Do Your Due Diligence
Have you ever been locked out of your car or home? Either you can’t find your car keys or you locked yourself out of your home. First thoughts are typically to turn to family and friends for help or a set of spare keys, but this may not work out. Next steps are to contact a locksmith in your area. However, before sealing the deal with the locksmith business, you need to consider the reliability and honesty of the company. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, has uncovered that some locksmith companies may advertise in your local telephone book, but may not be local at all. Worst, these ‘technicians’ may not have qualified professional training at all and can cause further damage to your property.
Check Locksmith Locality
This has been noted and reported by the FTC in the past: A company not located in your area has a name for its business that is similar to the name of other local locksmiths in the area. This company advertises in the yellow pages and online directories using a local address and phone number. However, in actuality, there is no store front and the local number is transferred to a place far from your local town. Then, you may not be given a quote for the locksmith service or given a false quote. When the locksmith arrives, he may want more money and you feel pressured and stuck. If the locksmith only accepts cash, that is also a sign that the business is not an authentic local locksmith.
Sometimes you can detect these falsely “local locksmiths” as they may have multiple listings – sometimes over 30 listings in a single phone number. All these listings are under different names, but the phone numbers are all directed to a single central call center. There, operators, who may not be trained individuals, are sent to your location.
How to Best Choose a Locksmith Company
There are reliable and honest local locksmith companies out there. The best piece of advice is to do your research and due diligence before you find yourself locked out or in an emergency locksmith situation. Perhaps you are thinking about increasing your home security by installing deadbolt locks, changing locks and door keys, or even installing a home alarm system. This is an excellent time to sit down in front of the computer and research different companies. Be sure to read reviews, check that they have a local address and phone number, and compare quotes over the phone. Additionally, reach out to co-workers, family members, and friends for any personal recommendations they may have.
Once you’ve found a reputable locksmith, keep the company’s contact information in a safe place such as your wallet, phone, or address book. This can save you time, anxiety, and money in the future.
Tips for Emergency Locksmith Situations
Of course, if you are dealing with an emergency locksmith situation such as being locked out of your car, home, or office, you don’t have the same luxury of sitting in front of the computer and thoroughly checking the legitimacy of the locksmith companies. Here are some tips for such scenarios:
- If you’re locked out of your car and have a roadside assistance service call them before a locksmith. Many times, these lock out services are included in the membership or even though the car dealership or insurance company depending on when you bought the car.
- If a company answers the phone with a generic phrase like “locksmith services,” rather than a company-specific name, be on your guard. Ask for the legal name of the business. If the customer representative does not give an answer, call another locksmith.
- Get an estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work begins.
- Ask about additional fees before you agree to have the technician come to your location. Companies may charge extra for responding to a call in the middle of the night or for driving long distance. Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum fee for a service call.
- Never sign a blank form authorizing work.
- If the price decided on over the phone does not correspond to the price of the work when the technician arrives, do not allow any work to be done.
- Ask if the locksmith is insured. If your property is damaged during the work, it’s important for the locksmith to have insurance to cover your losses.
- It is important to note that 9 states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The technicians in these states should be able to provide their license number.