If you're a real estate agent, and you work with buyers, chances are that your association has lockboxes and keys for all participants to get inthose lockboxes. Our association, the Lee County Association of Realtors, uses the ActiveKEY by GE Security.
These seemingly easy-to-use devices are supposed to make life easier for realtors, safer for homeowners (so not everyone has access to keys), and good for tracking showings.
That IS, when they are working correctly and are set-up right.
Here's my complaints (in no particular order):
First of all, when you press the keys on the ActiveKEY, they don't depress or "give" any. My young child has toy phones and such that have physical, responding keys. With the sound off, it's hard to tell if your keystrokes have been succesfully chosen or not. What a pain. Even the first TV remote controls, you know, the ones that were attached to television sets by a wire, had keys that depress! Man, how could GE go backwards with technology? The keys we had before we swapped to these things had keys that depressed. The first evidence that GE ran out of money by the time these things hit the assembly line.
Second problem I have is that the screens are monochromatic. As I said before, these things are bass-ackwards when it comes to keeping up with technology. Even the cheapest iPODS (who's prices are cheaper than these things) have color displays. I mean, COME ON. What has a monochromatic screen anymore?
Third, battery life is nonexistant. I understand the juice that gets eaten up from broadcasting. I sold mobile phones for several years before real estate. I can draw charts and graphs explaining radio waves and signals, as well as explaining that the harder a device searches, the more battery it drains. These things only need to update ONCE per day. The software inside is written so that in case your not in an area where a cell phone signal can be reached, that the key will keep trying until it gets a signal to update. This could easily be solved with a menu function to "connect and update." Funny, that was essentially what the old keysdid. We just had to have them hook up to internet or phone to update. Wireless was the next step. But at least the old DisplayKEY had more than a day's battery life. Shoot. Those things could go almost 3 days. The illegitimate baby step-brother, the ActiveKEY, would be dead as disco after more than a day of not charging and a couple of uses. Which brings me to my next point...
Fourth, is LONG charge time. Harry Houdini couldn't hold his breath long enough to wait on these things to get even a minimal charge to open one keybox! Let's face it. We have ENOUGH to wait on in this business. Uploading pictures probably takes the most time of a realtor's. But when I'm lying on my deathbed, I'll sit and try to calculate how much of my life I wasted waiting on these d%&* ActiveKEYs to charge.
Fifth, (remember how I said these weren't in any order - this one should have been FIRST) these things are too expensive considering how crappy they are. I have twice paid $263 and some change (yearly charge) to use this thing. I wish I could find a Motorola or Samsung designer to make a better device. I understand the service costs money. I get that. SIDE NOTE : I tried the key on my Pocket PC for a few months last year. They make the software for Palms and Blackberrys now as well. That was a monthly charge of around $29 per month. If you do the math, that's a few dollars more a year for an interface that is cumbersome and not very user-friendly - but that's a whole nother blog topic! But back to the price. Where do these people get off? Seriously, I've called tech support to complain before. I jokingly asked the operator, who did speak good English by the way, (don't get me started on hotlines with foreign operators!) I asked her, "wanna know why I don't like these things?" - She replied, "Oh please tell me what YOU don't like. No one has shared anything negative about these units." - I got the sarcasm loud and clear. She went on to confide in me that since the inception of the new devices, their call volume had tripled in complaints.
Next, (what number am I on?) I've been waiting on my Key to charge so that I could turn it on and tell you more things wrong, is the way the software works in assigning lockboxes. If a lockbox is used by another agent in your office, and that agent doesn't "unassign," they'll be getting updates on their keys for showings on your property. Quite frustrating, and will confuse the hell out of you if it happens to you for the first time. One night, as another agent kept opening the lockbox to show her client how it worked, my key beeped repeatedly, having me scury to my computer to find out who was showing my property(s) every 2 minutes for half an hour.
Seventh, the flashlight function they brag about on the training video makes me want to light a candle to show someone at GE how much better they could've designed that! Pitiful.
Eighth, these things are larger and bulkier than their previous model, the DispayKEY. What, did someone complain that the predecessors were too small? Look at ANY OTHER handheld device. In today's Information Age, isn't the idea to get smaller and sleeker? Again, they've managed to go backwards in time yet again.
Ninth, you have to by the $30 vehicle charger from GE and only GE. I've tried numerous other fitting, but unsuccessful, chargers that wouldn't work. Gotta but theirs. This one isn't a big deal, but when I'm already ticked off, this just adds fuel to the fire.
Tenth, the sounds on this thing make scraping fingernails across a chalkboard sound like Mozart. Enough said. They just suck. And you can't change them.
In closing, I'd like to say that GE is an AMERICAN company, that I feel we, as real estate agents should support. We shouldn't have to go overseas to get this technology. But it's disappointing to see them strikeout so bad on the ActiveKEY.
When our Association swapped over, it was a huge undertaking and what we call where I come from, a "big ole GOAT-ROPIN!'" I dread the day we have to swap over againt, But yet, I can't wait to throw my ActiveKEY in the street.