Protected By Cops, Emergency Locksmith Rips Woman Off For $613

A woman blogs that she found herself locked out of her apartment because her keys were getting stuck and the lock wasn’t working. So she called an emergency locksmith who arrived 15 minutes later, drilled off the cylinder, replaced it, and presented her with a bill for $613. When she refused to pay, the locksmith called (what were presumably) the cops. When they arrived the said, “Pay the man now or you’re under arrest.”

The emergency locksmith ripoff is not new. A normal locksmith would have charged around $60-$80 for this deed. Often shady locksmiths will snare you in by advertising the lowest price in the phone book. This is why it’s important to:

  • Agree on an estimate before they start services
  • Find a local reliable locksmith before you need one, and put their number in your cellphone.
  • If you can’t come to an agreement before services begin, sleep at a friend’s house and wait until morning when you can call the regular local hardware store or locksmith guy.

Eventually the woman walked to her bank ATM, followed by the locksmith and the cops in their cars, where she withdrew the money and paid him the full $613.

This is Something That Happened To Me [No Great Illusion] (Thanks to Elle!)

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Comments

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  1. sendmoney2me says:

    cheaper to just bust a window and crawl in ;)

    • nutbastard says:

      same for most cars, had to do this once when i was already late for work and the keys were locked in. i know better methods now, but at the time it was the only viable option. cost about $40 to get another window.

      • SG-Cleve says:

        You bust a car window, you’ll always be finding little pieces of glass in the car for as long as you own it.

      • Beeker26 says:

        Side windows on my truck are $200 each. This is why I give at least one close friend and relative a copy of my key, and carry another copy on me.

    • imasqre says:

      Unless she can’t access a window, like in an apartment building.
      Same thing happened to me.. but he ripped me off for $60 total
      I’d have been so stubborn, I’ve have gotten arrested lol.

  2. Mold says:

    Ummm..’emergency’? That raises the price. And the amount serves to dissuade the lazy from calling

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      How are you dissuaded from calling when you aren’t told it will be $631 up front?

    • Chaosium says:

      “And the amount serves to dissuade the lazy from calling “

      The word “exploitation” doesn’t exist in your native language, I’m assuming. Your rationale is bullshit, the work is nowhere near 600$ for ten minutes or less, and the COSTS ARE NOT UP FRONT, hence the price-dissuasion is not a factor you can use to excuse.

      • Oddfool says:

        Working in the service industry, I can see how the charge can add up quickly. Most companies like this have a call-out fee, and a minimum time for service, usually 1 hour minimum. And those charges are usually much higher for an after-hours call. (such as 12:30-1:00 A.M. tend to be.) Not sure, but many companies have Martin Luther King day as a holiday which also tend to have a higher cost.

        The dispatch should have at least informed her of a minimum charge involved with the call-out and minimum hourly. Dispatch might not know how long the job would take, or all the components needed until the tech was on-site.
        So far, just him showing up was going to be costly.

        And you are not just calling someone out to just drill out a lock. Since he replaced the lock, that shows he has to drive around carrying stock with him for multiple types of locks, and the tools necessary to perform the job.

        There are many costs involved with service industry (locksmith, plumber, service technician) between insurance, training, office overhead, etc.

        • Chaosium says:

          “And you are not just calling someone out to just drill out a lock. Since he replaced the lock, that shows he has to drive around carrying stock with him for multiple types of locks, and the tools necessary to perform the job.”

          He has a drill, a screwdriver, and a door lock. You’re overestimating the quality of work here. These are not employees from legitimate locksmiths, you don’t understand what “mobile locksmiths” do.

      • SabreDC says:

        Should people who use the ER at the hospital when they have a headache and are given $0.10 ibuprofen be charged ER prices or normal doctor prices or normal off-the-shelf medicine prices? She used an emergency service, she pays an emergency price.

    • avenger339 says:

      “And the amount serves to dissuade the lazy from calling “

      The lazy? It’s the job of the locksmith to go to people’s houses and open locked doors. Why, exactly, would the locksmith want to deter people from giving them business, when that IS their business?

    • avenger339 says:

      “And the amount serves to dissuade the lazy from calling “

      The lazy? It’s the job of the locksmith to go to people’s houses and open locked doors. Why, exactly, would the locksmith want to deter people from giving them business, when that IS their business?

    • chatnoir80 says:

      Isn’t this price gouging? I would imagine that it doesn’t matter if it’s an emergency. Down here in the South, whenever there is a hurricane coming gas stations and grocery stores can’t artificially inflate there prices just b/c a storm is coming. I would hope the same reasoning would be applied to when calling a locksmith for after hour situations.

      • bluline says:

        Such laws often have unintended consequences. When prices are kept artificially low on products that are in high demand and short supply, it enables those who get to the products first to hoard them, thereby reducing the supply available to everyone else. For instance, if a hotel owner away from the coast can’t raise his room prices when a hurricane is approaching, a single family might take several rooms (one for mom and dad, one for the kids, and a third for grandma) instead of taking just one and making do. That leaves fewer rooms available for others who might desperately need one. On the other hand, if the owner can raise his rates, it discourages selfish people from hogging all the rooms and makes more of them available to others.

        • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

          I don’t know many families who, when in a emergency, make decisions to aver to leisure instead of “let’s get the hell out of where we were”.

          Do you believe that the benefits provided by the explicit goal (to prevent price gouging and predatory behavior by merchants) outweighs these “unintended consequences” you speak of?

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I’ve experienced this from other contractors also. If I need something done at my house I can get a quote but it’s rarely held even if it is in writing because they’ll say that unforeseen issues came up. What do I do? I have to pay because it’s my house.

      I’ve also noticed another game that contractor’s will play and they will tell me that to get a quote from them, I have to agree that they will do the job. I then tell them that that is not the way it’s done. I get three quotes and then decide who is going to do the work. They then whine about having to drive to my place, spend their time writing a quite, blah, blah, blah.

      Amazing arrogance and I’ve told a few what I think. I even had a Sears guy tell me that he would not give me a quote unless I agree first to him doing to installation work.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        I don’t know where you’re finding these yahoos, but if someone started to piss and moan about having to write up a bid without a guarantee of work, I’d walk away immediately and call one of the other ten jillion underemployed contractors floating around. It’s standard and understood among reputable workmen that their time to evaluate and write bids for jobs they may not get is part of the cost of doing business.

