Avoid overpaying for locksmith services by following these 7 steps
Locksmith scams have been mentioned as a fast-growing problem in the Consumer Federation of America’s Top 10 List of consumer complaints in recent years. Typically, the scams involve overcharging for lockout services and/or insisting that locks need to be drilled open and then replaced rather than opened with a simple lockpicking. Fortunately, it is easy to avoid falling victim to a scam by following these 7 steps for choosing a reputable locksmith.
- Look for a Local, Established Company. Some scam artists change their company name every few years to keep their bad reputation from catching up to them, so if you have the choice between a relatively new locksmith and an old, established one like Curley’s Keyshop that’s been around for 50+ years, choose the older company. Also check the company’s address—ideally you want a locksmith with a street address not a PO Box. That way you know you will be able to visit the locksmith in person with any complaints you may have down the line.
- Check Reviews. Reading customer reviews before hiring any sort of contractor is always wise. You do have to take reviews with a grain of salt sometimes, and a single negative review probably shouldn’t serve as a deal breaker. But a locksmith with a pattern of inferior service and lots of customer complaints should be avoided.
- Ask for a Licensed Locksmith. When you call the locksmith company, be sure to tell them that you expect the locksmith they send to be able to display his or her license to you. If the dispatcher tries to talk you out of this, or claims that all their locksmiths are licensed but don’t carry a license with them, there’s something fishy going on. Don’t use that company.
- Ask for an Estimate. While still on the phone with the locksmith company, ask for a ballpark estimate of their fee for your job. Beware of really low prices—if it seems too good to be true it probably is. A really low price could indicate that the locksmith plans to pressure you into additional services to earn more money.
- Check the Vehicle & License. When the locksmith arrives, make note of the vehicle. A reputable locksmith will typically have a company vehicle with the name and phone number of the company clearly displayed. When asked for their license, a reputable locksmith will have no problem presenting it to you.
- Confirm the Estimate. Once the locksmith has had a chance to inspect your lock, ask them to confirm the estimate that you received over the phone. If the numbers don’t match and you’re not satisfied with the explanation as to why, consider calling a different locksmith.
- Beware of Drilling. Reputable locksmiths like Curley’s Keyshop use drilling as a last resort when providing lockout services. If the locksmith you’ve found wants to immediately proceed to drilling without first attempting to pick the lock, you should be concerned. Drilling will ruin your lock and force you to purchase a new one and pay for installation. Ask the locksmith to explain why the lock must be drilled. Again, if you’re not happy with the explanation, consider calling a different locksmith for a second opinion.