Tell us if this feels familiar – you’ve overslept a little bit and you’re rushing to get to work on time. You storm out of your apartment, close the door, but wait, you forgot to pick up your key from the counter. Now you’re standing outside of your own place and you can’t get in.
What do you do? If you’re lucky, a neighbour has a spare key or someone’s still in the apartment, but, given how these things usually play out, none of the above is true and you’re stuck out of your apartment. So, in that case, all that it’s left do to is pick up the phone and call for a locksmith. However, you’ve heard at least a dozen stories about scamming locksmiths who come up, do a job, complain about doing it, while they’re doing it and in the end, they jack up the price.
So, what do you do about that? How can you know that someone is about to scam you and how can you avoid it? Well, there’s more than one scam, unfortunately. However, we’ve decided to cover the most common ones and show you how you can recognize and avoid them. Let’s get started.
1. Unrecognizable, Broad Name
Now, granted, unless you’re really forgetful and you have your locksmith on speed dial, chances are every locksmith’s name is going to be unrecognizable to you. However, you can pay attention to not-so-subtle details when it comes to these companies’ name. In most cases, these companies’ aren’t even companies – they’re just sub-contracting call-centres with broad, geographical names as their ‘company name’. These so-called conglomerate locksmith companies are basically looking to cover as much ground as they can – since they don’t do any work themselves. You give them a call, they redirect you to an independent local locksmith and that’s how they get the job done. So, if you see a name like ‘NY’s Finest Locksmiths’, consider that a red flag and give someone else a call.
2. They Don’t Answer The Phone With The Company Name
Whenever you call up a business, usually what you hear on the other side is a person introducing themselves and the company they work for. Even those annoying telemarketers do so. It’s just a way a professional company does business – regardless of what they do. On the other hand, if you pick up the phone, call for help and once they answer you hear ‘Hello, a locksmith at your service. How may we help you?’ – that probably means you’re dealing with some conglomerate.
Now, these call-centres aren’t necessarily bad, they’re just unreliable. They’re outsourcing tens or even hundreds of individuals, so in the end, you may even end up with someone that you haven’t even spoken on the phone. A professional, licenced locksmith company will always answer the phone with the company name.
3. The Ad Is Simply Too Good
If you see an ad that’s too good to be true, that’s usually because it actually is. There’s no such thing as really cheap, quality service – that’s just not the way it works. So, let’s say you grab yellow pages or you search for ‘nearby locksmiths’ and stumble upon an ad that says the service will be under $15 – don’t call. No respectable locksmith would charge that much if they wanted to stay in business. Now, you may not know how much a regular locksmith would charge for their services, so $15 might seem appropriate to you. However, the usual rate is somewhere at about $50. Depending on the services required, it could be slightly less or slightly more, but it’s never as low as $15.
4. They Won’t Discuss Rates
Any respectable business is open and upfront about its pricing. That’s just the way it goes. You don’t enter a boutique, grab a few items of clothing and then hope for the best once the payment time comes. This is no different, only instead of a shirt – you’re paying for a service. If you call a locksmith and they refuse to give you an accurate estimate or they say something along the lines of ‘we’ll see once the job is done’ – you can be certain they’re trying to scam you out of some money. You should be able to know right away how much the whole thing is going to cost. If they won’t tell you – move on, find another one.
5. They Complain
One of the oldest tricks in the book is complaining when working, to make something seem far more complicated than it actually is, only so you can charge more. People have been doing this one for centuries now, so, don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. What happens is, usually the locksmith will try and fix the problem and they’ll start talking about how old or how new the lock is and that they can’t pick it, so they’ll have to drill and replace the lock. First of all, unless you’re locked out of Pentagon, any respectable locksmith should be able to deal with the lock you got – so, that’s a lie. This is nothing more than a ploy to get you to purchase a new lock, usually the inferior to the one you already own and the one they can overcharge you for. So, if the locksmith starts complaining about the lock being too ‘old’ or ‘new and complex’ – just abort the thing and call someone else.
6. No Uniform
Another tell-tale sign that you’re about to be scammed out of some money is the fact that the locksmith is not dressed appropriately. Now, we’re not saying they’re going to show up in a tux, but, a legitimate locksmith company will have uniforms with their logo printed on and so on. Also, a locksmith would carry an ID to show he’s the one he claims he is and to show who he’s working for.
7. Ask The Right Questions
Now, we’ve told you about some common scams and some red flags – but, can you do something else to identify the scammer? In a word, yes. You can ask specific questions before you even hire a locksmith to determine whether it’s a legitimate handyman or a scammer. For instance, you can ask:
- Where do you work and where are you located?
- Do you need a photo of my lock?
- How long will the job take?
- Will you have to drill and replace my lock?
- Do you accept credit cards?
- Are you licenced?
If you want to know more about this subject, including spotting scammers and changing locks, you can find additional info at https://locksmithtucson.us/ a professional locksmith company from Arizona, Tucson. Hopefully, we have managed to make it clear as to how you can spot the scammers and how you can avoid them.