Has this ever happened to you? You’re locked out of your house, you find a locksmith in the Yellow Pages or online, you call. “No problem,” they say, “we come right over and unlock the door for you. And all that for $35!”
Oh, they do come right over. That’s not the issue. The locked out homeowner is relieved. But that feeling soon changes when the locksmith demands payment up front, in cash, and by the way, it’s triple or quadruple of what was quoted on the phone.
The first clue that something is not right, the “locksmiths” almost always arrive in an unmarked, personal vehicle. They don’t wear uniforms, have a company ID or business card. And when asked to show their license (if this happens in a state where licensing is required), they come up with all kinds of excuses why they can’t show it to you. Or, they produce a fake license. Once they start working it’s also apparent that they’re not trained locksmiths.
Fifteen states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Connecticut residents can check online to see if a locksmith license has been issued and if it is valid: https://www.elicense.ct.gov/Lookup/LicenseLookup.aspx
Television news, newspapers, and online news sites are full of reports where unsuspecting homeowners get cheated out of money after they called, what they thought to be a reputable locksmith to help them get back into their home. These unscrupulous operations aren’t just contained to one state, unfortunately this happens to trusting people throughout the entire country.
So what can you do in the worst case scenario – you got burned and overcharged:
– Try to resolve the issue with the company
– File a complaint with your state’s Department of Consumer Protection (below are links to each state’s Consumer Protection web page)
ND North Dakota
NJ New Jersey
NM New Mexico
NY New York
RI Rhode Island
SD South Dakota
– File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov
The best way to protect yourself: have the name of a reputable and trustworthy locksmith ready for emergency situations such as a lockout.
Jim Arsenault is a Connecticut licensed Master Locksmith with over 30 years experience. He’ll repair or install a new lock at your Connecticut home or business and you’ll always be charged a fair price. Email Jim or give him a call at 860-678-9797.