to Shay, our locksmith technician, and to Patrick for calling us in his time of need. I hope more people will take advantage of this free community service. (Once, Guy even arrived before the fire truck to unlock a baby in Kaimuki.) And if you've read The Key Guy's company history, you know that we get our name and our logo from locksmiths being a little like modern-day superheroes, stemming from the first time I saw Guy rescue a baby from a stuffy car at Hana'uma Bay.

Read more Key Guy reviews on YELP

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Locks on the Cheap?

Are you thinking of replacing your locks? Do you want to save money by buying your locks online? If you do, you're not alone. Just don't make the same fatal mistake as two Key Guy customers this week.

We had one office manager purchase almost a dozen locks on the internet and call us to install them in her office. To our chagrin, the locks had latches that were so small they almost didn't exist, and all the specifications were incompatible with standard American doors and replacement parts. The keys that went with the locks were a blank we had never seen before and that definitely isn't distributed in Hawaii. If the customer were ever to need any key duplicates or replacement parts, she would be tough out of luck. For the locks she purchased, we actually refused to give her an estimate to do the work. Any sound locksmith would not put his name to the installation of such low-quality hardware. There is nothing wrong with ordering your own locks and calling a professional to install them, but be sure you do your research beforehand to make sure you're not buying a brand that will fall apart within a year. Email The Key Guy a link to the locks you're thinking about buying and we'll let you know.

A general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for, and when it comes to your security, you are better off buying a good lock that will last for years and offers decent security than purchasing a cheap lock that will only last a year or two and that will come apart in an intruder's bare hands. It's not even a question of whether or not you think your safety is worth the extra dollars. In the long run, it is actually more cost-effective to buy a more expensive lock because you do not have to replace it every one or two years as you would a cheap one. Of course, it doesn't hurt that better locks are stronger and safer, either.