        • Clyde Barrow says:

          I agree and I’ve done just that. Any contractor that wants work for little more than confirming a quote does not get my money. I have two contracting services for my home and they are solid reputable businesses in the Northern Metro Detroit area. I won’t hire those guys that leave their numbers on my front door because I’ve learned those types are losers.

          Oh and by the way, that Sears guy that wanted to do the work for getting a quote? I just remembered that he made a snide remark about how he “used his gas” to drive to my house. I remember he said this as he walked outside to his car. What a loser.

      • rambo76098 says:

        That’s when you walk away and find a real contractor. If they want the business, they can provide a free estimate. That is a standard expectation in the contracting business.

        We bid out most jobs at work and there may be 5 contractors bidding, only one gets the work. Tough luck, should have bid lower.

    • NickelMD says:

      Look. If I see you in the ER, spend 30 minutes suturing the hand you sliced open I make about half what he charged.

      He’s gouging. And I would not even be surprised if this was a scam. Gum up a lock, wait for the call, charge an exorbitant amount, get your friends dressed as cops to come threaten jail if you don’t pay and the crooks split the money.

  3. Alvis says:

    Neater sollution: learn to pick locks. I’ve been locked out and just had to swing by the local drug store for a few paperclips to get back in.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      Any tips to start? I tried as a kid and, after getting nowhere, gave up in a puff of apathy.

      • c!tizen says:

        The most common method used to today is to obtain a key. Hope that helps.

      • Alvis says:

        Read about how they work, take them apart, and practice until you can picture what’s going on inside the lock as you manipulate it. Practice is really the key – no pun intended.

      • SuperFlyJedi says:

        I learned by playing around with a 3 tumbler lock (just a basic lock and key) and using a bent bobby pin. Of course it took a few hours the first time…..I recommend “eating a sandwich” first.

      • MTFaye says:

        Its actually much much easier than you would think, provided you know the mechanics of a lock and how to use the “rake” technique. Search youtube or buy a cheapo book. Theres even websites where you can order professional picksets with instruction booklets. Just ignore everything except the rake technique. That one is the easiest and works on nearly all door and padlocks. And if you don’t want to do that, you can make a pretty decent pick set with some bobby pins and pliers. Just be sure to read up on your local laws.

      • The cake is a lie! says:

        Just look it up on the web. Lots of youtube videos and stores that sell lock picking tools. I carry a set of bump keys and an 18 piece pick set in my backpack. It has come in handy on numerous occassions when someone has locked themselves out of their office at work or one of my neighbors somehow gets locked out.

        It is actually surprising how much information is available out there on this kind of thing. You don’t even need any credentials to get lock picking tools.

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          I don’t know about your state but if you were ever caught with those picks it could be an issue.

          Here in Texas they are considered burglary tools, and it is illegal to posses them with the intent to commit burglary. I have no idea why the lawmakers decided to turn our cops into mind readers, but I would generally not carry them on my person to avoid any potential hassle.

          • JiminyChristmas says:

            Oh, they don’t have to read your mind. If you have ‘burglary tools’ on you and the police decide you are doing something suspicious, there’s your ‘Intent’ charge.

            You sometimes see the same thing with drug charges. In college I had a pair of friends who smoked a lot of marijuana. If they had bought quantities small enough to keep them out of serious trouble if caught with it they would have been out buying every other day. Instead, they bought large quantities. One time I saw them with a cereal box that was half full of buds. (Half of this duo had much more money than sense.) If they had been caught with it, there is no doubt they would have been charged with ‘Possession with Intent to Distribute’ – based solely on the quantity they had. However, make no mistake, their intent was to smoke every bit of it themselves.

            • NatalieErin says:

              In some states, that “intent to distribute” charge gets tacked on automatically for quantities above a specified limit.

        • Papa Bear says:

          It is illegal in virtually all 50 states and any federal reserve, such as a National Park, to posses a lock picking kit without a locksmith’s license.

          • drizzt380 says:

            I know that if you actually looked that up, you would find that most of the 50 states do not in fact require licensing to own lockpicks.

            15 or 20 do make it illegal to have lockpicks without a license but that is no where near a majority.

          • InfoDump says:

            No. No it’s not.

    • TheMonkeyKing says:

      It’s not that she forgot her key, it’s because the key was getting stuck in the lock. Picking frozen springs or worn latches would not have helped her here.

      • Alvis says:

        I read the article. I’m speaking of lock-outs in general.

      • Chaosium says:

        “It’s not that she forgot her key, it’s because the key was getting stuck in the lock. Picking frozen springs or worn latches would not have helped her here. “

        Yes, it would. You’re sticking picks in, not a key. It was GETTING stuck in the lock. It was not actually stuck in the lock permanently, drilling was not required (but it’s all these douchebags know how to do.)

        • AustinTXProgrammer says:

          From her blog: It turned easily and I could hear it click, but the door wouldn’t open no matter how hard I pushed. It still felt locked.

          The lock was busted, no picking that.

          • Chaosium says:

            Wrong. It wouldn’t turn with the key she was using. That doesn’t mean that it’s unpickable.

            • foofad says:

              Again, you’re not getting it. The cylinder was turning. The key was working to turn the cylinder. The lock was apparently broken between the cylinder and the bolt. Picking it would have done nothing in this case because no matter how many times you turn it, it would not actuate the bolt.

              • delphi_ote says:

                Funny how Captain Locksmith suddenly disappeared after you patiently explained exactly how the lock was broken. Not “Sorry, I misunderstood.” or “Thanks for clearing that up for me.”

                And, seriously, thanks for clearing that up for me. It’s great to learn things from blog comments (rare though it may be!)

              • zibby says:

                Don’t bother, pal – these people are so proud of their lock-picking skills that they’re going to tell you they can pick a broken lock no matter what you say. Probably fix it in the process, too!

            • SabreDC says:

              Even if that’s the case, saying ” drilling was not required (but it’s all these douchebags know how to do.)” is pretty stupid. It’s not like she’d want to pick the lock every time she got home from work. The lock may have been pickable, but it certainly wasn’t usable.

