CAS Seeks FTC Action Against Mercedes on Requiring Consumers to Buy $3,600 Computer to Get Replacement Keys: Investigation of Other Auto Makers Sought on Smart Key Monopoly
The Center for Auto Safety is the nation’s premier independent, member driven, non-profit consumer advocacy organization dedicated to improving vehicle safety, quality, and fuel economy on behalf of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
Today auto companies have consumers by the keys. And none do so more than Mercedes Benz and Toyota which require some consumers to get a new computer to get a new key. With the advent of smart keys with embedded computer chips, the days of a consumer going to the local hardware store to get a replacement have all but vanished. CAS found the average price of a smart key from a dealer is $152 versus $12 for a mechanical key. If one has to replace a computer to get a new smart key, the costs soars to $2,200 for a Toyota and $3,600 for a Mercedes.
Whether it is a new smart key costing over $150 or a new computer/key system costing $2,000 to $4,000, auto companies have used smart keys to wring money from unsuspecting consumers who are not told that they face replacement key costs up to $300 or at least 10 to 15 times what they have paid for replacement keys in the past. In the worst case scenarios, consumers may have to buy a new computer to get a new key at a cost of 100 to 200 times what they have paid for replacement keys in the past. While they wait up to 8 weeks for a replacement computer, they have no use of their vehicle adding to the unforeseen cost imposed on the owner.