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.

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

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.