    • full.tang.halo says:

      Not exactly the same, but I used a couple of paperclips to get into my GF’s pickup when she locked her keys in it. Nearest family member with a copy would have taken over 3 hours to get to us. Managed to pop the back slider with a bit of work. Then a cop showed up, was thankfully really nice, ran the tags to make sure we weren’t stealing it and complemented me on my ingenuity.

    • Jonesey says:

      Thanks Captain Hindsight!

    • RTWinter says:

      Its also fun! I had to do it in the school’s machine shop because we tripped a circuit breaker by accident and the teacher couldn’t find his key. Used a flathead screwdriver and a paper clip.

  4. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    She did not ask what it would cost FIRST?

    • danmac says:

      She asked what it would cost and they wouldn’t give her an estimate over the phone. Yes, she was naive not to ask the locksmith in person, but it sounds like a scammy operation, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he was non-committal if she had asked him as well. Also, I’m sure that if he told her the price after arriving and she declined the service, he would then hit her up with a similarly extortionate amount for driving there.

    • Necoras says:

      Standard locksmith tactic. They’ll claim $50 over the phone, then show up and tell you that it’ll be $200. Or show up, unlock it and then hand you a bill for $200. This is even more common when it’s your car that you’re locked out of.

      • unsmith says:

        So then you refuse the $200 quote, and if the locksmith gets bitchy and calls the cops, reference the $50 quote over the phone. He doesn’t touch your property until you both agree to a price, that way if you are charged more, it’s a form of bait-and-switch. Simple.

        • Chaosium says:

          “So then you refuse the $200 quote, and if the locksmith gets bitchy and calls the cops, reference the $50 quote over the phone. “

          That didn’t work in this case.

          • trentblase says:

            She did not get a quote in this case. She asked for one and they said they would not provide one. Big red flag, if you ask me.

            BTW, the other day I went to a restaurant and ordered a bunch of food. I guess I should have asked for a menu or something because when I was done, they wanted to charge me $100. A cop showed up and made me pay them! That jerk!

            • sagodjur says:

              That’s not an accurate analogy. You weren’t starving (i.e. in an emergency) and the restaurant didn’t refuse to tell you the prices until after you ate the meal. Try again.

              • trentblase says:

                You are right. An accurate analogy would be that I went to the only restaurant open after midnight. I asked them how much the food was and they said “we can’t tell you, you’ll just have to find out”. I took the risk and ordered food anyway.

                Let’s face it, this was not a true emergency. OP could have waited 8 hours and saved $600. Accepting service without getting a quote is stupid. The locksmith should have provided one, but as far as I know it’s not required by law. What is required by law, however, is paying for service you receive.

                By the way, my original analogy was far more entertaining.

                • Chaosium says:

                  “Let’s face it, this was not a true emergency.”

                  Absolutely irrelevant. Doesn’t justify the scam.

            • Chaosium says:

              “She did not get a quote in this case. She asked for one and they said they would not provide one. “

              Oh, I agree that she should have called someone else, but I believe they all refuse to provide quotes beforehand. The other problem is that multiple “mobile locksmiths” all ring back to the same guy, under different names.

      • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

        Fun fact: When your small child is locked in the car, you can call emergency services. I learned that the hard way. The firemen were very nice about it though.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      RTFA….after doing so…then come back and post…

  5. Hi_Hello says:

    wow… she got scammed and went on a ride with the scammer to the bank. After he take her money, who knows what else he could have done.

  6. axiomatic says:

    I bet there was a perfectly viable fire axe in the hallway somewhere to chop your way in. That damage would still have been cheaper than $613.

    Lets talk about that $613 as well… whats the $13 for? Isn’t $600 outrageous enough shady locksmiths?

    • youbastid says:

      Sure, but then you have a wide open door. You call an emergency locksmith not just to get in, but so you still have a lock on your door.

    • Papa Bear says:

      (1) Not her property so breaking down the door would be criminal damage to property. (2) A decent entrance door can run upwards of $500 and another several hundred to hang it. (3) Now she has to call out an emergency door guy with a min. trip charge of at least $200 plus materials to hang a temp. door. That $200 is based on the emergency trip charge in my little city of 100,000. Probably closer to twice that in NYC. (4) quite possible in NYC, the door is a steel door or at least has a steel core. (5) Cops showed up with her yielding an axe, she would probably end up in the morgue.

      • grumpygirl says:

        #4, steel door, not true. i recently had to replace what i thought was a steel fire door (was just metal with wood inside) and could not find anyone in brooklyn to do this. residential apartments do not have steel doors.

        • Papa Bear says:

          The logic that yours did not have a steel door, hence none have steel doors, is extremely false logic and poor thinking. Besides, steel doors almost all have fibrous cores of some sort, even those with metal cores are only layered. They are not solid steel by any means.

    • notgoodenough says:

      $13 for the lock, $600 for knowing where to drill.

  7. Hi_Hello says:

    sorry I just read the article. She walked to the ATM while the locksmith followed her in his car.

  8. Mobius says:

    To clarify, she wasn’t driven to the bank. She asked the police to drive her and they told her to walk so she did. The locksmith followed in his own car and the police in theirs.

  9. hypnotik_jello says:

    How is it a criminal offense warranting immediate arrest? If anything this should be a civil suit matter adjudicated in civil court.

  10. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    This happened to us – and the guy !%()*!&) up our lock when he popped it too. Cost us about $200 for the courtesy

  11. lifeat24fps says:

    “About the blogger: Caroline is a twenty-something former film student, frequent subway-crier and headboard enthusiast. She lives in Brooklyn.”

    I was feeling sorry for her until I read that.

  12. Andyb2260 says:

    PAID not “payed”

  13. deejmer says:

    Dude, he figuratively and literally took her to the bank.

  14. Rachacha says:

    At least the woman made an attempt to determine the price…from the blog post “I asked how much it would cost on the phone, but the dispatcher told me that they couldn’t give me that information and wouldn’t know until they worked on the lock.”

    • keyman424 says:

      This is how they do it. They refuse to give a price but many times they will tell you the charge is 35.00 plus 15.00 and up to unlock the door. Many people think the charge would be no more than a hundred dollars. The scam phony locksmiths cant even pick a lock they just drill them and destroy them setting the consumer up for additional charges for installing a new lock usually a 5.00 fleamarket grade lock that falls apart a week later they will charge you 100 or 200 for this xtra ad on.

