As America’s largest residential locksmith, Mr. Rekey prides itself on providing a quality locksmith service at a low-standard price. Unfortunately, there are some in the locksmith industry who use unscrupulous tactics that exploit consumers’ urgent need to access their property. These so-called locksmiths use tactics like bait-and-switch (advertising a low price service, but then charging exorbitant amounts for labor, service call, and hardware after the job is done), are often unlicensed, and are usually not trained locksmith technicians. We’ve compiled a handy list of tips to follow so you won’t fall victim to one of these scams.
1. Find a Locksmith Before You Need One
The first thing you should do is research locksmiths in your area. Find yourself a trusted locksmith before you actually need them in the case of an emergency and save their contact information to your phone. We’ll outline more tips below to let you know exactly what you’ll need to look for in a trusted locksmith service.
2. Avoid the Cheap Deals
If you’re looking for a locksmith these days, you’re most likely going to Google them, and when you search for “locksmith” in your area, you’ll see a whole list of them. If you look at the image above, you’ll see a sample search of locksmiths in Austin, TX. Notice the search results on the top and the right-hand side? Those are paid ads for locksmith services who’ll do the job for $10-$30. That sounds like a great deal doesn’t it!? Well, 99% of the time that price is just for the service call. When the “locksmith” from those services arrives, you’ll most likely find added fees that range anywhere from $200-$500. Legitimate locksmith services (for this example, those highlighted in green) will almost always quote you the full price of the service call, labor, and hardware up front, and this should usually be about $100.
3. Ask Questions
If you suspect you might be dealing with a fraudulent locksmith, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to ask questions. Here is a list of questions you should ask:
- Ask what the registered business name of their locksmith service? If you happen to call a locksmith and they answer with a simple, “Locksmith Services,” but won’t give you an actual registered business name, it’s probably a good idea to look elsewhere for a locksmith.
- Ask about their licensure. Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia currently require licensure of locksmiths. If you live in one of these states they must supply you with a locksmith license or their businesses’ license number. It will also usually be required to be posted on their van or work vehicle. For those states that don’t require licensure, it’s best to look for a national brand or a well reviewed local service.
- Ask to see their identification, business card, or an invoice with their name and associated business name on it. If none of these match, it’s a good idea to not continue with the service call. Also, be sure to check out their service vehicle. Does it match the branding for the company they say they work for, or is it just a random personal vehicle with no branding. If it’s the latter, it might be a good idea to not use that service.
- Finally, ask for an upfront estimate and itemized invoice of the services they will have to perform. Find out the exact cost of the work they will perform before you authorize the work to be done. If they cannot give you an estimate or seem fuzzy on the numbers, do not authorize them to go forward. They should also provide you with an itemized invoice. If they don’t it will be harder for you to dispute the charges for the services rendered and what you paid for said services. It is also a good idea to request to pay by credit card. That way if there is a dispute, you can work it out with your credit card issuer. This also weeds out illegitimate locksmiths as they are more likely to accept cash-only payments.
4. Don’t Let them Drill!
The biggest red flag you should look for is if a locksmith asks to drill out a lock. Do not, under any circumstances allow them to do so. A legitimate, certified locksmith technician is a wizard of the lock world and can open just about any lock without the need to drill in a short period of time. Drilling usually does more than damage your locks, it can also damage your door or door frame and can result in more work needed than is necessary. Just remember, as this Police Squad clip will show, a good locksmith can pick just about any lock.