TIPS FOR FINDING A LOCAL LOCKSMITH
Our first thought whenever we locked ourselves out of our car or home, is to get a family member or friend to help us out of our situation if we had a spare set of keys. Your next call will probably be to call a locksmith. Before you make that call please consider this: According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, a lot of locksmith advertising in your local telephone book or Internet, may not be local at all. They may not even have professional training and what is even more; some of them may use intimidating tactics to overcharge you.
When “Local” Is Really Long-Distance
Consider this scenario: A company far away from your town chooses a name for its business that is very similar to the name used by a local locksmith. The company advertises in the phone book or on the Web using a local telephone number and local address. When you call the number, you are actually connected to a call center in another city. What’s more, there is no locksmith shop at the address listed.
A lot of those companies pay top dollars to come up on search engines, Some who claim to be “local locksmith” companies have multiple listings (sometimes 30 or more separate listings in a single phone book) with different names. However, the calls to each of these numbers go back to the same central number in a distant city where operators dispatch untrained individuals to do the job.
Most of those companies do not tell you the total price for the job requested, because they subcontract local so called locksmith of whom they pay a low percentage usually 30% or 40%, some of them do not have a register company with the state of Tallahassee, (Link to check) http://search.sunbiz.org/inquiry/corporationsearchbyname , also they do not have an occupational license to operate or a General Liability in case something happen and you need to make a claim, most of this guys do not drive company marked vehicle, most of them show up to your residence or place of work in private cars or van, you may be quoted a low price on the phone, keep in mind that the price only covers the service call, once the locksmith gets there he is the one who's going to determine what will be the final charge. He may want significantly more money In order for him to make money. The locksmith also may accept only cash, in some cases some of them may have a register company and may accept credit card or check.
When “Local” Is Really Long-Distance
Consider this scenario: A company far away from your town chooses a name for its business that is very similar to the name used by a local locksmith. The company advertises in the phone book or on the Web using a local telephone number and local address. When you call the number, you are actually connected to a call center in another city. What’s more, there is no locksmith shop at the address listed. You may be quoted a price on the phone, but when the locksmith arrives, often in an unmarked vehicle, he may want significantly more money. The locksmith also may accept only cash.
Some who claim to be “local locksmith” companies have multiple listings (sometimes 30 or more separate listings in a single phone book) with different names. However, the calls to each of these numbers go back to the same central number in a distant city where operators dispatch untrained individuals to do the job.
Tips for Picking a Locksmith
What is the best way to pick a reputable locksmith?
Consider researching locksmiths before you need one, the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other professional. That works well if you are looking to have some security work done at your home, like installing deadbolts on the exterior doors of your house, or a safe in your bedroom. However, if you are dealing with an emergency, like being locked out of your car, you really do not have much time for thorough research.
Regardless of whether you are locked out of your car or home, you need new locks installed, or you require other security work, the FTC offers these tips to help you hire a legitimate, local locksmith.
If you are locked out of your car and have a roadside assistance service, call them first. These services sometimes are included with the purchase of a car, or as an add-on through your unsurance company. You can buy this service separately. Roadside assistance plans often have a list of pre-aproved companies to perform services like unlocking cars, jum-starting batteries, changing flat tires, delivering gasoline and towing.
Call family or friends for recommendations. If you find a locksmith in the phone book, on the Internet, or through directory assistance, and a business address is given, confirm that the address belongs to that locksmith. Some disreputable companies list street addresses to give the impression that they are local. However, the addresses may belong to other businesses or vacant lots, if they exist at all. You can verify addresses through websites that allow you to match phone numbers with street addresses. Some legitimate locksmith companies may not include a street address in their listing because either they operate a “mobile” business or they operate their business out of their home and may be reluctant to list that address. If you call a locksmith who does not list an address, ask why. If the answer is that it is a “mobile” business, you will understand they have no storefront. Write down the names of several businesses, their phone numbers, and addresses for future reference, in case you do not want to go with the first locksmith you call.
If a company answers the phone with a generic phrase like “locksmith services,” rather than a company-specific name, be wary. Ask for the legal name of the business. If the person refuses, call another locksmith.
Get an estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work begins. In cases of “lock-outs” (being locked out of your car or home), most legitimate locksmiths will give you an estimate on the phone for the total cost of the work.
Ask about additional fees before you agree to have the locksmith perform the work. Companies may charge extra for responding to a call in the middle of the night. Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum fee for a service call.
If the price the locksmith provides when he arrives does not jibe with the estimate you got on the telephone, do not allow the work to be done.
Never sign a blank form authorizing work.
Find out if the locksmith is insured. If your property is damaged during a repair, or if faulty work leads to loss or damage, it is important for the locksmith to have insurance to cover your losses.
When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification, including a business card and, where applicable, a locksmith license. Fourteen states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington D.C. In addition to a business card, check to see if the invoice includes the company’s name, and whether the locksmith’s vehicle has a name that matches the business card, invoice, and/or bill.
Expect the locksmith to ask you for identification, as well. A legitimate locksmith should confirm your identity and make sure you are the property owner before doing any work.
Some locksmiths will work out of a car for quick or emergency jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle that is clearly marked with their company’s name.
In the case of a lockout, be cautious if you are told up front that the lock has to be drilled and replaced. An experienced legitimate locksmith has invested in the tools and education to provide quality service, and can unlock almost any door.
After the work is completed, get an itemized invoice that covers parts, labor, mileage, and the price of the service call. In situations where you have more time, check out locksmiths with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no unresolved complaints on file. This is true whether you need a locksmith for a one-time job, or you want to hire someone to work for you on a continuing basis. You must be able to trust your locksmith. You do not want to give access to the locks for your home, car, or place of business to just anyone.
In Case there’s a Next Time
Once you have found a reputable locksmith, keep the company’s name and contact information in your wallet and address book at home or at work. You also may want to program this information into your home and cell phones. This can save you time and trouble the next time you need these services.
If you have a problem with a locksmith, try to resolve the dispute with the company first. Make sure you act quickly. Some companies may not accept responsibility if you fail to complain within a certain time. If you cannot get satisfaction, consider contacting your local consumer protection agency for information and assistance.
You also can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and your state Attorney General.