  15. snobum says:

    This is even more important – make sure you agree to a price OVER THE PHONE BEFORE THEY EVEN SHOW UP.

    My key once broke in my lock and it was too far in to align the key correctly. They showed up, gave me a ridiculous price. It was the middle of the night but I was willing to stick it out. They quickly lowered it (still unreasonable) so I said no. They claimed I owed them for the trip out there then. I forget how much they wanted because it was a few years ago, but be warned. I eventually got them to come down a little more (still much more than I wanted) and just agreed so they would go away. Who knows what these guys would have done to me. BTW, it was about 30 seconds worth of work.

    • GMFish says:

      BTW, it was about 30 seconds worth of work.

      You’re not paying for the work. You’re paying for the knowledge on how to do the work.

      • Chaosium says:

        “You’re not paying for the work. You’re paying for the knowledge on how to do the work.”

        You’re not paying for the knowledge on how to do the work. There is no training required to drill a lock, which is how those “mobile locksmith” businesses operate. You’re paying for the “convenience”.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        Sometimes for them to have the right tools, I mean lock smithing doesn’t require a genius.

  16. outis says:

    My dad taught us that if we got locked out and HAD to get in, we were to climb into the attic (unfinished space, accessed from the garage) with a saw and cut through into the kitchen. I guess the drywall was cheaper than any of our picture windows.

  17. Red Cat Linux says:

    Crap, $613… This is why we always left a spare set of keys with a close friend or relative.

    Then instead of crashing in the home of a good friend, you call them and they either come by with the keys, or you go get em.

    Where I live now, the community is fairly close knit. I fear that if a burglar broke into just one house, and thought to use random keys found there in the neighboring houses, we’d all have been burgled.

    • K-Bo says:

      wouldn’t help, she had a key, the lock was broken

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        I am unable to read the full article, since the firewall here is a cruel, cruel, jailor.

        I’ve had keys that get blunted to the point of not working, while the lock worked fine with other keys. Get a new key, problem solved.

        The only time I’ve had to change the locks/cylinders was when I actually wanted to use a different key. I kinda thought this was a similar situation. After all, if you have one key and one lock and they aren’t working together, how do you know it’s not the key?

  18. 6T9 says:

    Locksmith is a greedy Dick, like most assholes.

  19. PLATTWORX says:

    Why:

    1. Did she not call her landlord before HIRING a locksmith?
    2. She HIRED the locksmith, therefore she is responsible for paying the locksmith.
    3. She should have asked for a quote BEFORE letting him do the work.

    Yes, she was ripped off, but she walked right into this one.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      All your questions are answered if you follow the link to the original article. Long story short, they gave her a runaround about the price, saying they wouldn’t know until they saw the lock, etc.

      Still, she should have told them up front she didn’t want them to do any work until they quoted a price after seeing the lock.

      • SabreDC says:

        I mean, I see their point. I used to fix computers for people. All the time, I’d get questions like “My computer doesn’t work, how much will it cost to fix?” Sometimes, you just don’t know the cost until you get in there and see the problem. I think it’s fine to say that you can’t give a quote without seeing the problem. BUT, they should charge a flat fee, like $25, to diagnose the issue when they get out there (and disclose that over the phone). Then, tell the customer how much it will cost after looking at the problem and let them decide if they want to pay.

        • Shadowman615 says:

          Exactly. Works the same way with cars usually. At least in Maryland where I am you’re entitled to an estimate before any work is performed when it’s going to be more than $25 — and the shops even have to post a sign or something informing customers about this.

          But there seems to be an oversupply of shady locksmiths out there who purposefully do things the way this company did.

    • Hank Scorpio says:

      “Landlord” was my first thought, too. If it’s an apartment building, why didn’t she call the landlord or building management to fix the lock?

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      From the link: “My super does not live in Brooklyn, nor does he take calls at this late hour, so I called a locksmith.”

    • theduckay says:

      Why:

      1. Did you not RTFA?

    • Chaosium says:

      “3. She should have asked for a quote BEFORE letting him do the work.”

      Mobile locksmiths with no actual place of business ALWAYS LIE ABOUT THE PRICE. ALWAYS. They would never have any customers if they were honest up front.

      • Oddfool says:

        She was not quoted a price by the dispatch, and later given a higher price. Dispatch was unable to provide a price as the locksmith needed to evaluate the lock to determine what was needed. Whether it just needed lubricating, or adjusting, all the way to needing a replacement lock.

        She should have at least been given a general minimum amount (call-out fee and their minimum labor charge…usually 1-hour minimum.)

        She also did not state whether the locksmith was an “Emergency lock-out” type of locksmith or a “Regular” locksmith. Most “regular” locksmiths would also charge a higher rate for an after-normal-business hours call. Not to mention that it was a holiday night/early morning call (Not sure how that one falls since not all companies follow MLK.)

        Can’t comment more about this, unless she provides an itemized bill showing what all added up to the total.

        • Chaosium says:

          “Dispatch was unable to provide a price as the locksmith needed to evaluate the lock to determine what was needed. Whether it just needed lubricating, or adjusting, all the way to needing a replacement lock.”

          You miss the point.

          The “diagnosis” is never to repair the lock.

          Mobile locksmiths do not have the equipment to repair or pick the lock.

          ALL THEY CARRY is a drill and the new lock.

  20. Shadowman615 says:

    Honestly I’d rather let the cops go ahead and arrest me before giving that guy $613. Not a chance in hell anything they charged you with would ever stick.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I’m betting that the cop was friends with the locksmith.

      • BBBB says:

        “I’m betting that the cop was friends with the locksmith.”

        Normally, cops do not want to get involved in civil disputes – especially city cops.

    • TuxedoCartman says:

      On top of that, you would have a nice lawsuit for false imprisonment you could file, then use the money recovered to pay the amount rewarded to the locksmith in the suit he filed against you (like he should have done to start with).

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      I sure wouldn’t make that tradeoff. Given the choice of spending the night in jail plus getting a brand spanking new arrest record, or paying $613, as distasteful as it might be, paying the $613 is the least worst deal. And that’s the best case scenario, wherein a DA declines to file charges.

