Ever lose a car key or have one go bad after a few years? You probably dreaded asking the dealer for a new one, worried about the cost, with some keys and fobs costing $300 or more. Ron Sparer needed a duplicate key for his 2003 Toyota. He knew the dealer would charge well over $100 (if not $200 – $300), so he ordered an inexpensive blank online. Sparer says three hardware stores and big box stores all refused to even try to duplicate his key. “All three told me the same thing,” he said. “They won’t cut a key, and said I have to go to the dealer.” Some implied it was a security issue, to prevent thieves from making copies, while others wouldn’t do it because today’s keys are “smart keys” with a unique code. And they told him they would not be able to match the code of the RF chip molded into the plastic in the end of the key. Indeed, most car keys sold since 2001 now having a computer chip inside, leaving hardware stores struggling to make duplicates that work. It typically requires a trip to a dealer for a pricey new key fob, and an even pricier programming service. Ace Hardware’s John Doucleff said a growing num...