Get to Know Your Locksmith
If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your car or home, you know what a hassle it can be. Your first thought is to get someone to help you out of your situation. If a family member or friend can’t deliver a spare set of keys, your next call might be to a local locksmith. But before you make that call, consider this: According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, some locksmiths advertising in your local telephone book may not be local at all. They may not have professional training. What’s more, some of them may use intimidating tactics and overcharge you.
- Find a locksmith before you need one. This gives you the opportunity to perform proper due diligence.
- Use the following sources to find a reputable locksmith:
- Find an Accredited locksmith listed with Better Business Bureau.
- Get a referral from family, friends or neighbors.
- If you’re locked out of your car and have a roadside assistance service, call them. These services sometimes are included with the purchase of a car, or as an add-on through your insurance company. If you find that you do not have roadside assistance, call Pop-A-Lock Atlanta.
- If you find a locksmith on the Internet, beware of the locksmiths using paid ad listings. None of the reputable locksmiths in Atlanta use paid ads.
- 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.
- Every reputable locksmith can provide you with a firm price on unlocking your door or rekeying your house. Steer clear of locksmith companies that won’t provide you with a fixed price on these services.
- Never sign a blank estimate for locksmith services. If you do, you may find yourself liable for any surprise charges the locksmith puts down after the service.
- 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 a fixed fee 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 doesn’t jibe with the estimate you got on the telephone, do not allow the work to be done.
- 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’s 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. Nine states require locksmiths to be licensed: Alabama, California, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. 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 reputable locksmith should confirm your identity and make sure you’re 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 lock-out, be cautious if you’re 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.
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 can’t 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.