According to the Better Business Bureau untrustworthy locksmiths are “ripping off consumers” across the country.
The BBB says unhappy customers complain that these locksmiths significantly overcharge, charge for unnecessary services, and use intimidation tactics. In some cases, the final bill is four times as much as the quoted price. They have made taking advantage of people who are locked out of their house or car part of their business model.
On a cold night in December a woman was locked out. At her neighbor’s house she looked in the Yellow Pages and found a locksmith close by. When she called they told her the price would be $35.
The locksmith arrived in an unmarked vehicle, rather than a commercial van and demanded money upfront. That’s usually the case with these dishonest operations. But suddenly the price wasn’t $35 as quoted. It was $95.
The woman paid the amount but felt that she had been scammed and contacted the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Find a good locksmith before you need one. That’s a good idea, but most people don’t do that.
Be careful. Don’t pick a company at random based on an ad in the phone book. If you’re stuck in a situation where you need help right away, try to find a familiar name.
If you can get to a computer, check out the company’s website. If it doesn’t look professional and trustworthy stay away from them. If you can’t go online, call a friend and see if they know of a good local company.
Be suspicious of anyone who shows up in an unmarked vehicle. Never pay before the work is done. Whenever possible, use a credit card. It has built in fraud protection. Finally, if you’re not comfortable with the person who shows up, don’t use them.
If you do get burned, let someone know about it. File complaints with the Better Business Bureau and your state’s consumer protection or Attorney General’s office.