Dishonest Locksmiths Lurk Everywhere

Greedy national locksmith companies masquerade as local businesses to prey on consumers who think they are in no position to haggle. Dependable Locksmith, Basad Inc, and Liberty Locksmith are just a few of the national chains that rip-off distressed consumers, charging up to $500 for simple jobs. From the LA Times:

Legitimate locksmiths say many of those jobs should cost less than $100. In addition, sometimes the work is so shoddy that additional repairs are needed, said the council, which is the umbrella organization for the BBB system.

Dependable was one of the stars of the alert, with the council calling it “a particularly disreputable locksmith.”

Others mentioned in the alert were Basad Inc. and Liberty Locksmith, but each of the companies does business under several additional names.

For example, Dependable — which did not respond to requests for an interview — uses at least 15 other names, according to a BBB report, and 25 telephone numbers.

Most people won’t take the time to find the name and number of a reliable local locksmith in advance. That doesn’t mean you have no options. If you find yourself locked out of your house without a plan, call information and get the numbers of several locksmiths. Shop around from your steps; don’t be shy to compare prices and haggle. The locksmiths aren’t going anywhere, and neither are you.

The key to finding an honest locksmith [LA Times]

(Photo: Maulleigh)

Comments

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  1. qwickone says:

    The problem is, even if you haggle for the best price over the phone, they can still charge you a different price in person. If you’re willing to let them leave and call a different locksmith that would really stick it to them!

  2. Cowboys_fan says:

    I think its cheaper than $500 to replace a broken window. I’d laugh right in their face and call another one in front of them. In fact, I think $100 is still a little steep, after all, it takes only 5 mins to pick an average lock(so I hear ;-))

  3. joeblevins says:

    These aren’t a licensed profession are they? I understand plumbers and electricians charging bugs. But a GED enabled goon with a lock picking kit isn’t special.

    They will charge what they can. It is a free-market here.

    HEADLINE – Some Businesses Charge More for the Same Service

  4. timmus says:

    Good advice: it costs only $2 to hide a duplicate key.

  5. yetiwisdom says:

    Depending on the service you need, you can sometimes get services much cheaper at your local home stores. When we moved into our house with 7 locks and seven different keys, we pulled all the knobs and took them to Home Depot, where they rekeyed them all to match for $28. Minimum Locksmith Estimate: $150

    Also agree regarding hiding an extra. For years I’ve hidden an extra key behind my license plate and one under a stone in my yard. Saved me money and hassle many times.

    For the License Plate one, just get an extra key made then drill the hole out larger so that your standard license-plate mounting screws will fit through. Then undo one of the plate screws and put the key behind the plate, screwing the plate and key in. Don’t tighten it 100%, but enough to be tight but loose enough to unscrew with a dime or penny. Viola! Spare key!

  6. sam says:

    The biggest barrier to shopping around (which I’m sure these companies take advantage of), is that oftentimes folks are in no position to bargain – other than moving into a new apartment, the only time I’ve needed to call a locksmith is when I’ve locked myself out of my apartment in the middle of the night (and that one time my purse with my keys, drivers license, and all sorts of other identifying information was stolen).

  7. marsneedsrabbits says:

    @yetiwisdom:

    I had no idea that Home Depot would do this!!! Thank you so much. I plan to call and ask about it.
    Another possibility is a lock box. We have one on one of the doors, and it takes a 4 digit combination to open. It has saved me a few times when I’ve left my keys behind in the morning rush out the front door. The box really can’t be cut from the door, because it is hardened steel, and it is hidden by the middle part of the storm door, so it is invisible from the yard & sidewalk.
    As for cars… my car has a proximity key, which I didn’t discover until after I’d had non-proximity duplicates made which open the door, but won’t start the engine. I was angry to have wasted the money, until I realized that they were perfect to hide. If the keys are locked inside the car, I can use the non-proximity key to open the door. If the proximity key is with me, the most anyone who finds the spare can do is open the door.

