My Run-In With A Creepy, Scammy Locksmith

You don’t need a locksmith right now. That’s the best time to look for one, so take some time today to ask your friends and colleagues, search Yelp, and do whatever you can to learn which locksmiths in your area are reliable and reasonable. Then put their numbers in your phone contacts. This will help you in your time of need, so you’re not stuck with a scammy, creepy bait-and-switch artist in an emergency situation. That’s what happened to Rob’s daughter recently in Washington, D.C.

He writes:

My daughter locked her keys in her car in Washington, D.C. she called [redacted] to have her car unlocked. They told her over the phone it would cost $45.00 plus $15.00 service fee. The technician, [redacted] unlocked her car in less than a minute, sexually harrased her and asked her out for dinner while doing so, and told her the cost was $186.00. When asked why so much, he replied, “Sweetie, we tell you the low number over the phone, because all the other locksmiths lie, so we have to lie, or you will call someone else.”

The company that she called doesn’t have the same name as the company that billed her credit card, and all of Rob’s calls go to call centers.

[Redacted], a dispatcher, who gave my number to [Redacted], who called me back (number blocked as private), and explained that all the locksmiths do this, it’s just like carpet cleaning and duct cleaning business who advertise a low price and charge more for chemicals, etc. He threatened to sue me and drag me into D.C. court if I disputed the charges.

“Everyone else does it, too and we’ll sue you” is not a justification to scam people. We weren’t able to find any cases in D.C. civil court under this company’s name, so the lawsuit may be an empty threat meant to keep customers from from filing full or partial chargebacks. (It could be that the owner sued under his or her own name, or the group of locksmith companies has a different legal name.)

This is why a AAA membership can be a good choice: my own parents bought me one for Christmas a few months after I locked my keys in the car a few hundred miles from home at a highway rest stop. Ah, memories.

RELATED:
Protected By Cops, Emergency Locksmith Rips Woman Off For $613
You Should Not Be Paying $175 To Get Your Car Door Unlocked

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Blackadar says:

    So dispute the charges and let him try to sue you. I’d probably call them with a fake service call, record the conversation (it’s legal in my state) and then tell them to forget it to get their quote on tape. Assuming they quote the same or similar price, then you have evidence of what they quote to present in court and have cause for a fraud case.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      Yeah, my first thought was “So you’re going to knuckle under and let them scare you into submission? Bullshit. Chargeback for the difference and tell them to pound sand”.

      Sorry, but you don’t get to quote one price and then charge another once the service has been performed and you have them in a bind. I’m not sure if that falls under coercion, extortion, or something else, but it is absolutely illegal.

      • Jevia says:

        Its called a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices/Consumer Protection Act, which is in some form in all states. You cannot advertise one price, then charge a higher price for the same product/service.

    • Chuft-Captain says:

      Also, if he’s calling from another state to get the fake quote (he can get a Google Voice number if necessary to keep them from knowing), he’s subject to federal recording laws as the discussion is crossing state lines. And Federal laws require only one-party consent, so no problem there.

      • JF says:

        Adding to that, around DC phone conversations across state lines are easy to legitimately do since the city is bordered by two states.

        • Chuft-Captain says:

          Actually, I expect anything *in* DC would automatically fall under the federal rules too, as they have no state government…

          • TBGBoodler says:

            They have a government. They have laws, just like anyother city.

            • Chuft-Captain says:

              But they are not a state and do not, as such, set the equivilent of state laws, unless they have a distinct District government to which the city government is beholden. Cities don’t make laws telling you who needs to consent to a recording, for instance.

              • deesee says:

                As a resident of DC, I can tell you that you’re wrong. We do have a local government and make our local laws, but have federal oversight for some things. Also, the DC Dept of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs could investigate and provide relief here.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        While that’s the way it SHOULD work, it hasn’t held up in the courts. You have to go by the most restrictive call recording law.

        • SJActress says:

          Not necessarily. If this guy wants to sue the locksmith and use federal recording laws, he just has to make sure he sues under a federal trade practices statute and meets all the requirements of federal law.

          Going to state court would be a whole ‘nother ballgame, of course, with pre-emption kicking in, etc.

