Cutting a key

(From the archives, written in 2013)


When someone pays money to someone else they expect to get what they pay for. When someone does something for someone else they expect something back, usually money.

No one pays for nothing and no one does anything without getting paid or at least receiving something of value equal to what it is they do.

For example I want a a key to my front door cut. There is a nice little ironmongers down the road that always does a great job of cutting keys so I decide to go there. I take a five pound note with me because I’m not sure exactly how much it will cost me to get the key cut.

The man takes the original key from me and clamps it into a vice. He then takes a blank key from a display stand and clamps that in another, connected vice. He turns away and starts the machine that cuts the keys. Thirty seconds later he hands me the key and I hand him the fiver. During that thirty seconds my eyes find an invoice on the counter. I scan it and see that the shop has had a delivery of blank keys. I notice that blank keys cost the shopkeeper about 40p each.

The man gives me 1.50 change from the five pound note. He’s got £3.50 and I’ve got a brand new key. We’re both happy.

So, what have I paid for?

40p for the blank key

£3.10 for all the other costs associated with getting that key into my hands. For example, the man’s time and the electricity to drive the machine. Then there are a plethora of indirect costs to which my £3.50 contributes. Here’s a list of what comes to mind now.

  • Business rates for the shopkeeper
  • The profits of the business and any tax associated with them
  • Value added tax
  • Water rates of the premises
  • Accountancy costs
  • Advertising costs
  • Cleaning
  • Stationery
  • Telephone, internet
  • Building maintenance costs
  • General fuel bills
  • Banking costs

and so on . . .

That was yesterday

Today I spent over 4 hours of my time doing some database programming work for a client (who unfortunately happens to be a friend) and I got a bowl of lentils and two cups of a caffeinated drink.

(No wonder I was skint at that time)

By the way, I had a key cut a few weeks ago (in 2024), and it cost me £8.00!!!!!