From your car’s extended warranty to a foreign prince looking to give away part of his inheritance, scams lurk around every turn looking to prey on consumers. But did you know there are scammers in Locksmithing as well? True Story. Let me break it down for you.
The first scam we see frequently is the dispatch center. Let’s say you just locked yourself out of your house. You Google locksmith or lockout services and are presented with a fantastic ad promoting a $29-$39 service charge with the added *additional fees may apply. You call the 1-800 number and usually end up connected to a call center somewhere else in the world. They then contact a “locksmith” who is usually dispatched from a metro area. In the case of LBI, they may be coming from as far away as North Jersey or Philadelphia. After you’ve waited up to several hours, someone will show up, the vehicle may not be marked (Another red flag). They will look at your lock, tell you they can’t pick or bypass it without trying, and try to charge you hundreds of dollars for the cheapest hardware on the market assuming you’re stressed and desperate enough to pay just to get it done whether you agree with the price or not.
The second scam we see is very similar to the first only they look more legitimate on Google. You may see the same $29 advertisement, however, you’ll see a local address and a local phone number. However, that local address is usually that of one of those automated key copying kiosks, such as you may see at a Walmart or Acme. The phone number routes you to a dispatch center and the cycle, as described above, begins again.
How to avoid getting scammed:
1. Make sure the company isn’t apprehensive about identifying themselves or their license number. Any legitimate locksmith will be proud to tell you their company name and should be able to tell you their license number. In the state of NJ, this number is required to be printed in conspicuous places such as business cards, advertisements, websites, pricing sheets, invoices, etc. If someone refuses to tell you their license number, run. Ours is 34LX00011100.
2. If the price seems too good to be true, it is. No one is coming to do a lockout for only $30 without planning on charging you extra in the long run. Our service charge is $89 or $119 after hours/weekends. That includes 30 minutes of labor. If I can pick or bypass the lock, that’s all you pay plus tax, end of story. If destructive entry is necessary, we will discuss price options before we touch anything. We will never charge hidden fees. Our prices are also published on our website and our Facebook page under “Services.”
3. Don’t fall for “We’re the only locksmith approved to work in your area” or threats to double the price. Scammer use these predatory tactics to pray on people that are already having a bad day. The two examples given here are real examples reported to me by a customer last week. Any licensed locksmith in the state of NJ can work anywhere in the state of NJ. There are no jurisdictional limits.
As it has been for more than 30 years, A Lock & Key is a local, family run business and customer satisfaction is our top priority. After all, we’re part of this outstanding community too!
For more helpful tips and for TL;DR see the graphic below created by a Locksmith in Australia.