      • Difdi says:

        Not true. Dangerously not true. Many states have what are called Long Arm statutes. Put simply, if you remotely break the law of a state (over the phone, by mail, etc) the state will extradite you from your state and charge you with the crime, despite the fact it may not have been a crime where you were when you did it.

        I don’t have cites, but I have read in the past about incidents where people got into trouble calling a two-party state from a one-party state and recording the conversation without notice.

        • phsiii says:

          With any luck, their ACD gives you permission to record the call: “This call may be recorded…”

          (No, I don’t know if anyone has tried that in court, but it’s worth a shot!)

          • bbb111 says:

            “This call may be recorded…”

            I’ve searched for a law citation or ruling that indicates that this statement when you call is automatically bilateral, but I’ve never found one. Just lots of people who think it should. Some of the articles written by consumer activists and lawyers state that this is untested in court, so it could be dangerous and expensive to be the test case. They recommend that the caller state that they are recording the call when a live person picks up.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      They cant sue you when they say $60 and then try to charge you $186. They would lose.
      Partial charge back is 100% legit here for $126.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    We have (my parents still live there) in my old hometown a locksmith on Main Street that’s been there since I was a kid, and that’s been [redacted] years now. He charges fair rates, has a truck for emergency calls, and we’ve used him for all our locksmithing needs (aside from what I can do myself). I’m not sure what will happen if he goes “away” since he’s the only one in the area. I guess we will have to travel much farther or go to a place like Home Depot :-(

  3. Almighty Peanut says:

    unfortunately, the DC metro area has a very high ratio of the scammies.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      Are there enough jail cells?

    • Xboxer says:

      It’s interesting that these scams still exist and nobody is putting a stop to them. Same thing with the moving company scams. They hold your possessions as ransom after they jack up the price by thousands of dollars. They constantly change their names so they can’t really be tracked and online complaints do no good. Our government is concerned enough to ban soda from us but let these companies prey on the innocent. It’s rare that these companies are ever truly held accountable for their actions.

      • RandomHookup says:

        “Our government”? Seems like a pretty broad brush. The soda stuff is mostly going on in NYC. This is a local enforcement issue in DC, complicated by the close proximately of a couple of other states. Towing, moving, locksmith scams are pretty common nationwide and many victims never bother to complain. I think local police hate enforcing these issues because it seems to be more of a civil issue to them.

      • Kuri says:

        Eh, this would require actual work. Banning soda is a way to look like you’re doing something without actually doing anything.

        • longfeltwant says:

          Yeah. Like banning lead in paint. Totally.

          I’m against the soda thing, and for the lead thing, but they boil down to the same kind of policy, and both are legitimate government actions. We live in a republic, so if you don’t like it you can choose new leaders.

    • Byte says:

      Especially over on Pennsylvania Avenue

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    This is also a good time to give copies of your keys to trusted individuals nearby. If you don’t have good friends and family nearby to keep your keys. I’m not sure what to do if you don’t have trusted friends and family nearby, though.

    Also, if you have a spare key in your home but you’ve locked your set in the car, apartment complexes should have keys to every unit because they have to show the unit to potential tenants and maintenance would have keys because they need to access apartments for repairs. You could try talking to the leasing office (hoping it is open) and get the spare key to your apartment to get your spare car key.

    • PercussionQueen7 says:

      Yup. My mom lives 20 miles away, and she has a key to both. My best friend lives in my town and has a house key (I’ve managed to lock myself out of my house a couple of times). I have a spare car key in my purse.

      I also have AAA. For $50 a year, it might not be a bad idea if you’re prone to doing this.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      In my experience, most apartments that have a lock-out service will charge you for it. My last place charged $50.

  5. cactus jack says:

    Dispute the charges. Immediately afterwards, teach (or learn and teach yourself!) how to get into a locked car without damaging the vehicle. It’s surprisingly easy with a small wedge and a poking tool.

    • Velifer says:

      I always carry a small wedge and a length of stiff wire in my pocket, except that time I locked them in the car with my keys.

      You know what opens a locked car? THE KEYS. You should carry those with you. In your pocket. Next to your poking tool.

      • cactus jack says:

        Walking into a business and asking if they have a wedged door stop and a metal hanger works too. Anything really as long as it can serve as a wedge and a poking tool. A piece of cloth can keep the makeshift wedge from causing damage too.