      If you get charged, no matter what happens after that, $613 is going to look like a bargain. Even a good outcome for you, say where the charge gets thrown out of criminal court, will require at least one hearing, for which you will need to hire a lawyer.

      Lastly, in either of these best or good scenarios, you would still owe the locksmith something, because they did provide a service. Maybe $300 would be a high, but not outlandish, charge. So, do you really want to go to jail over $313?

    • grumpygirl says:

      in NYC on a holiday weekend? you’ll be in the tombs for at least 24 hours. i know people who were stuck in there for the weekend, with no phone call, for riding a bike on the sidewalk

      • clickable says:

        In NYC, riding a bike on the sidewalk is illegal, at least for an adult. Fun fact I learned a couple of months ago in an article about a child charged with hitting a pedestrian. I can’t remember if the child fell under the age limit, but I do remember learning this factoid.
        It’s a crummy reason to arrest someone and hold them for any length of time, don’t get me wrong – but as it happens, the example you chose to illustrate the point happens to be legitimately illegal.

  21. ubermex says:

    631 is enough that it would be cheaper to break a small window.

  22. Speak says:

    I would have told the cop to arrest me if he had to, but he had to arrest the locksmith too, because I was pressing charges against him for scamming me. I would also send this bill to my landlord ASAP.

    • Papa Bear says:

      Broken locks are generally not the landlord’s responsibility. Absent a housing code or contractual provision, tenants usually have the responsibility to make minor repairs as needed regardless of whether or not the damages were the tenant’s fault.

      • RandomHookup says:

        A lot of factors involved, but generally the landlord is going to be responsible for providing a workable lock. If it breaks (beyond abuse), he would have to repair it.

        • Papa Bear says:

          Not necessarily true. Most statutes and court rulings have supported the idea that as long as there is no housing code violation, statutory rule or contractual provision, minor repairs that don’t affect tenability are the responsibility of the tenant as long the cost of repairs is reasonable in relation to the rent. I don’t know the housing code of NYC, but where I live, you would be correct. However, I checked a couple of other area codes, and they had no provisions for locks. I’d bet you are right in NYC, but this is a situation where she felt she needed the work done.

    • fauxrage says:

      Why should the landlord pay because she lost her keys? It wasn’t his fault.

  23. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It would have been cheaper to smash out a window and then get it replaced.

    It definitely sounds like a scam operation. If the dispatcher refused to give a quote over the phone and the locksmith wouldn’t agree on a price before doing the work, then pick up the yellow pages and find someone else.

    I also don’t understand why the police got involved for a contract dispute. If they truly threatened to arrest her, then it needs to be reported up the chain-of-command.

  24. ajaxd says:

    While expecting 60-80 dollar bill at 1AM in NYC is unreasonable, over 600 is excessive. In such situations I pay with a credit card and then dispute the charge. While not very ethical either it’s a better alternative to being ripped off on the spot like that.

    She was offered to make a card imprint, which is illegal. This is even better – I’d agree to it and then call credit card immediately with no second thoughts.

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      Agreed. The good thing about credit cards are they can easily be canceled.

    • stevied says:

      Congrats. You just admitted on the interweb that you knowingly will engage in services or purchase products with the intent to cancel the rightful charges.

      BTW, fraud is a two way street. Merchant fraud and consumer fraud. Your CC provider will be happy to hear about your activities and will be especially diligent with regards to your account. I bet you could even find your CC being cancelled because of suspicious consumer activity.

    • psm321 says:

      Since when is using card imprints illegal? (honest question)

    • donjumpsuit says:

      I’ll back you up ajaxd.

      Meanwhile, consumers everywhere are being pined to the ground and forced to be moral and exhibit good character beyond a reasonable doubt, while credit card companies are busy charging you $35 when you are a day late in your payments, and sending out forclosure squads because they bought out congress to eliminate several rules governing lending which got us into this mess.

      Listen stevied, Fraud may be a two way street, but so is morality. Do unto others as you expect to be done to you.

  25. Southern says:

    I’m really having difficulty believing the authenticity of this story.

  26. Chaosium says:

    You should not be allowed to call yourself a “locksmith” if the extent of your training is drilling locks. Anyone with a drill can do this.

  27. kylere1 says:

    Cheaper to replace the door and frame after I kicked it in. The “locksmith” needs to be named to prevent him from trying this on other dumb people.

  28. Dr.Wang says:

    This is a good example of why when i shop online i never do business with vendors from the new york city area.

  29. brianisthegreatest says:

    I guess I would have went to jail.

  30. Kate says:

    When I was young, I had this problem with a tow truck service that was called by the cops after an accident – when we got home, I was told to pay triple the quoted amount and that he would just take my car if I didn’t, and he wouldn’t take a credit card.

    Still ticks me off today.

    • grumpygirl says:

      i called AAA about locked keys in my car and they had a local person call. i was given a price. guy came and said he needed “special tools” so it cost me about $100 more for him to use a “balloon” thing to make a space for him to shove a hanger through. stupidly didn’t get a receipt, and no amount of fighting with AAA got that $$ back.

      it’s hard to think straight when you’re freaked out and feeling vulnerable/threatened. worse, if the police are there.

  31. arizonaadam says:

    Very clearly a rip-off job. Surprised by the police response. The only way that would be a criminal matter is if she called for service INTENDING not to pay. I’d report the cops.

  32. shepd says:

    Wow, I can’t believe the cops did that. I worked for an hour getting some a**holes satellite dish setup (it had a rotator that was junk, otherwise, yes, 10 minutes, tops) and they refused to pay. Called the cops and they said “it’s a civil matter, sue them”.

    I officially banned them from the store for life instead, since it costs more than the cost of the work to sue these people, via registered mail. I was the only store for 50 miles that would do the work and that sold the equipment. I assume he still has no satellite TV.

    • Kate says:

      It doesn’t sound like real cops. Real cops don’t make these kinds of visits and this was a civil matter that they don’t bother with.

  33. donjumpsuit says:

    Honestly?
    It’s time for Judge Judy.

  34. GearheadGeek says:

    Well, I will assign PARTIAL blame to the OP for not calling another locksmith when the first number refused any quote over the phone. Any reputable vendor should be able to say “Minimum charge is $X for the guy to show up after hours, $Y/hr for work, any parts or hardware will be extra….” or something to that effect.

