Thursday, October 29, 2009

ALOA (Associated Locksmiths of America) recently launched, aiming to be the largest locksmith search engine out there.

Consumers can be assured that all locksmiths listed on the ALOA website are members of ALOA, which means they have been in the industry at least two years, they have character references from three industry sources, they were referred by an existing ALOA member, and they underwent FBI background checks, fingerprinting, and they are bonded up to $10,000.

The Key Guy highly recommends only calling locksmiths listed on Using google, yahoo, bing, and other search engines will usually yield lots of "scammer" locksmiths who are not certified, not licensed, and not insured.

It's not hard to find angry consumer reports, news articles, and lawsuits against these falsely marketed locksmiths. They permeate 411 and google with multiple listings at fake addresses, and because they are marketing scam professionals, they push out legitimate locksmiths with only a single (and REAL) listing.

Please make sure your locksmith is an ALOA member, or at the very least, insured and bonded, before you call.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FHB Fiasco Update

An update on the fiasco that has been The Key Guy's experience with First Hawaiian Bank.

After hours of perturbedness, both in person and on the phone, I finally got someone from The Bank Card Center to say that she would refund the finance charges incurred on the credit card we never received and never knew we had. FINALLY, some decent news.

This was after a week of not being able to talk on the phone with them, because apparently, even though I am a signature authority on the account AND the majority owner of the business, I "didn't have permission" to speak with them over the phone. My signature is on the signature card, my name is on all the accounts. BUT I had to have Guy confirm his name and social security number to them, which I could have done easily. I had to go into First Hawaiian Bank, in person, to have them fax the signature card to their own Bank Card Center. Even AFTER the signature card had been received, I had to wait additional days for the thing to "process." The rep still refused to speak to me even though she had personally received the signature card fax. Flabbergasting. Next time I should just lie and impersonate him.

Anyway, the rep on the phone told me I had to pay off the entire bill (without ever having received a bill) before she could credit me back the finance charges. Oh, and the payment had to clear, which would take several days. Fine. So I blindly paid off the entire bill without even having the privilege of seeing what the charges were for. I was told to call back in three days. Fine. Unreasonable, but I did it. She said she would put the charges back. Okay, all good, right?


I received a call from one of First Hawaiian Bank's Vice Presidents, telling me he was sorry for my bad experience. He said the finance charges they had faultily charged me would be put back into my checking account. My old checking account which is no longer in use. I gave him the new checking account number and he said he would take care of it. He also asked if I was sure I wanted to cancel my credit card. Um, YES I'm sure. This was about a month ago.

Fast forward to a month later. I looked over all the transactions in every account we have, and still no credit for the finance charges. Seriously? After reassurance from 2 different reps AND the VP? Seriously. I called, and apparently they STILL haven't cancelled the credit card, and they STILL left the finance charge funds on the card. SERIOUSLY??? This is beyond incompetent and inept.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cell Phone: 3 Megapixels, CCTV: 0.1 Megapixels????

Since when should the cheapest cell phone camera on the market be 300 times better than CCTV cameras used in security systems? Stimulus money, there you go!

Pick for Pie?

The classic interview response, beauty queen response, and public statement is, "I love my job because I love helping people. It feels so satisfying to be one of the 'good guys.'"

Locksmiths aren't normally thought of as beauty queens or people in the limelight, but it's still nice when a random fat guy in spandex bike shorts and glasses can stop you outside Anna Miller's and ask if you can help him pick a lock.

The nice fat man in bike shorts will explain how he must have lost the keys to his bike lock, and how he will have to somehow bus it all the way back to Kailua from Aiea because he can't use his bike, and how he won't be very awake for his 11 hour shift in the morning.

When you open his lock, he thanks you and buys you a scrumptious Peach Pie from Anna Miller's.

Sweet deal!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Feats of Key Guy Locksmith Super-Heroism on Set of LOST!

About an hour ago, a stressed girl named Lindsay called with a lockout in Manoa. "Can you hurry?" she asked, "We're filming Lost over here."

Eight minutes later, we pulled up a tiny Manoa street loaded with giant trucks, lights, equipment, and swarming with people. This was very cool for me, a total film set noob. More than one guy lifting equipment called out, "Hey! Are you here to help us? Yeah? Oh, I thought you were part of the set!"

When we finally got to the right address, they told us we couldn't park our flaming green van there because they were filming the house...uh, NOW. "Back up and park behind that truck," said about fifty people. So we backed up. And there was no room for us on the skinny residential street because there was a giant cherry-picker and scaffolding and a giant black cable snaking everywhere from 40 feet up. And everyone was still yelling at us. Okay. Can we park in the driveway? "No! Go forward I said," yelled this haole local guy, "You see dis local guy over hea? He tink he know more than us. Ho da nerve yah?" Yowch. We went further down the street past throngs of people and parked at the end of the cul de sac.

Then a 350 lb, 6'5" security guard interrogated us about what we needed. Then some local guy in boardshorts and a t-shirt came charging up to the van and said, "OkaybrahsoitwaslikethisIdidthisandeeeeerrrrandthisandthis likefourtimesinarowthen Hoooooo da ting wen jam up arready." It turns out that this hyperkid is one of the actors, and he had jammed the deadbolt with cameras rolling, a hundred people watching. If I watched the show I could probably tell you what actor he was...but, sorry, I don't have a TV.

"This is what we're gonna do," said the 350-pound security guard in a sweaty yellow shirt, "In about 3 minutes, as soon as they stop filming, you're gonna run inside the house with him," he pointed at the actor in boardshorts, "And go inside and do what you gotta do." This was a lot of pressure, what with hundreds of people watching and cameras everywhere.

