The moment you realize you’re locked out of your car or your home is never a good one. But now that everyone is armed with a smartphone, it’s an easy thing to search for a local locksmith on Google and have someone show up to the rescue. But not every listing out there is tied to a legitimate business, as scammy fake locksmith companies are hiding in plain sight, waiting to slam customers with pricy bills for their services. [More]
Imagine this scene: you’ve locked yourself out of your apartment. You could climb in the window, call up a locksmith for emergency service, or finally put to use all of those hours you spent teaching the cat how to operate a deadbolt. Or you could walk to a nearby kiosk, provide a thumbprint, and receive an exact copy of your key. [More]
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.
While there are plenty of honest locksmiths ready to help you out when you lock your keys in your car, there are enough bait-and-switch scammers out there that consumers need to be careful before selecting one. Otherwise, you could end up with someone trying to charge you hundreds of dollars for something that shouldn’t cost more than $100.
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.”
In this iteration of the locksmith ripoff, the shyster told the customer that he has to use a $400 “air jet” device to unlock her car, jacking up the cost to $176. The “special” balloon instrument is actually only $25 and is no rarity, most locksmiths have them. These guys take out big ads in the Yellow Pages and then prey on people’s urgency and ignorance when they show up. KCTV5 reports, “Industry experts recommend that consumers make contact with an actual local locksmith before you need one. Then, you’ll know who to call in an emergency.”
There are lots of honest locksmiths out there — but there are dishonest ones too — and they’re notorious for bullying helpless consumers out of a lot of money. Here’s the scenario: You’re locked out of your car, so you call a locksmith. You’re quoted a price that seems reasonable, but when the “locksmith” shows up, he bullies you into paying more money — a lot more.
Greedy national locksmith companies masquerade as local businesses to prey on consumers who think they are in no position to haggle. Dependable Locksmith, Basad Inc, and Liberty Locksmith are just a few of the national chains that rip-off distressed consumers, charging up to $500 for simple jobs. From the LA Times:
Takeaway: AAA membership has perks. Or, consider taking a few to find a locksmith with a good local word of mouth and putting their number on your cellphone. The fire department can unlock cars, but only if it’s on fire or there’s a baby trapped inside. And of course, try not to lock your keys in your car.