    Clearly it’s a ridiculous amount, and there’s something fishy about the cops’ behavior. It might be worth checking with the PD or E911 system to see if a 911 call was actually placed, or if scumbag locksmith called his scumbag buddy who happens to be a cop on duty on weeknights.

    I don’t know enough about the UCC to know if the OP has any hope in small claims, but it might be fun to drag the scumbag down there and piss him off… though of course pissing off someone who can unlock your doors whenever he wants carries its own set of risks.

  35. lstorm2003 says:

    Ths s bs. Th cps dd nt fllw hr t th tm t gt mn. Ths s cvl mttr nt crmnl n nd dbt th cps wld gt nvlvd…

  36. goller321 says:

    Cops have right to force the payment… this is a civil matter.

  37. Sandstar says:

    I wonder if the cops were fake. That’s possibly why they wouldn’t drive her, cause then she’d know they were fake.

  38. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Wow. I locked myself out once and ended up breaking the glass on the storm door to get in. I’m glad I did that, instead of calling an emergency guy.

    The locksmith who installed the new deadbolt I had to have after that didn’t screw me over. Neither have the car unlockers I’ve had to call, although it’s not cheap. Now I have a spare key available just in case. If I locked my keys in the car AND locked myself out, I’d be in big doo-doo.

  39. damicatz says:

    Cops are thugs. It’s nice to know when business interests are threatened, the cops are there to protect the businesses but when businesses rip off consumers, it’s a “civil matter”.

    There are laws against deceptive trade practices. See NY GBL § 349. The police officer needs to take a remedial course in basic law.

  40. waltcoleman says:

    Though she should have verified the cost up front, a simple solution would have been to lie. “We agreed on $113, not $613.”

    Without a written contract it’s your word against the locksmith, the cops aren’t going to take sides.

    • Kate says:

      If they were real cops. Doesn’t sound like it. With the recession, anymore you can’t get a cop to show up even if someone came and robbed your house, unless they are still in there with a gun.

    • evnmorlo says:

      The locksmith probably has printed invoices noting the $500 emergency surcharge.

  41. KenyaDigIt says:

    Police are generally oblivious when it comes to issues of civil law, but it’s surprising how often they’ll enforce it anyway. I remember reading this one case where a landlord wanted to evict a tenant, so he calls up a police officer, explains the situation and asks if he can evict the tenant legally. The police officer tells him “Sure!”. They go down to the apartment and no one is home, so the police officer helps the landlord break into the apartment, remove the belongings of the tenant, and change the locks. The tenant sues for trespassing, breaking and entering, and wrongful eviction and wins a $20,000 judgment against the landlord, even though he was working under the direction of the police officer. Guess who got stuck with that bill?

  42. HighontheHill says:

    The police should not have been involved in this dispute and should be fired for their actions… Dirty rotten pigs.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Yeah, because theft of services isn’t the police’s concern. Try walking out of a restaurant without paying, and see how that goes for you.

  43. VicMatson says:

    Why would the police get involved, did she break any laws?

  44. VicMatson says:

    And while I’m at it, I wonder who put some sort of gunk in the lock…that locksmith was just to handy!

  45. SG-Cleve says:

    She should put the locksmith’s name in her article so that anyone looking him up on the Internet will find ths information.

  46. bugpaste says:

    A couple summers ago I was housesitting in an isolated subdivision outside of town where my cell phone barely worked. The homeowners were two states over. I come home from lunch and grocery shopping to find the deadbolt in the front door has broken and I can’t get in. There’s a hungry dog inside and it’s about 90 degrees out.

    I believe this counts as a minor-to-moderate emergency. So I call the homeowners, trying not to panic, and they interrupt their vacation to call some locksmiths (my cell phone doesn’t have internet access and at the time I didn’t know about Google 411). Four or five refused to come to the house without a police escort since I wasn’t the homeowner*. One finally agreed. But he couldn’t come for another four hours, which at this point was after dark. In an isolated neighborhood where my cell phone barely works and has a nearly-dead battery. AND I had to toss delicious leftovers, yogurt, and ice cream.

    It was a very bad day. And since then I’ve had a deep and abiding dislike of locksmiths.

    *Earlier that year I got locked out of my apartment. Couple months after that the key broke in my car door. Two different locksmiths, no police escort. Which experience is abnormal?

  47. oldwiz65 says:

    Wonder if the cops get a cut from the $613?

  48. Papa Bear says:

    The assumption that the cop was wrong here is itself wrong. Many jurisdictions have ordinances making it a violation to request a service and then not pay for it after it is rendered. Not being NY cops or attorneys, there is no way we can know the authority the cop had without reading either the municipal code or state statutes. This is definitely a civil issue in any jurisdiction, though, even if she did not get a set price before services were started.

    The contract between these two parties could be viewed to have been an adhesion contract. In that case, she may have had a claim that the contract was unconscionable. An adhesion contract is one where terms are dictated on a take it or leave it basis by the vendor. In other words, if the product or service is wanted or needed, the vendee is stuck accepting the contract. Unconscionable is one where one of the parties takes unreasonable advantage of the other. She could probably also make a claim of unjust enrichment and prevail if she could prove duress or undue influence.

    I think here, she was led to believe that the price would be based upon the actual services required, yet it would be reasonable. She was tired after a long night’s work, did not want to intrude on friends or family at an unreasonable time of day, and her building super was not available; therefore, it would be reasonable to find that she felt she had no other options available. She needed the service, the locksmith knew the situation and he used his undue influence over her at that instance to become unjustly enriched.

    There was no false imprisonment as the actions of both the police and locksmith as far as getting paid were reasonable. Even if she had been arrested, and it turned out to be a wrongful arrest, if the cop was acting in good faith, the case would be iffy, at best, and who in the heck wants to sit in an NYC jail awaiting arraignment? However, if there is no ordinance violation, threatening to make an arrest in order to get payment could be seen as illegal debt collection depending on the wording of the jurisdiction’s collection laws; hence, another cause of action.

