Did you accidentally get yourself locked out of your car or home? If you did, you probably thought of calling the services of a locksmith – one you would find online or in a phonebook. But even if it’s an emergency, don’t be so quick to call without sniffing around first. A number of Warford residents have witnessed the so-called locksmith scam which consists of shady locksmiths promising low costs in their ads or over the phone, only to jack up the price when they arrive.
A number of official institutions like the Better Business Bureau have put out a warning about this scam and today we find ourselves joining them. While the scheme isn’t new by any means, it has become more prevalent in recent years and we thought that a warning was in order. To help consumers avoid such scams, we have put out a guide that will tell you what to look out for when you’re thinking of hiring the services of a locksmith.
In some cases, these unscrupulous companies use names that are similar to those of local companies, using local phone numbers and fake addresses. The FTC has warned that even though the phone number is local, the call gets routed to a call center situated in another city altogether. The locksmith, who might not have the proper training and certification often arrives in an unmarked car and gives you a significantly higher price than the one advertised. In emergency situations, customers have no other choice than to pay them. Payments are always made in cash so that credit card disputes cannot be initiated.
So how can you protect yourself?
Get informed. The best option is to find a reputable local locksmith and get their info beforehand. If you have a car and are worried about locking your keys inside then you can always pay for a roadside-assistance plan that provides such a service. If you already have a plan, inquire if a locksmith service is included. Another idea is to give a trusted family member a spare set of keys. Friends and neighbors could also fill in. Hiding your keys outside your home or car is not the best idea as you never know who might find them.
Research the company’s reputation. It’s a good idea to search online for the company’s name + “complaint” or “review” before you call them. Another way is to visit the Better Business Bureau and look there as well. If you’re not having an emergency then you can research your future locksmith by checking for complaints with the local or state consumer-protection agency.
Common-sense. If the locksmith arrives in an unmarked vehicle or doesn’t provide any kind of identification or even a business card then you have all reason to be suspicious. If something smells fishy, don’t be afraid to send him off. You are not obligated to use the service if you believe there is something wrong and you shouldn’t be intimidated into doing so.
Use a credit-card. When you call the locksmith service, ask if they accept credit-cards. If you pay with your card and the process doesn’t go as you expected it to, you can always dispute the charge with your bank. Make sure to get a receipt for services rendered. Never use cash – it cannot be traced.
Lastly, you can always file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, state attorney general or your local protection agency.
With this said, if you are looking for a reliable, professional locksmith, we recommend you visit http://automotivelocksmithatlanta.net/home-locksmith/. Mayor Adrian Wocken has used them in the past and he can vouch for their effective service and trustworthiness.