        A little bit of Macgyver goes a long way.

        • GOInsanity says:

          Yeah, I can just see that…

          “Hi, I locked myself out of my car, can I borrow a wedge and metal coat hanger to break into it? I swear it’s my car and not someone else’s car I’m breaking into. Why are you calling the cops?”

          • cactus jack says:

            I’ve helped countless people into their car and it hasn’t been an issue. If the keys are locked in it, you’d expect the window to be broken and the car to be gone. Why involve someone else who can identify them if they are stealing?

          • longfeltwant says:

            Yeah, I can see that too. I can see it in my memory, because I had that exact experience, almost word for word, except for that cop thing. I locked my keys in my van, looked around, and saw a dry cleaners in the strip mall I was at. They gave me a hanger and wished me good luck. I was in my van in three minutes — thank you, dry cleaners!

          • AtlantaCPA says:

            My friend was playing a softball game at the field near my house and took a ball to the eye socket. He went to the hospital and called me asking me to move his car as the free parking is only in the evening at the ball field. He had a spare hidden inside the bumper.

            I said sure, even though I was sick and sounded terrible. So I walked over in my hoodie I’d been wearing all day and started to rummage around his bumper looking for the spare.

            A police car drove by. I realized I didn’t have my cell with me, just my work blackberry. Quickly I rehearsed what I would say if the police car stopped:
            “Hi officer, this is my friend’s car, and he asked me to break into… I mean get the spare key that is somewhere in the bumper that I can’t find right now. Oh and I have a sinus infection which is why I sound like a drug addict and am wearing my PJs and a hoodie. Call my friend you say? Well I don’t have my phone all I have is this blackberry which doesn’t have his number in it. Oh, it’s my blackberry too, well my work’s blackberry which is why my name isn’t on the ‘if found return to this address’ notice on the home page. Why are you taking out your handcuffs, will they help me find the key hidden in the bumper?”

            Luckily the police car didn’t stop and I found the key shortly after.

        • deesee says:

          I did this recently. I was at a hardware store, and bought a metal rod with a door wedge to open my car outside.

        • goodfellow_puck says:

          When I worked retail, we got customers in all the time asking for tools to break back in. We always helped. If you’re gonna break in for nefarious reasons, ya probably bring your own tools. Plus, body language is pretty telling. A brilliant thief could certainly act it, but they’d be smart enough to bring their own tools and/or would be stealing some art or diamonds or something.

      • Captain Spock says:

        I have a huge ball of keys, I do not want to injure my poking tool.

        • George4478 says:

          I, on the other hand, have a huge poking tool and a small ball of keys.

        • cactus jack says:

          I hear you can wear out your ignition lock with all that weight.

          • longfeltwant says:

            It is possible if the keychain is heavy enough and if you do it for enough years. Most people shouldn’t worry about it (they should worry instead about being an untenable key hoarder) and if the ignition lock wears out, it’s a straightforward fix. Consider it the cost of the utility of carrying all those keys for all those years.

          • NickRayko says:

            Whoosh!

      • Laura Northrup says:

        This is the best “I make my own at home” this week.

    • alexwade says:

      The best thing to do is to get in the habit of only locking doors from the outside. If you can lock a door from the outside, you can unlock from the outside too. Usually, but not always, I use my key and not my keyfob to lock the door. On the cars with push button starts, just keep the key in your pocket. Another advantage of locking a door from the outside is you can be sure the door is locked. When I lock my car, I hear the automatic locks. When I lock my house door, I always turn the handle to be sure.

      • AzCatz07 says:

        My car has push button start,but it won’t lock if the keys are in it.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        This. Some cars are designed to make it very hard to lock your keys in… it’s one of the things VW gets right, for example. You’d have to have a back door open, keys inside somewhere, and reach up and lock the front door from behind.

        Now, dropping your keys in the trunk or hatch space and then closing the truck or hatchback can do it… Good habits are important, but having AAA or someone else somewhat reputable to call when the perfect storm hits is good planning.

        • NickRayko says:

          Aren’t most cars like this now? I’ve got an ’87 Volvo, and the driver’s door lock button can’t be pushed down unless the door is closed. SAABs work the same way, IIRC. On any of the Japanese cars I’ve owned or driven, even if you could lock the door prior to closing, the act of closing the driver’s door would make the lock button pop up.

