Edited by: TJVNews.com
What is the price of gaining entry to your locked home or car, getting locks installed on your new office building or getting them changed at your store after the contentious exit of a bitter former employee?
Some people would say it is too high.
Enough people have gotten ripped off by unsavory locksmiths to tarnish the reputation of all locksmith companies as greedy crooks. There are many signs, however, that clearly indicate that the locksmith that you have contacted is most probably cheating you.
A legitimate locksmith will always make it a matter of habit to be forthright with customers about all charges before beginning the work. Sometimes a locksmith will tack on additional charges to your bill due to factors such as mileage and emergency hours.
Even if a lockout situation should happen, it is advised that a person should allow panic to ensure. The best thing the customer can do is remain as calm and collected as possible and ask the locksmith for a full list of all potential charges. If the locksmith does not offer a direct answer to the question or if they attempt to charge more than the estimate they gave. chances are likely that the locksmith is trying to cheat the consumer.
A highly skilled and experienced locksmith will be able to open nearly any door. Shady locksmith companies may insist on drilling or replacing the lock as a way to charge consumers more money. Drilling is a drastic measure typically only needed for high-security locks. While some businesses may indeed have this type of lock; very few private residence or homeowners get them installed.
Replacing a high-security lock can cost hundreds of dollars, as they require specialized keys.
The bottom line is, be wary of any locksmith that claims they cannot gain entry via a standard lock without drilling or replacing it. These locksmiths might be ripping you off.
According to a page called “Locksmith Scams” on the Acme Locksmith web site, the company receives 2-3 phone calls a week from customers who have said that they feel they were ripped off by locksmith companies. What lures customers in is that they have been quoted a low charge by a locksmith because it appeared that they were getting what seemed to be a reasonable price.
When the scam locksmith company shows up, however, the charges quickly increased to astronomical rates. Once onsite, it’s relatively easy to spot an unprofessional, unlicensed locksmith, according to the Acme Locksmith company. The most common tip offs are:
- The “locksmith” arrives in a non-marked vehicle. This is a big red flag.
- The “locksmith” says your locks are high quality so they can’t be picked open or rekeyed. They will either need to be drilled and/or replace. This is another big red flag. It conveys that the “locksmith” did not have the skills to pick a common house lock or rekey it. Locksmiths do this thousands of times a year and should have no problem with it either unless a customer has taken specific actions to prevent lock picking, as was reported by Acme,
- The “locksmith” does not quote the price before beginning the work.
- The “locksmith” tells you that you would need to pay sales tax on services.
Acme Locksmith reported that historically speaking, scam locksmiths promote $19-39 service calls “plus labor,” The scammers then charge up to 50 times what a legitimate company would charge. The scammer locksmith issues receipts have no company name or phone number on them and the trucks have no markings other than just the word “locksmith.”
If a consumer wanted to lodge a complaint about their lock service, who do they complain to? Locksmiths are most often contacted through internet searches, according to the information on the Acme Locksmith web site. It’s typical that customers don’t remember the name and number of who they called once the work is done. If the customer is lucky enough to have called from a cell phone where a number can be recalled, those numbers just go to call centers where no one will assist them in dispute resolution.
This new wave of consumer abuse is based on the scam locksmith model, as was reported by the Acme Locksmith site. Scammers have come to realize that customers will jump at the low-quoted service calls because they seem like a bargain. The tactic now is to charge very high rates and add charges to the receipt, for work not performed.
They then get a signature on the receipt before the customer has time to object.
In order for locksmith companies who cheat customers to be taken to task for employing such unscrupulous business practices, one would need to file a report with the attorney general in the state in which the customer resides. At that juncture, the legal team at the attorney general’s office can launch an investigation into scam operations and if enough credible evidence can be unearthed then these kinds of scam companies can be hit with a number of criminal charges.
Acme Locksmith reported that people do not register a complaint with their respective attorney generals for a panoply of reasons.
1 – They don’t know who to complain about (no company name/number on the receipt).
2 – They are embarrassed.
3–It takes a lot of time to fill out an official complaint while an online review is quicker. The trouble is online reviews may shut down on particular business listing, but not the business. They just open another listing.
4–People don’t know they are being scammed! The national average for a home unlock is currently $93.
5–The bad locksmiths are getting really good at leaving the customer happy. When they present the customer with a huge bill, they offer to discount an item on the bill. Usually by as much as $50. Now, the customer is grateful that they received the discount instead of being legitimately upset about the price.
Almost everyone advertising as a locksmith is claiming to be licensed and bonded. Acme Locksmith advises the customer to Ask for their ROC license number to confirm. When they don’t have one, and their website has indicated that they have one, it is time to try an alternative. To earn a license, a licensed locksmith must have several years of experience and pass an aptitude test.
By getting this license number, the customer will have a method of recourse should anything go wrong and not be corrected. The ROC has a complaint process that will assist customers in getting the issue resolved to their satisfaction, as was reported on the Acme web site. This differs from an agency such as the Better Business Bureau as no constraints are put on businesses to maintain a level of quality.
It is advisable to search for steady reviews over a sustained period of time. As was recently reported, it is not always easy to find legitimate reviews. If a small locksmith service is receiving five reviews a day, then that should raise a red flag that their reviews are most probably fraudulent in nature.
A company with not a single bad review and 500 five-star reviews is suspect. When the bad reviews mention price gouging, that should be an indicator of a serious ethical problem with the locksmith company