A Key Adventure in Mexico

Here’s a little story for you, fresh out of the wiles of daily life here in Mexico. We call it a key adventure.

Last Sunday our neighbors and ourselves took a shopping trip to Guadalajara, the capstone of which was a venture to one of the two Costcos there. Costco was rocking and rolling, just like it always seems to be when we visit. Packed to the gills. We circled the parking lot several times in search of a parking space until finally a Costco employee guided us into a space.

We thanked and tipped him and I slipped the key into my pocket.

Now, understand, when I say key I am referring to a fob that automatically opens and locks the doors with the press of a button and a button that “opens” the ignition key for insertion into the steering wheel. It’s a long slender piece of pot metal.

This fob was old, six years old to be sure. And the open/close buttons had long since worn out, so unlocking the car required that the key itself be used on the driver’s side door lock.

When we bought the car, we had an unpleasant encounter with the dealer, who only provided us with one fob and key. After some back and forth about providing us with a second set, the dealership chose to play hardball and said we’d have to pay $400 (U.S.) and wait a month or six weeks to get one from California. I called bullshit on this and invoked the name of an EVP at the dealership group’s headquarters. This brought action in our favor and the key was given to us, just as it should have been.

Back to Guad. We braved the crowds at Costco and sauntered back to the car. I pulled out the fob, only to discover that the actual key was missing. Gone. We assumed that somehow it had broken off. We searched the ground around and under the car and back toward the Costco entrance. Nothing. Finally, our neighbor suggested that maybe it had fallen in the car. Walking over the the passenger side I peered in and sure enough, the key was still in the ignition, broken off from the fob.

So, we grabbed a cab and did a round trip home and back with our other fob. Fortunately, the key extracted easily from the ignition and even though the battery had been draining while we were making the trip (3 hours total), the car started and we bought it home.

Now, what to do? Hunt down a Kia dealer here in Mexico and order a key for a U.S. plated vehicle? At what cost? $400 was the price six years ago. What is it now? And how long would it take?

Then Bonita suggested going down to the local key shop (yes, there’s a actual shop that specializes on all kinds of keys and locks) just down the street from us. She thought maybe they could attach a key handle to the existing key so it could be used, even without the fob attachment.

(The fob attachment had just disintegrated.)

So Tuesday I walked down to the shop and made the inquiry. One of the employees spoke some English so I explained the problem. He asked if I had the actual fob. Yes, I did, and went back home and got it.

He took it and said come back in an hour.

I did, and he presented me with a new fob, Kia equipment, with our key securely attached.

Cost? A whopping $40 U.S. (800 pesos).

And the added bonus is that now we can use that fob to lock and unlock the car.

Moreover, he presented me with the disassembled old fob. No funny business here. Just professional service, well and quickly done.

This is Mexico. Items get re-used here. Or repaired or fixed. It seems to be part of the entrepreneurial spirit that we encounter everywhere here. It’s a welcome relief.

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