    What she did is the correct thing, however. She disagreed with the price and protested it. Although she didn’t voluntarily pay it, she did pay it. Now she is in the position of being a plaintiff and can sue. It is always better to be the plaintiff than to be the defendant, for several reasons. Problem is, she is in NYC and getting into small claims court could be a real bear. Also, there may well be some sort of regulatory or administrative complaint she can file.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      The most likely applicable law would be theft of services. After a read of the statute it seems like it wouldn’t apply (lots of very specific services defined).

      http://law.onecle.com/new-york/penal/PEN0165.15_165.15.html

      Section 10 may have applied. The sad thing is that in restaurants if you claim the food was inedible or such and the restaurant calls the cops your SOL. “A person who fails or refuses to pay for such services is presumed to have intended to avoid payment therefor.”

      I am not a lawyer, and NY laws are much harder to read than Texas laws.

  49. ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

    what a IDIOT! she deserves to get ripped off, no common sense

    • MishunAcomplisht says:

      That would be AN idiot. It’s really best to have good grammar when criticizing others’ intelligence level…

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Sorry, NO ONE deserves to get ripped off for being naive. Now cons conning cons, that is fun!

  50. Gorbachev says:

    I would’ve opted for getting arrested.

    • Papa Bear says:

      If you think getting arrested is a viable option, especially in NYC, you are very out of touch with reality. Even just the arrest record with no conviction can squash many opportunities. Besides that, jail is not a pleasant place to be.

  51. Watcher95 says:

    People are stupid, more details at 11

  52. MishunAcomplisht says:

    Wait a minute. Why are the cops involved? Why didn’t they just tell him to sue her in small claims court? What was criminal about what she did?

  53. Extended-Warranty says:

    There’s two sides to every story, and this side is not very convincing. Something tells me this person lacks common sense.

    Many many businesses have high fees for “emergency” services. It’s not cheap being able to provide such a service on the spot.

    • SixOfOne says:

      Not telling her up front and not quoting her anything at all over the phone makes the locksmith suspect. Same about the credit card machine and telling her they could make a credit card imprint (illegal in NY).

  54. Kate20670 says:

    She should have gotten the price before the locksmith started to work. I needed an extra key made in an emergency and was quoted something along the lines of $400 to get a locksmith to come to my apartment. NYC is expensive. I couldn’t afford that and went without. Had a friend come over with a spare key the next day and made a copy at the hardware store for less than $5. Really sucked to be without the key.

    Her refusal to pay the locksmith is a crime – theft of service. That’s why the police got involved.

  55. Rocket80 says:

    “When they arrived the said, “Pay the man now or you’re under arrest.””

    If you sincerely feel you are in the moral high ground let them arrest you, big deal. People are way too scared of cops.

  56. physics2010 says:

    I’m not sure where Ben lives, but in no way would you ever pay $60-$80 for an afterhours visit from a locksmith. If you’re waking someone up in the middle of the night, or expecting someone to sit around during off-peak times waiting for your call, and not charge you the $120-$200 afterhours surcharge you are dreaming.
    Yes she got somewhat overcharged, but thats her fault for not getting the quote over the phone.
    The callout fee was fine, the $85 or so for drilling was probably a scam since 99% of locksmith should be able to open without drilling. Perhaps it was a high security lock? Right there would explain the cost for the replacement lock and special keys.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Perhaps it was a high security lock? “

      No, it was not. This is how much they charge for normal (drillable) locks. They do not stock high-security locks.

    • SixOfOne says:

      She also asked for a quote over the phone, they refused to give her one. It’s not like she didn’t try.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Given the failure the OP described (key turned but nothing happened) drilling was probably required. It would have been somewhat complex as well (must immobilize tumbler as it was broken).

  57. Crazy-Dave says:

    Tons cheaper to have just smashed in a window. If she was on the 2nd floor or above, kick in the door. Then again, no sane person would have believed the locksmith would charge $613 to drill a $#@!() lock.

    Negotiate the price first people!

  58. BETH says:

    The last time I needed a lock repaired, the locksmith told me he usually works until late at night, because that’s when most people lose their car keys or get locked out of their homes.

  59. keyman424 says:

    Just to let everyone know these scams are happening all over the country. I am a real locksmith in the Chicago IL area. I discovered and have been fighting these phony locksmiths for apx. 8 years.The first thing you have to understand is that this is not a small outfit but a nationwide organized crime syndicate run by Israeli foreigners that seem to have major ties in the telecommunications field. They have flooded phone books, internet, 411 directories with hundreds of thousands of ads nationwide. Many of the listings have phony addresses listed. They advertise 19.00 locksmith service when they really charge much more with bait and switch pricing tactics. When you try to contact the company about being ripped off they are no where to be found and the address they list turns out to be a pizza place or other unsuspecting business. If you dig hard enough you will usually find out they are in another state. The workers seem to be almost always Israeli foriegners who are working Ilegally in this country. I have seen even much worse than this. Example Ray Miller a senior citizen from streamwood IL was forced to pay 1710.00 to have his lock drilled on his home. This is a vey large international scam that makes the nigerian scams look like small potatoes. I have even traced one of these scammers to a company called AMDOCS out of Israel. which is a company used to do most of the billing for most of the phone companies around the world. You can search this on you tube and watch some fox news reports on this company and the suspected espianage even tying it to 911 trade center. The real locksmiths in this country are not shady and do not rip consummers off like this. A company that is called Dependable Lock inc. has had many actions from different attorney generals around the country for ripping off consumers nation wide. I was even sued by this company in federal court in chicago which I was dismissed from the charge by the federal judge. I was able to bring national attention to this company by helping reporters and state investigators around the country. I even got good moring america abc news to do a segment on this scam. Shortly after I was dismissed out of the lawsuit the federal postal minspectors raided Dependable Locks clearwater florida office where they have one of their phone boiler room operations. David Peer and others were charged with money laundering, wire fraud, mail fraud, structuring a business by using Illegal foreign workers etc. I even met with the former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who might I say helped out with this problem in illinois and didnt charge a dime or ask for any favors from real locksmiths. I encourage anyone who is a victim of these scams to file a complaint with their attorney generals office in their state.
    The cops who made this lady pay these scammers should be suspended.
    This scam is real and they have clogged all forms of advertisments withntheir ads and real locksmiths are out advertised by these theives.
    They are not locksmiths.
    They are organized crime from Israel.
    They are ripping off desparate locked out consumers all across the united states for un told millions.
    If you want more info visit http://www.allhourlocksmiths.com there are links to many news storys from around the country concerning these phony locksmith scammers.

