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How to find a good locksmith

Key takeaways

  • If locksmith prices look too good to be true—they probably are

  • Be sure to vet the locksmith before allowing them to “break into” your home or car

  • Expect to pay a premium for after-hours emergency services

Lost your keys? Just moved into a new house? Locked your keys in the car? Oops. Whatever your reason for needing one, a locksmith can help with a large range of tasks, including lock installation, lock change, rekeying locks, key duplication, key-fob duplication, lockouts, home security systems, and more. If you’re looking for a reputable locksmith, here’s what you should look for.

Locksmith Shutterstock_2169688139 Find a reputable, licensed locksmith

Start by asking friends and family for commercial locksmith referrals. Check online review sites like Yelp to see what people are saying about local locksmith companies. Another important step: Check online complaints. Search the locksmith company’s name with the word “complaint” to see if any results turn up. Lastly, visit the Better Business Bureau website for your area to research a locksmith’s customer service record and reputation.

Once you find a seemingly good locksmith, give them a call. Make sure they answer the phone with a specific business name, not a generic greeting such as “Locksmiths.” Ask them to verify their address, and request an over-the-phone estimate.

What to expect

When the locksmith arrives, look for verification of their identity. Is their vehicle branded with the company name and logo? The locksmith company name should also appear on business cards, invoices, receipts, and other paperwork. If your state requires that locksmiths be licensed, ask for proof of that credential. A valid license usually includes the technician’s name and picture, company name, an issue number ID, and expiration dates.

They’ll want to check your identity as well to make sure you own the property or car that will be worked on.

Avoid scams

Unfortunately, locksmith scams have become even more widespread over the years. Advertised or quoted prices, for example, are often too good to be true. Sometimes hidden fees are added to the bill, leaving customers with a much higher tab than expected when it’s time to pay. Some consumers report that a subcontractor said they had to break the lock as the “only way” to open the door, then tripled the original quote and demanded a cash payment. Jay Softer of Lockbusters in New York added that a locksmith who operates on a “cash only” basis is itself a red flag.

So how can you avoid being taken advantage of? For starters, be wary of a technician who insists your door knob lock or deadbolt can only be opened by destroying or drilling it. This is how a fake technician tries to triple or even quadruple the quoted price. Softer recommended calling 2-3 locksmiths to compare prices—even in an urgent lockout situation—and checking online reviews for reports of bait-and-switch tactics.

Before allowing the locksmith to begin work, go over the information you received on the phone, including pricing. If a technician tries to raise your price dramatically, you have the right to send them away without performing the work, according to Justin Ridgeway, owner of JC Lock & Key in Madison, Alabama. Although you’re not required to pay for services, Ridgeway advised paying their travel fee as a courtesy. Then get busy looking for another company. “Never let a scammer bully [you] for money,” said Ridgeway. “If they insist or make legal or physical threats, call the police.”

Look for reasonable pricing

Prices for locksmith services vary by location and job. Softer said trustworthy locksmiths will need a lot of details—or even a picture of your lock—in order to provide an accurate price. You should also expect to pay travel costs—this typically includes a trip and service-call fee. According to Ridgeway of JC Lock & Key, travel costs can range from $40-$60.

If you need emergency services late at night or on weekends, expect to pay more. After-hours and holiday fees can range from $125-$150 per visit. There may be additional fees for opening challenging locks, damaged car doors, or service calls in extreme winter weather.

Source: Yelp

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