Tuesday, May 22

Doing things the easy way.

We were recently considering getting a spare key for our car, a Mercedes. We have stopped considering it now, because Mercedes charge in the region of £130 for a new key. One hundred and thirty quid.

Now, it's bad enough that Mercedes should fleece their customers — many of them very loyal customers — for such a simple job as cutting the metal bit of the key and programming the infra-red bit, but my brother-in-law the mechanic informs me that that's not even what they're doing. You or I might do things that way, but oh no, the clever people at Mercedes know better.

When a new car rolls off the production line at Mercedes, it does so with some keys. I don't know how many — let's say ten. If you lose a set, you contact Mercedes and they sell you one of these keys for £130, the bastards. But what if you're really forgetful or unlucky and you lose ten keys? Or what if you bought the car second-hand and the previous owners have lost nine, and you then lose just one? You'd think Mercedes might charge you even more to manufacture a new key than merely to sell you one they'd made earlier.

And you'd think wrong, because what they actually do when they have no more of the original keys to sell you is nothing. If you lose the last set of keys, you have to have the car's entire locking mechanism replaced.

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