    Mike

    • misslisa says:

      I googled what you’ve posted and learned more – interesting yet frightening! Thanks for the informative post.

      This whole thread makes me even more grateful for my safe, secure, somewhat rural community – I can leave the door unlocked half the time with no real concern. The one time I did lock myself out, I just crawled in through the pet door :)

    • grumpygirl says:

      mike, i think you need to find a way to contact the woman who was scammed.

      • NeverLetMeDown says:

        I think Mike needs to get his meds adjusted, although I do find it amusing that someone can (a) believe that Amdocs is part of a global Israeli conspiracy that caused 9/11, and (b) that the company decided, in between spying on every American and destroying NYC skyscrapers, to invest time and effort in running a sleazy locksmith ring.

  60. skakh says:

    This seems to be a civil case not criminal. The cops should not be involved as no crime was commited. Perhaps this lady has a case against the cops. Likely the cops received a nice little bit of cash from the locksmith.

  61. ben_marko says:

    So where was this??? She should be broadcasting the name of this company all over the internet.

  62. Dollie says:

    So how much of the $613 did the cops get?

  63. SlimDan22 says:

    Read the original blog post by the women, if i where in the situation i would be more pissed by how the police treated me then the price

    I would have also went with another company if they wouldn’t give me a price quote over the phone like she asked

    Everyone makes mistakes

  64. pot_roast says:

    tl; dr = girl got pwn3d, really has no other recourse than to blog about it/whine on the Interwebs., whips out the “I’m a young scared crying girl living alone in the big bad city” card. “I’m scared of this person who knows my apartment number and how to get in” – gee, dramatic much?

    Hopefully her landlord reimburses her for some of it, but that probably won’t happen.

  65. lxa1023 says:

    WD40

  66. theblackdog says:

    Why why why didn’t she post the name of that locksmith and the police officer?!

  67. ahow628 says:

    Wow, I would be calling up the State Attorney General right now. If that isn’t price gouging, I don’t know what is.

  68. MarkSweat says:

    Why not just call the building super?

  69. Spiro_Agnew says:

    Next time she gets locked out, she should call me.

    I have a very nice headboard I would like to show her.

  70. lihtox says:

    I think the person should be publishing the name of the locksmith, as a warning to others.

  71. Corndolf says:

    I hate to join the blame the consumer crew, because it’s clear that this woman was ripped off because of her naivete, and the detail about the cops getting so actively involved is also disturbing.

    However, if there’s one lesson she or anybody else reading this should learn from this ripoff — ALWAYS, ALWAYS get a price before you agree to purchase something, whether it be a good or a service. Understand what they claim to expect you to pay and where that price comes from, even if it’s a service like this where the end price may vary. Preferably get some kind of estimate in writing. It may not have completely solved her problem here, but at the very minimum having an oral quote to claim and understanding where that quote came from (so that it’s harder to claim extra services) would have either provided her with a fighting chance, or, if the company is merely a ripoff and not dishonest, would have allowed her to call another, cheaper locksmith.

  72. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    She says in the article that he had a broken down list of the charges. I would love it if she would have scanned that in so we could see how the charges were broken down to what. I’m wondering if the lock was a Medeco lock. These locks can easily be worth $200 or more depending on the style. Another $100 for the 20 minute job….would love to see the break down though….

    Don’t get me wrong…it’s expensive as hell, but still might be justifiable…in which case…her landlord/Sup should still reimburse her….I’m sure that maybe a bit of a fight.

  73. WickedCrispy says:

    prtmnt? Y cll th frggn lndlrd / mngr. t’s thr jb t hlp y n mttr wht tm. Wht mrn. Y dsrv t ls tht mn.

  74. RogerX says:

    Theory: The cops got $50 each for their “support.”

  75. pmormr says:

    This is a CIVIL contract dispute over breech of contract (the payment). The only cause of action the locksmith has against the op is to file for an artisan’s lien against the property or sue her in civil court. You can’t get arrested for something like this, especially if the payment amount is in dispute. On what charge were the police going to arrest?

    If the police could arrest you for refusing to pay for a service with contractual terms in dispute, I could start a contracting business and just charge anybody I felt like 10x times the estimate, and have them arrested as soon as they refused to pay.

  76. pantherx says:

    As the ‘locksmith’ called the ‘cops’ we can assume that there is a possibility of the ‘cops’ being fake.

  77. maynurd says:

    APARTMENT. Should not have cost her anything. She should have called the land lord, or building maintenance to get the lock fixed instead of calling a locksmith herself.

  78. sj_user1 says:

    The cops are probably getting kickbacks.

  79. guspaz says:

    Because she didn’t lose her keys? The lock was defective? The key turned the lock, the lock did not move the bolt. The landlord should pay for that, since she has a reasonable expectation that the lock to her apartment will work.

    • Chaosium says:

      The landlord only really has to pay for the cost of the lock, he isn’t obliged to pay for an emergency locksmith.

  80. mcgyver210 says:

    The OP needs to file a formal complaint for abuse of power under the color of authority. The Cop was acting like a gangster & also didn’t want a witness to the wrongful abuse. This type of abuse is why so many civilians are scared of the supposed good guys. Also never talk to a LEO you don’t know from adam without a witness or recording device they are not all good.

    As for the crooked Lock Smith I would make sure I posted his bill everywhere I possibly could to expose his extortionist practices. Also you could go after him for if he advertised credit cards but refused to accept one. I would become everyones nightmare involved in this.

    Now nothing excuses the OPs not asking for an upfront quote in this situation that would have avoided the whole mess.

  81. newfenoix says:

    Speaking AS A COP, the advice that I would give is to contact the internal affairs division of the NYPD and report these assholes. Then contact the AG office and the state and local licensing board and report the locksmith. Then get an attorney.

  82. NewsMuncher says:
  83. NewsMuncher says:

    NYTimes has a story about locksmith scams & lead gen companies that populate local searches & phonebook ads:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/10/your-money/lead-gen-sites-pose-challenge-to-google-the-haggler.html?_r=2