Most locksmiths are reputable. They perform their service at the rate listed on their website or quoted over the phone. Unfortunately, there are locksmiths who take advantage of the urgency of most emergency locksmith calls and charge far more than the quoted price. You are faced with a tough choice. You either stay in a dark part of town with a car you need to get back into, or you pay the outrageous fee out of desperation, fear, and frustration. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to avoid such scams.
Local Doesn’t Always Mean Local
Just because you see an ad for a locksmith with a local address or phone number, doesn’t mean that they are located anywhere near you. Some less-than-honest locksmiths will pretend to be local by placing an ad with a fake address or using a phone number that appears to be local, but actually redirects to a calling center physically located halfway across the country. When somebody arrives and charges you way too much for just a few minutes of work, you have little recourse since you can’t get a hold of anybody to complain. Your first step should be to report the company to the Better Business Bureau. They can’t do much if the company’s contact info isn’t legit, but it can be a red flag for others though. If you find an ad for a supposedly local company and don’t see any reviews posted on their website or you just haven’t heard of them, call your local BBB first.
Find a Locksmith before You Need One
Dishonest locksmiths count on the fact that you are stranded, desperate, and not in much of a position to haggle or argue. You never know when you’re going to need a locksmith, but you can at least be prepared when you do need one. You usually have emergency numbers stored on your phone for police, fire department, ambulance, and other services you may need at a moment’s notice. Add locksmith to that list. When you really need a locksmith, you don’t have time to carefully select one. Doing so ahead of time can save you a lot of money when you actually need one. Some tips:
- Once you find a locksmith that looks good based on their ad or website, call your local BBB to double check.
- Look for a locksmith that is a member of The Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc., a group with only reputable locksmiths among its members.
- Choose a locksmith through AAA or ask your auto dealership or regular auto mechanic. They likely have certain trusted locksmiths they use on a regular basis.
If you need a locksmith in a hurry, don’t assume ads in a phone book or online are reputable. Look for a locksmith that you’ve heard of or you know for sure is on the up and up. If you’re not familiar with local locksmiths, call a friend and ask for a suggestion. Another option is to call your car insurance or home insurance agent. They aren’t necessarily going to be experts on locksmiths, but they may be able to provide a reliable recommendation for you. Your best defense against unscrupulous locksmiths is to be as prepared as possible.
Image Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/2967387824/
Wendy Locke is a guest writer for www.locksmith.net where you’ll find information on duplicating keys and having new keys made.