  8. Tizzo says:

    I think $100-$150 is pretty reasonable. You have to remember it’s a specialty service and that part of the cost is just them driving out to the location.

    Now $500 just to get back into your home after locking yourself out is ridiculous and I cannot even think of situation you would pay a locksmith $500 unless we’re talking about a safe of some sort.

  9. jwissick says:

    @timmus: Bad advice. The thieves know ALL the hiding places.
    Good Advice: Give a key to a trusted neighbor or friend who is not too far.

  10. rlee says:

    One caution about calling around. Last time I needed a locksmith (lost my house keys while on a trip), I called a couple different numbers out of the Yellow Pages more-or-less at random, and got the same guy at both numbers. He was not amused.

  11. Learn how to pick locks yourself. It is easy, fun, and save yourself money in the long run.

    [www.tian.cc]

  12. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Cowboys_fan:

    My brother locked himself out of his 77 Nova at the post office. It was -50F outside, and he had left his Maltese terrier in the car. If he didn’t get in soon, that dog was going to die.

    So he went across the street to the police station. He told them he was locked out of his car and asked if they had a slim jim. No, they told him, they did not.

    So he went back across the street to our friends’ pharmacy next to the post office. He asked the pharmacist if there was a hammer he could borrow. The pharmacist did not ask why, just said “Sure, I’ll go get it.”

    Then he went back into the post office, holding the hammer, and said to everyone in the lobby “That is my car outside, I am going to break into it. I am not stealing it.”

    Then he busted out the smallest window on the car, unlocked it, and saved the dog.

    He went back to the pharmacy to return the hammer. The pharmacist asked him “so what did you need the hammer for?” He tells him. The pharmacist replied “Why didn’t you ask for a coat hanger?”


    Anyhow, it only cost about 40 bucks for a replacement window.

  13. startertan says:

    @TechnoDestructo:

    Now THAT is a funny story.

    It’s hard to trust neighbors nowadays especially given that there seems to be a decline in neighbors getting to know each other (at least in my neighborhood). Besides you never know if that neighbor’s son/daughter/cousin/or the neighbor themselves will take the key and break into your house to steal your crap.

  14. Edinboron says:

    At many shopping malls, parking lot security carries the necessary tools to unlock a car. Also, many paid parking garages have an employee who will jumpstart or unlock your car for you. If they have it, it’s covered as part of the temporary contract you have with the parking garage. It shouldn’t cost anything but tips are appreciated.

    If you are locked out of your car also think about tow truck drivers or cab drivers, they sometimes have the necessary tools and don’t mind picking up some extra money off the books. Just use caution when flaggin someone down.

  15. nffcnnr says:

    i have the “roadside assistance” feature on my car insurance with progressive. it costs $7 a month, and lock-outs are part of the coverage, as i found out yesterday. :o] i had forgotten my keys at the office and was using my spare car key i keep hidden on my vehicle by way of a magnet epoxied to it. i locked that key in my car when i went to retrieve a spare house key from my landlord. Duh!

  16. MoCo says:

    A shelf support bracket works nicely as a “slim-jim”. They can be purchased for a few dollars at Home Depot and lots of other places.

  17. bbbici says:

    It’s not just about losing your key. Sometimes a lock’s internals break, or you break a key in the lock.

  18. forever_knight says:

    @rlee: yes, i can see how he wouldn’t be amused. were you amused that he used two different companies or two different phone numbers? did you end up using this guy?

  19. Marce says:

    I had an ex with a kind of nice Mitsubishi Mirage that could not be unlocked from the outside with the key. Why? Oh, he locked himself out one night and they damaged the lock beyond (cheap) repair getting him back in.

  20. justchad says:

    DO NOT ever bust out the small windows!! they cost 3 to 5 times as much as the door window, even more than your windshield!! If you plan on getting it fixed right away always bust out the passenger window(so your not sitting on glass), its way cheaper.