ActiveKEY - 10 reasons I'd like to throw mine in the street.

Real Estate Agent with Prudential Preferred Real Estate

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.GE Security ActiveKEY

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.

Comments (18)

Lizzie Blair
Zachary, LA

I couldnt agree with you more!

Jan 25, 2009 02:45 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Thanks Lizzie, I assume ya'll use those in your local Association. Bless your hearts.

Jan 25, 2009 02:59 PM
Pat Tasker
Shorewest Realtors - Germantown, WI
Your Milwaukee Metro Area Agent (WI)

Guess they arent what they are cracked up to be....we are dinosaurs here, and still have the "old fashioned" lock boxes...

Jan 25, 2009 03:07 PM
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

I use my phone...  I have a T-Mobile MDA... and I don't have most of those problems.  For our MLS, the cost is about the same for the key or for using my own equipment.  I never forget my phone, so the key gets a free ride. 

Jan 25, 2009 03:18 PM
June Piper-Brandon
Houwzer Inc - Baltimore, MD
Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time

We use sentrilock in our area.  We switched from supra boxes last year.  Thing is I have to update my card daily, while my partner who is a member of another board only has to do it once a week.  What's with that?

Jan 25, 2009 03:22 PM
Bo Kociuba
McGraw Realtors - Mustang, OK
Realtor - Mustang, Yukon & OKC Metro 405-812-1572

Jay...this modern marvel is an absolute dinosaur! We are using it here too...I share your frustration but I decided that it is not worth my time. Just take FIDO count to three before you bark

With smiles,


Jan 25, 2009 03:25 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey Pat, Harvey Keitel said it best in Pulp Fiction: "Move outta tha sticks fellas." 

Jan 25, 2009 03:29 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey Lane, tried the PDA thing. Didn't like the interface and it was more expensive for us.

Jan 25, 2009 03:30 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey June, I've got friends in other areas using Sentrilock. Heard good and bad. GOT TO BE BETTER than GE!

Jan 25, 2009 03:32 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Hey Bo, I HEAR ya man. "Guess I picked the wrong week to stop taking depressants!" -(Lloyd Bridges in Airplane!)

Jan 25, 2009 03:34 PM
Denise Gray
Realty World Alliance - Wichita, KS
Realtor SRES, Wichita Kansas Homes

Mine decided to just lay down and die. I'm driving from one showing to the next and my fully charged friend just up and died. No reason. No abuse. Just DEAD. Fortunately I was less than 5 minutes away from the office and one of my comrades let me take his for the afternoon.

It gets better while doing this driving I call to find out whats up. They tell me to leave it on the charger for 4 hours and if it doesn't come back to live it needs to be replaced. Well it's been on the charger all night. It was working fine and showed fully charged. Why wait 4 hours to call back?

Jan 25, 2009 03:37 PM
Hamilton Landon Real Estate - Apple Valley, CA
...Marketing your home like no one else will.


Maybe you got a lemon of a key.   We use the same system, my key stays charged for days and recharges quickly.

Now my phone, it's a differnt story,  that dies on a busy day before 3PM.  I have to go home ans switch batteries with my husband's phone.

I used my PDA for awhile, we have a choice, but this was cheaper.  We pay once a year.

I haven't figure it all all out with all the gizmos it has, but it opens the lock boxes.

Better luck with it.

Karen @ Hamilton Landon in AV, CA


Jan 25, 2009 03:38 PM
Tom Davis
Harrington ERA,DE Homes For Sale, $$ Save $$ Buy Today ! - Dover, DE
FREE Delaware Homes Search!, $$ Save $$ - Find Homes! Delaware Realtor

OH MY GOOOOODNESS YOU ARE SO RIGHT and the first person I ever heard mention it!

The Battery Life is TERRIBLE and the older one was EASIER!!

Thanks a ton for cracking me up!

Tom Davis

Jan 25, 2009 03:55 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Denise, I feel your pain. Been there. I'm on my 5th or 6th one. Lost count.

And KAREN. Oh Karen. Now I know some may say that things are always better in California.... But there's NO WAY you're using the same keys we are. As I told Denise, this is my 5th or 6th key. I've listened to everyone in my office complain and, being on my Association's Technology Committee, I've heard it from near'bout ALL the agents here. NONE of them last more than a day. Never have. Even if you're not showing property. You sure you're using GE Security's ActiveKEY?

Tom, glad  to pass a smile.

Jan 25, 2009 04:18 PM
Hamilton Landon Real Estate - Apple Valley, CA
...Marketing your home like no one else will.

Hi Jay,

I got it figured out.  I got the lemon, they made a mistake and I got the good one.   LOL!

Honestly we have so many REO's that my key sits idlel way too often.  90% of what I show has a combo box.   Some of those are really a pain.  I ran into one last week that a big guy would have never been able to get his fingers into get the keys out.  My fingers could barely get the key out.  Just a side bar, but the same trip out one of my fellow agents put the box on backward, you couldn't turn the box around to open the box.  I did get the box open but it was a challenge.

I have one complaint about it that wasn't on your list.  Do you think they could have made it any uglier?   It looks like one of my kids toys.



Jan 26, 2009 04:58 PM
Jay Knorr
Prudential Preferred Real Estate - Auburn, AL
Auburn Al Properties

Karen, I feel your pain. Our REOs in our area, the few that there are, all have the combo keybox, and they are SO small. Someone should develop a better one.

Jan 27, 2009 12:35 AM
Mara Hawks
First Realty Auburn - Auburn, AL
Inactive-2012 REALTOR - Homes for Sale Auburn Real Estate, AL

I've had mine replaced 3 times already...and I never knew how to describe that it doesn't have that "give" when you depress the keys. Yes, toys are much better made, it seems! (And I'm sure you're discovering a lot of fun in THAT world with your new little Jackson!)

Jan 30, 2009 10:22 PM
Trevor Swan

Mine was fully charged 2 days ago - Haven't used it since I took it off charge.


Tried to use it today and it was toast.


I am thinking about demanding a refund.  I like the security they provide but they are so secure I can't even get in!



Sep 12, 2010 09:03 AM