          On the other hand, my Jeep had a lock button that wouldn’t stay up, so I tended to leave the vent wing window unlatched most of the time, due to having locked myself out once with the engine running.

  6. spartan says:

    I got to disagree with the advice to check with Yelp. There is a massive amount of locksmith listings, but most of them are simply lead services with (purportedly) a network of local locksmiths.

    My advice is to use the Auto Club.

    • Laura Northrup says:

      You really only need one lockout or flat tire for a AAA membership to pay for itself. I should add that to the post, thanks!

      • cactus jack says:

        There used to be some great deals that went with the AAA membership. 20% off Circuit City paid for itself and then some when it was time to buy a TV.

        • Laura Northrup says:

          A lot of places have AAA discounts and don’t advertise it. Hotel rooms and Amtrak discounts are obvious, but a lot of clothing stores have one, too. 15% off for not doing anything isn’t so bad.

          • PercussionQueen7 says:

            Hey Laura, do you know some of the clothing stores? A link to a list of retailers? …. yeah, I could google, but I don’t wanna! *stamps foot*

            • cactus jack says:

              Just start asking at random places you go to.

              It’s sort of an accepted discount at many places that’s just been slotted in. While some may have a relationship with AAA, most I encounter just offer it because it has come up enough that they figure “why not just offer it?”

              Works the same with AARP.

            • Laura Northrup says:

              Varies by region.

              http://www.AAA.com/searchfordiscounts

              Hey, I just learned that the Banana Republic outlet does a discount! Sweet.

              • PercussionQueen7 says:

                Thank you!

              • perruptor says:

                My experience with trying to get a AAA discount at a hotel or motel is that there isn’t any such thing. I invariably hear “Oh, it’s already included,” which is a neat trick. Same with AARP discounts.

                Speaking of AARP, they also have a road-service plan, which is much cheaper than AAA, and includes lockout reimbursement.

      • Mambru says:

        AAA is a good choice but most car insurances come with roadside assistance, people should check their policy for this. I have it with Allstate it kinda makes having AAA redundant

        • bityard says:

          Last town I lived in, I got some work done on my car at a shop that automatically gave you one free year of roadside assistance from AC Delco. I think it depends on the type of assistance required, but they reimbursed me for $75 out of the total cost of a tow.

      • frank64 says:

        I have only needed AAA once in about 15 years. that is over $750 I could spend on an emergency to break even. The one time I needed them someone else had it and called them for me.

        I don’t think you save that much in discounts, but I could be wrong. To me they look like fake discounts used for marketing that I could get myself from shopping around.

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          If you travel a lot, I can see it paying for itself with discounts. Travelling as a kid, I remember seeing the little AAA and AARP discount advertisements at nearly every hotel we stayed at.

          • NickRayko says:

            Those hotel discounts can be tiny, especially at cheap chain motels near the highway. On the other hand, the AAA discount on moving trucks can be huge – saved me close to $400 when renting a van & car trailer to move cross-country.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I found a good locksmith on Angie’s List, but obviously this only works if you don’t mind paying a small fee.

    • AzCatz07 says:

      You can often get roadside assistance as part of your car insurance. I get it for free from Nissan but also have it in my travelers policy.

  7. spartan says:

    Also, if she is sexually harassed; she can gain some control by “accepting” the dinner date. But for later in the week,

    It should go without saying that once the car is open and the victim has safely driven away, the date is cancelled.

    • VintageLydia says:

      I wouldn’t count on that :/ He was likely harassing her to further intimidate her, not to actually get a date. Even the most socially awkward men know better than try to get a date in that situation. This guy was a predator. I’d press charges.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        The added bonus is, now he knows what kind of car he drives and probably where she lives. Someone who would use intimidation tactics to get money would probably get very annoyed if that person’s mother wrote in to a website to complain.

      • msbaskx2 says:

        Press charges for what???

        • VintageLydia says:

          Sexual harassment. He was purposely intimidating her using sex to extort money out of her. He was not likely looking for an actual date. He had all the power in the situation to coerce her to do something she didn’t want to do.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Screw the intimidation reasons – he was sexually harrassing a customer.

