Each year, more than 250,000 Americans place an emergency call to a locksmith. Accidental lockouts from homes and cars, lost, stolen, broken or stuck keys in locks, and lock malfunction are the primary culprits. While the American market is filled with locksmiths ready to throw a helping hand, there is also a rapidly growing number of locksmith scams to be aware of.
Here are a few interesting facts about locksmith scams you may not be aware of, along with practical tips that should come in handy next time you need to hire a locksmith.
Fact Tip #1: There Are Copycat Locksmiths
There are hundreds of copycats spread all throughout the country. Even if you may spare a few minutes to do your online locksmith search, chances are you will come across copycats of legitimate locksmiths in your own town, but not the actual (and original) services you are looking for.
These copycats do not truly own a local shop on their own, and they are instead run by remote call centers.
There is also the case of locksmiths that advertise themselves as professional and experienced, but who do not have any genuine locksmith skills and knowledge. Make sure you do not let yourself be fooled by the results of a couple of minutes of research online. Try to take as much time as possible and focus on the following aspects:
Fact #2: Scammers Are Slow And Poorly-Trained
It only takes 20 to 30 minutes for a legitimate local locksmith in your area to reach you and take care of the problem. Hiring an out of state locksmith will significantly delay their response time and force you to spend hours in a row staring at your front door, unable to open it. Coming across a con-artist, on the other hand, will definitely delay the response time by a few hours and result in a poorly completed job. These people do not have the right tools or knowledge to complete a lock installation or lock repair and they do not care about improving their skills through continuous education.
Give yourself at least half an hour to an hour for doing research. Take the time to directly get in touch with the services you are considering hiring via phone or email/online forms. Notice their response time – are they fast/professional/trained enough to get the job done? Ask about their estimated time of arrival.
Local locksmiths have a rich experience and they are well-trained. This makes them a lot more efficient. They also come armed with the most advanced tools and software in order to keep up with the latest demands and trends.
Fact #3: Scammers Use Generic Names
If they answer the phone using a generic phrase like “locksmith company” instead of giving you their business name, consider this a big red flag. They should be able and willing to give you their business name as well as any other address and location or licensing details you may ask.
Take a look at former customer reviews and pay particular attention to negative reviews. They will give you a better insight into the kind of technicians you may have come across.
Fact #4: Scammers Try To Overcharge You
If you are calling an emergency locksmith asking for an immediate lockout intervention on your car and it’s 8 in the evening or 2 in the morning, you may be asked to pay a bribe. Most companies work from 9 to 5, and they either do not answer their phone after closing hours, or they overcharge and do not even bother to issue a bill.
There is also the risk of getting a small quite price over the phone, and be charged double or triple on site. This is the so-called switch and bait scam you should be able to avoid by familiarizing yourself with the average, low, and high locksmith prices in the area where you live. Also, make sure to double check the quotes upon their arrival and ask for a written estimate as well. If they refuse to give you one, avoid working with them and call someone else.
Keep in mind the fees charged by an emergency locksmith include everything from licensing costs, transportation, tools, software, mileage, spare parts, emergency hours, and the list goes on. Be prepared to pay some extra charges, but only if they have been previously discussed and explained to you.
Do not cave in to the pressure; there are lots of good locksmiths out there. All you have to do is be patient enough to come across them.