Royal Locksmith StoreLocation: Brooklyn, New York
Before you think of using these guys...
I unfortunately lost my key to my 2015 BMW 328i xDrive wagon. I had not used a locksmith before and figured after some googling and desperate calls that I would try Royal Locksmith. I called and was quoted $500 + taxes for a new BMW key. I was hoping this would be faster than my dealership ordering a new key.
Here's what happened.
Technician shows up after only 40 mins (good so far), not a very happy chap, however, this is not a contest for nicest locksmith.
I tell him how I've misplaced my key and need a new one programmed. He proceeds to ask where the battery to the car is. It's a wagon, so I assume he hasn't handled one before. I google it, and figure it out.
He then proceeds to plug in an OBDII adaptor into the car and starts up his computer. After some cursing, and 20 mins of not getting anywhere, he starts to remove panels on other parts of the car and removes the computer from the engine bay.
He disappears into his van. In hindsight I should have asked him what he was doing, as he wasn't communicating anything, but I figured I would stay out the way while the technician does his thing.
An hour or so passes, he reappears, visibly flustered and puts the computer back in the car. He then tries for 40 more mins with cursing and banging.
After another hour, he tells me he can't do it - that the computer is encrypted. He puts the engine cover back on and leaves. No charge. I give him the only $10 I have in my wallet to at least help with gas as I felt bad for him spending that time and not having success.
Two days later I get my replacement key from BMW who can program the key to the VIN of the vehicle. I get in the car and that's where I realize what he did.
Errors, malfunctions, lights - it's like Christmas across the dashboard. The engine will not start, the car is bricked!
I have the car towed to BMW. They diagnose it and let me know that the main computer is fried and it has a giant hole hacked into the top of it. Now I know what he was doing in the van with the computer! I really wish he asked if he could do that. The computer is a $2300 part.
Obviously, it's my fault for thinking a locksmith would come out and make a new key without potentially damaging the car, or at least communicate that they are about to drill into the car computer.
I would say the worst part of this experience is the company itself. I called Royal Locksmith after and shared with them what happened. Simply put, there was no recognition of fault, they were not interested in helping and it's obvious they don't care. I was told they would speak with the lead technician and someone would call me back. No one did - this was a week ago.
My advice would be, if you have a reasonably new car that has a more sophisticated security system (BMW / Mercedes / Audi etc) - know that you are taking a risk with letting someone hack these systems to make a key for a few hundred dollars. If you have no choice, then watch them like a hawk and ask for everything they are doing - do not assume they know what they are doing. I would hope my case is rare - however, it's a lesson I have learned the hard way and feel I need to share (along with a bad review for bad service).
Sorry this was so long! If you're currently looking for a locksmith I know your pain and wish you the best! I would absolutely avoid this company.
P.S Note some of the 5-star reviews on this company are clearly fake, and check their reviews on BBB.
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