            • benminer says:

              Asking out a customer may get you fired but it’s not illegal for that reason alone.

              • RedOryx says:

                “sexually harrased her and asked her out for dinner while doing so,”

                That seems to suggest he did more than just ask her out.

                • benminer says:

                  Most “sexual harassment” laws on the books relate to employment situations and are a civil matter. (i.e. I’ll fire you if you don’t sleep with me). Outside a workplace setting it just falls under “harassment” which would, in most cases, require at the minimum a police report. Obviously if sexual assault is involved that’s something totally different but trying to get a date (even repeatedly and annoyingly) is generally not a crime.

                  Unless the lady called the police or filed a police report she’s not going to get very far trying to sue them.

                • msbaskx2 says:

                  Yes, but what did he do? No one has any details but everyone seems to think the guy should be arrested.

                  Weird.

            • VintageLydia says:

              I figured I needed to explain just why the sexual harassment was so egrarious in this situation. This person seemed shocked it was even a crime. Also, let’s be honest, most people don’t care about sexual harassment unless they can pinpoint other motives. You know, because it’s just a compliment ;)

              • Trjgul says:

                No.

                A compliment is “That’s a nice shirt” or “I like how you did your hair”. Sexual harassment is “Hey babe, nice tits” or “So how much per hour?” Especially in a situation like this where the locksmith had power (could have threatened to not unlock her car unless she performed a certain “favor”, for example), it’s sexual harassment.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Running a scam? Not that sexual harassment isn’t a big deal, but the bigger problem here is that the guy is running a scam and the fact that he’s using intimidation tactics augments her case, but doesn’t define it. Her aim is to get her money back and prevent him from running his scam again.

        • Tim says:

          Sexual harassment.

          • msbaskx2 says:

            How can anyone (everyone?) decide he should be “charged” with sexual harassment when they don’t even know what he did since the OP never said what he did????

            And is “sexual harassment” a criminal charge you can make against someone? I don’t think so.

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      What?? Wtf, NO. NEVER DO THIS.

      “Oh hey creepy guy who’s being inappropriate and using his ‘power’ of lock breaking skills over me in a time of need…I’ll TOTALLY let you use that power to get the response you want. Then I’ll not go through with it. Even though you have my number, my name and probably my address.”

      YEAH. GREAT IDEA. D:

  8. Harry Greek says:

    Dispute the charges.

  9. ovalseven says:

    I’d pay the quoted price then explain, “all the consumers do this”.

  10. Blueskylaw says:

    Anyone ever thought of recording a conversation with these guys? Let’s say you do lock yourself out but happen to have your business briefcase that contains your digital (or even analog) recorder – I would record them and their excuses for why they charged three to five times the agreed upon quote.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      As many “I’m locked out of my car” situation happen in public areas, it’d be easy, too. No reasonable expectation of privacy… record away! Even dumb phones have audio recording tools.

  11. offtopic says:

    As most of the others have said file a chargeback with the credit card company. This will put the issue on record with the credit card processor (likely you will not be the first). It will also cost the locksmith time and money – I believe that there is a charge from the processor and they will also need to respond.

    Also be sure to leave reviews with sites like Yelp and Google.

  12. leylan says:

    I had to get a locksmith in DC last year when I was living in a room in a house; I wanted to get a deadbolt installed in the bedroom as one of the roommates turned out to be kind of sketchy. The guy I called was very reasonable, professional, and nothing like the guy described in the OPs post (and I agree, you should sue).

    If anyone in the DC area needs a locksmith, go with this guy, DC Lock Doctor. He’s a one man business, does the entire thing out of a set-up in the back of his van. Totally nice guy and won’t over charge you. He actually ended up going down from his original price, because it was less work than he thought it would be. Here’s his Yelp page: http://www.yelp.com/biz/lock-doctor-washington

    • Mxx says:

      We have to take YOUR word for it. Who are you?
      How do we know that you are not one of those scammers trying to mislead and exploit people?
      :/

      • leylan says:

        Okay dude. Yes, it’s the internet, and sure, whatever, there’s no reason for anyone to trust anyone’s recommendation. That’s part of the reason I linked to his yelp page, where he has a heck of a lot more good reviews than just mine.

