Home Depot, at the NJ location that I visit, duplicates keys using a person at a counter who is often not available immediately.
The price at Home Depot is $2 to $1.50 cheaper than the “Minute Key” self-service machine at Lowes which charges $3.50 to $4 per key duplication. Discounts available if you duplicate multiple keys. While the self-service machine is more expensive than the human powered service, the self-service key has a smoother fit and turn when you actually use the key and worth the extra $2.
This is especially true for the deadbolt keys that I was trying to duplicate. The Home Depot keys simply were too rough and would not work easily with the deadbolt. The machine made keys were as smooth as the master keys.
For a small value transaction such as this, its the end quality that really matters. And possibly the fact that you need not wait for anyone. The Lowes machine accepts credit cards. At Home Depot you have to first pay for the key then come back for getting the finished key.
It appears that the only instance where the human service is better is if you don’t have a credit card OR you need to duplicate a non-standard key such as a mailbox key.