The security guard said, "Ok GO!" The boardshorts actor grabbed Guy and they sped off down the hill and into the house. Literally, they ran. I never see Guy run. While they were inside, they filmed a scene with a haole guy in a suit pounding on the door and trying to get "David" to let him in the house. I found that amusing. The door was really stuck! Ha!
Five minutes later, Guy had unjammed the deadbolt and changed it out for a new one. Luckily, he had just competed in the Speed Deadbolt Installation Contest at the Vegas ALOA Convention. The girl inside with him announced it to everyone on the walkie-talkie.

Then BAM!

The door blew open and Guy was standing there. Everyone on the set swarmed to the front door and started screaming and applauding. More people congregated around him. A man shouted, "It's Guy's birthday!" Then all hundred people started singing "Happy Birthday Dear Key Guy." I started laughing. It was pretty ridiculous. Guy, beaming, took a bow and shook hands with the crowd on his way down. Someone said they should take our bill and pay us double. Men slapped him on the back. The director, actors, and other important-looking people congratulated us. A loud voice yelled, "Ey! If you get locked out, CALL THE KEY GUY!"

The man in charge of paying the bill said we'd saved him tens of thousands of dollars by fixing the door. It felt pretty sweet.

If you ever thought a locksmith could save the day (and dare I say be a superhero?), this is the time and place it happened. Guy said we should ask for an acknowledgement in the episode credits. I said, fancy that.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Hawaiian Bank: Inept, Unorganized, Infuriating

The Key Guy just got royally screwed over by First Hawaiian Bank, and you can be sure that we will avoid doing business with them in the future. The nice faces of most First Hawaiian Bank customer service workers do not make up for the complete ineptness and lack of organization or communication in their system.

We opened a business credit card with FHB back in March and they managed to royally screw it up by:

1) Sending statements to the wrong address even though we had to fill out the change of address form TWICE and go in in person TWO MORE TIMES. Prior and coincident with the wrong address, they also couldn't manage to update Guy's social security number OR my name right. Each time we were reassured that it would all be taken care of. But, uh, NO it wasn't. And still isn't.

2) They somehow managed to open two accounts when we only signed up for one, one of which was "HIDDEN" from all customer service people, credit card specialists, tellers, and basically everyone at the branch level, so that when we went IN PERSON to pay off the balance MULTIPLE TIMES over the span of SEVERAL MONTHS, they kept telling us the balance was ZERO. We even went as far as having someone at the branch call the SEPARATE "credit card office" multiple times to access the balance, since we couldn't go online, or even request a statement right there INSIDE the bank. There was no other way to do it. Convoluted, yes?

We had stopped using the card months prior because of the problem with not being able to check transactions nor access the charges online, as well as the balance doing weird things unbeknownst and unexplained by customer service.

3) FHB somehow let over $2,000+ accrue in the "parent" (I would call it "evil ghost") account-- EVEN THOUGH CUST SERVE AND CREDIT CARD SPECIALISTS TOLD US THE BALANCE WAS ZERO MULTIPLE TIMES. No one ever, ever mentioned that second account to us.

Then, someone called us late Friday afternoon to say there was that huge $2,000+ balance PLUS late charges from who knows how many months ago. Now they've screwed over our credit score and made it MY fault? I called the 24-hour hotline and was told I had a "parent account." When I asked her to explain what that was, she shrugged me off and said I needed to talk to my "business banker." She transferred me to "his" voicemail, but I was magically connected to some stranger's voice message. FAIL. IT seemed that my only choice would be to go to the bank in person.

I subsequently spent over TWO HOURS at the bank on a SATURDAY (because they called late Friday) with confused staffers who couldn't even figure out why someone from the credit card department had called us about the late fees because they couldn't see this 2nd mysterious "ghost parent" account, which we had never signed up for, never received a card for, and never been made aware of because THEY, THE BANKERS, weren't even aware of it. At least two customer service reps had never even SEEN this type of account before. One of them was my business banker, who had set up the account. MYSTERIOUS????

4) After dealing with the nice customer service rep, I asked to speak to a manager so this won't happen to anyone else. I knew I was already screwed, but I wanted to bring this glitch in the system to the awareness of management. The manager approached me like she was trying to intimidate me and like I was going to attack her when I just wanted to help. I was feeling pretty calm and good about myself for doing a good deed for random strangers. She didn't even introduce herself when I shook her hand and gave her my name, and then she made the whole thing seem like my fault and like I should be apologizing to her for having screwed up credit, an incorrect address, incorrect social security number, and wasting hours and hours of time sitting inside a bank on a Saturday . . . MASSIVE FAIL.

5) The nice customer service girl in the Makiki branch told me that all the bankers in charge of credit cards would not return until Monday. It's Monday now, and I just called them to check on the balance, see if I could order duplicate statements because I never received the originals, and find out what the transactions were. I was transferred on the phone to someone who told me I didn't have access to the account, so she couldn't tell me ANYTHING. WTH. I told her I had a copy of the account signature card right in front of me, and it bore my signature. I also affirmed that I was the owner of the business. She said my only choice was to go into the bank AGAIN. I said I'd already been there for 2 hours on Saturday, and that no one there even knew my account type existed. What they did was call the exact same department and act as a third party between me and the credit card people. Ugh ugh ugh.

They had way too many chances to set things straight and DIDN'T. Therefore, First Hawaiian Bank fails majorly in my book. I am losing sleep over this. Please beware. Look what FHB employees have to say!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


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.