        Was just trying to offer a suggestion based on my experience. If you don’t want to trust it, don’t.

  13. Tim says:

    Go ahead and take her to court. You just admitted to a bait-and-switch. Let’s see how that goes down in court.

  14. Gary says:

    AAA is great, wonderful, phantasmigorical… as long as you have a car.
    Now, I can’t see getting locked out of my bike, but… how about telling who us who is a great BIKE roadside service?

  15. Xboxer says:

    It’s unfortunate but these companies prey on the desperate. My best advice is don’t lock your keys in your car. But sometimes sh*t happens. I never locked my keys in my car in my life but somehow did it twice in a 2 week period. I used to always leave my keys in the car while I pumped my gas but that’s how I locked them in the first time. I was lucky my wife had the other set of keys. It was cheaper for her to leave work and take the train to me than call a locksmith. If you have an extra set of keys leave them with someone you trust that lives in your area. That’s really the best solution. I don’t know how much it costs to replace a car window but I would think it has to be cheaper than $186. I’ll tell you what, if someone tried to pull that scam on me I would tell them to kiss my ass, then I would dispute the entire charge with my credit card company. Let them take me to court.

    • Caddyshack says:

      It’s not just the desparate but in recent years we have gotten comfortable to paying someone else to do something that we could do ourselves. We’ve gotten lazy but it has changed somewhat now that the economy is bad so I see more people in my neighborhood doing yard work for themselves which they should be doing. We make excuses that we have no time to cut the lawn, etc so we pay someone else but all it takes is managing our priorities better. Using a contractor used to be a good idea when contractor’s were honest but now days, they’re slimeballs. Most do substandard work, overpriced the quote, and never rework their mistakes or repair damage and get vile when asked to do so. I am thru with these folks so I do the work myself.

      Back in 2009 I had a company called Tru-Green do my lawn for a price that was reasonable for about $400.00 for the spring and summer. I have a huge lawn. The next spring they apparently arrived and left me a bill for nearly double that amount because apparently I signed up for a year-to-year contract. Funny, I never did that but of course they said I did. And the new 2010 quote was nearly $800.00.

      First I was upset that they the audacity to assume that I wanted their business for the following year which I never signed up for and then they nearly doubled my bill. I dropped them like an old habit. Scotts Lawn tried doing the same. Now days I take care of my lawn myself and it looks just as good.

      As I said earlier, contractor’s only want your money and once they have it, you are “out of sigh and out of mind”.

      • Xboxer says:

        Not as expensive but a lesson I learned is to never get the Boston Globe delivered. Once they have your name and number they never leave you alone no matter how many times you ask them to stop calling. They are also nearly impossible to cancel. I signed up for a “free” trial of the Sunday paper because they were giving away a grocery store gift card. The catch was they take your debit card info and if you don’t cancel within a month you get billed. Just try cancelling. It’s impossible. That’s how they get you. Seems like a lot of companies are using these tactics as they get desperate. It’s a shame because they are scaring off more customers than had they done business the right way they would be gaining a loyal customer base.

        • ptr2void says:

          Same thing happens when giving to charities. We’ve given to a bunch, and now it’s gotten to the point of non-stop phone calls and mail from all sorts of charitable foundations for more money. It’s reached such a level that my wife is now refusing to give anyone anything, hoping that they will give up and stop soliciting us.

          • Tenacity says:

            Please consider your most local charities, those who don’t have funds or resources to sit around making phone calls all day. Look into soup kitchens or food banks, or check with your local government agencies to see if there are charitable efforts that can be made in support of their efforts, such as help with domestic violence victims or children in need of assistance. Don’t write off all charities or let the legitimate ones suffer because of the sleazy fake ones.

        • Caddyshack says:

          Yeah I understand. Business ethics today seem to go this way; try some new scam that is legal, milk it until it is illegal, create a new scam. This seems to be the way businesses run their business these days. Tired of it. Isn’t it any wonder why people do not trust American businesses today? It never used to be this way even only 20 years ago.

          I remember when the “auto” continuation of billing began right about the mid-90s. I hated that and it infuriated me. For a company to assume that when I sign up I am agreeing and obligating myself to a continous contract is incredibly presumptous.

