Keys Examined To Avoid Locksmith Scams:
Scam Artists Stealing Business From Local Locksmiths.
The abive article reminds me of the all-too-many times we've been called by customers to "fix" work done by scamming locksmith companies. At least once a week, The Key Guy gets a call from someone whose lock doesn't work anymore after one of the "local" scam locksmiths "picked" it. Worse than that, we often hear about the exorbitant bills extracted by these so-called locksmith companies. We often hear about charges 300-400% more than a legitmate locksmith would charge. Last month, we installed a high-security lock for a man in Pearl City who paid nearly $400 for a lockout in the middle of the night. The company he called was a scammer well known to us.
We commonly hear that people just call the first locksmith that comes up in Google, or the one with an address closest to their current location using their iPhone or a friend's computer. This is dangerous because many disreputable companies create "business locations" at false addresses to prey on people who automatically trust google. My recommendation is to go ahead and call the locksmith listed closest to you, just please ask where the person you are talking to is located. Are they on Oahu? Are they in New York? What is the name of the company? Are they bonded and insured? Don't be afraid to ask! If you call someone without liability insurance, you're the one who gets screwed when they break something. Of course, there are two sides to this--you may luck out. We recently helped a crime victim only 156 yards away from us replace his locks! We were on the scene in five minutes--even before the police arrived.
The scammers can afford to rip people off because they don't care about repeat business. They advertise under many phony names, they aren't registered with the DCCA or any government agency to do business in Hawaii, and they often take cash so as not to leave a money trail or pay taxes. Their customers not only have to pay the scammers' high bills, they have to call a real locksmith in for a second go to fix a botched job, and spend even more money and time.
Equally common is the call we get from a customer with a situation that's a little more complicated than your common lockout or lock change. They've called one of the scam companies and been serviced by a locksmith who only knows how to do lockouts and re-keying. The locksmith will arrive, look at the lock, deem the job "impossible," and charge the customer a "service fee" for his time. Charging a service fee is legitimate and common practice among most locksmiths, but going to a site under false pretenses just creates frustration and wasted time for the customer. It kills me every time The Key Guy responds to a situation like this.
We have worked in close proximity to these companies since before we've been in business, and it outrages us that consumers keep calling the scammers because they just don't know any better. So please, find a trustworthy locksmith and program their number into your phone before you need help.