          If they cannot simply call me up and ask me if I want to continue doing business with them, then that tells me they’re lazy so in turn they won’t get any more business from me.

      • TBGBoodler says:

        “I see more people in my neighborhood doing yard work for themselves which they should be doing.”

        Please explain.

        • Caddyshack says:

          Really? You want me to explain it to you? lolololol.

          • NickRayko says:

            Yes, please explain. I fucking HATE doing yardwork. Why shouldn’t I pay someone else to do it?It eats up a chunk of time I could be doing something, anything, else that I enjoy. And that includes doing nothing productive.

  16. Caddyshack says:

    Yeah these same types are abundant in Metro Detroit also especially in the Roseville, Clinton Township areas. I swear I have never lived in an area with so many alcoholic-looking, GED educated white-trash losers in my life. I am not even certain if many of them can add 1+1 let alone understand the concept of keeping an appointment. I even had one contractor tell me on the phone that if I wanted a quote, I would have to first agree to have them do the work. WTF? Really? Apparently this dude has no idea what getting a quote entails or means; multiple quotes are necessary to determine the best quality, service, and price that a customer will be willing to pay. Contractor’s are getting very bad and as far as I am concerned I have learned to do the work myself and have saved thousands of dollars.

    About six years ago I allowed a contracting business to come into my home and clean the duct work. Same story; a low price of $150.00 on the phone but when I got their bill it was nearly three times that amount.

    Now I paint, do lawn work. electrical, plumbing, cleaning etc all myself. I don’t need anyone to do something that I can do for myself.

    • Blueskylaw says:

      Perhaps you should start a handyman business on the side.

      • Caddyshack says:

        If I had the time it would be plausible. I do high quality work and I always re-do my mistakes and make sure my work is excellent. With my day job however I just cannot find the time. I am really good at painting and I actually enjoy doing that type of work.

  17. Mxx says:

    History repeats itself :(

    http://consumerist.com/2008/10/i-fell-for-the-locksmith-scam.html

    There’s also http://thelocksmithpolice.com/
    Reputable locksmiths are generally members of “The Associated Locksmiths of America” at http://www.findalocksmith.com

  18. eturowski says:

    Name the company – sounds like it deserves a public shaming (in the interest of consumer protection, of course). :)

  19. Xboxer says:

    This is sort of unrelated but a simple solution to the problem if you get scammed and haven’t paid upfront. Do what I did to a taxi cab driver that tried to scam me. I used to take cabs from Seattle to Renton all of the time so I knew how to get home and how much it cost. One night after drinking downtown I hailed a cab. The guy must have thought I was some tourist, he starts driving me way out of the way. We ended up on 1st Ave going toward Seatac. Anyone from Seattle knows this isn’t how you drive to Renton. I told the guy a few times he was going the wrong way but he wouldn’t listen so I just shut up. We ended up in Burien and then he hopped on 405 and drove me to Renton. By the time we got to my destination the meter said about $40 when a normal cab ride was about $20. I told him that I knew my way around Seattle and how much a cab ride cost and that he was trying to pull one over on me. I reasoned with him and told him that I’ll give him $20. He just kept arguing so I got out of the cab and said “Fine, you get nothing!” as I slammed the door. He yelled out, “OK, OK, I take twenty!” I told him he was too late and walked off. He was pissed but I knew he wasn’t gonna call the cops and if he did I was gonna report him. He peeled out while screaming out of his window. It was funny as hell. Honestly I thought he might chase me down but he didn’t. Moral of the story, to beat a scammer sometimes you have to beat them at their own game. Chances are they won’t report you because they are in the wrong in the first place. But I’m too nice. I was gonna give him the $20 I knew was fair. He was stupid for not taking it. That’s what I would have done to the lockmith scammer.

  20. chucklesjh says:

    $186!? It is cheaper to break one of the windows and pick up a replacement at the junk yard. I had to replace one of the windows on my car and it was only $40.

  21. bkdlays says:

    Perhaps I’m biased after being in the towing industry for over 10 years, but I would never think to call a locksmith to open a car. AAA, Towing companies, roadside assistance, etc are the primary people opening cars. You call a locksmith to maybe break into a house or safe or install a new lock on your door. Perhaps thats just in my area?

    • Laura Northrup says:

      When you call AAA and are locked out of your car, they send a locksmith. In my area, anyway.

      I had Mass Pike roadside assistance unlock my car a few years ago and the guy had difficulty getting the car door open. It took him a really long time. And it’s not like it was some kind of exotic vehicle: I had a 6-year-old Honda Accord.

      • bkdlays says:

        That’s funny.. I travel the Mass Pike almost daily

        • Caddyshack says:

          I needed a new set of keys for my truck back in 2005 when I left my keys in Salt Lake City and my home is in the east. The two-truck dude made me a new set and while we were talking we were discussing that one guy that fell over the Niagara Falls and he survived. Anyone remember that? Well this dude went to school with the guy that went over the falls. Funny story. The two-truck dude said this guy didn’t have all his marble back in high school so it didn’t surprise him that he tried this stunt.

  22. pandelirium says:

    Several cars nowadays have sensors that won’t let you lock the keys in the car. Our Altima, for one, will beep and unlock the doors immediately if it detects the key inside. It has saved us more than once from our own stupidity…

    • BorkBorkBork says:

      My car doesn’t have those tech gadgets so I started clipping a mini carabiner on my key ring. Key comes out of the ignition and gets immediately clipped to my right belt loop.

      So before I ever close and lock the door, I just tap my side and hope I hear a jingle. :) Low tech solution that’s worked for me.

  23. Not Given says:

    I locked my keys in the house a couple of months ago. I usually put them in my pocket on my way out. Luckily, since I was going out, I had my purse and my emergency keys were in it.

    I may ask my son to teach me how to pick a lock, he learned it at college. He said one time he came home and his neighbor was standing in the hall all upset and she told him she locked herself out of her apartment, her roommate was out of town and she couldn’t find the super. He was able to pick her lock and let her in. She thanked him and went in. He said he thought she should be more skeeved out than she was that her neighbor could pick her lock.
    I guess that comes from living a 10 minute walk from MIT.

    • NickRayko says:

      Lock-picking ain’t rocket surgery, and I doubt it had anything to do with proximity to MIT. Search youtube for lock-picking videos.

      One caveat – it is definitely easier to pick an older, worn lock than a brand new one with no slop in the tumblers.

  24. longfeltwant says:

    I’ve used my AAA membership a half-dozen times in about eight years. For those half-dozen times, it is worth many times the membership dues. I once got a tow that would have cost a decade’s worth of dues, but I have AAA Plus, so it’s free towing for long distance instead of regular free towing for only short distance. I’ve used it with friends’ cars too (AAA is for any car so long as you are in it).

    Also, free maps are a minor benefit.

    Finally, I have AAA insurance, which surprisingly is less expensive than the alternatives (I switched from Geico — ha!).

  25. DrLumen says:

    Another way to prevent this would be to confirm the price before before the guy unlocks the car. If he says anything other than what is quoted then tell him to get lost. I seriously think he would take the $60 rather than have wasted a trip for nothing. If he gets upset, call the cops. Once the cops get there and sleazy locksmith is left holding his hat ask them if they can unlock the car.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Also, record it, get it on paper with the guy’s signature, SOMETHING so that if it lands in court for some stupid reason, you have something to show.

  26. Outrun1986 says:

    Yelp would be useless for me, thankfully I have AAA, however I just checked yelp in my area and not one review for a locksmith.

  27. jedsa says:

    Sounds like a pretty cut and dry violation of DC’s consumer protection laws. Violating said law carries statutory damages of $1500. Sue in small claims court.

  28. NotEd says:

    This is not a new scam. My wife had it happen to her when we first moved to Illinois when she accidently locked our new house’s keys inside and the door from the garage locked behind her. I was still half way across the country waiting to catch a plane the next morning to go to a job interview.
    Called a locksmith and they quoted one estimate on the phone, then charged multiple tuimes that in person. “Because it was a high security lock.” The name on the credit card bill did not match the name on the receipt either.
    Kept telling her to dispute it but she was all stressed out after being locked out, with only access to the car in the garage for hours in the late summer heat, with both house and cars keys just sitting inside, locked in the kitcheen. And out new neighbors just kept poking theirs heads out to watch, never offering to help at all.