A few months ago, we shared a blog post filled with useful tips to help you choose a trustworthy and qualified locksmith.
We covered the two main categories most of our clients fall into, and why you should ask for references and an itemised invoice at the completion of a job. You can read that full blog post, How to choose a locksmith in Melbourne, here.
This month though, we’re turning the tables and arming you with the knowledge (and signs to look for!) to spot a dodgy locksmith or locksmith scam.
Dishonest auto locksmiths tend to prey on unsuspecting victims by capitalising on the urgency of a locksmithing job. As a result, a customer’s desperation puts a dodgy tradesperson in the unfair position to deceitfully overcharge.
Often, when we’re stuck without a car key or locked out of the home, we feel like we’d do and pay whatever it takes to make the issue go away! Ensure you don’t call victim to a locksmith scam by reading the following important information.
Get a quote IN ADVANCE
An experienced locksmith should be able to provide you a pretty accurate quote based on the information you can relay to them.
- Key stuck in the ignition?
- Locked the keys in the car?
- Lost your only house key?
- Need a new transponder key cut?
These problems are some of the most common locksmithing services, so a trustworthy locksmith (with solid experience behind his company’s name) shouldn’t have too much trouble giving you a quote that turns out to be pretty spot on.
Of course, outliers exist and it’s not guaranteed that a locksmith has a 100% strike rate with quoting, but for an experienced expert, you’d expect it to be reasonably accurate.
Find out any hidden costs
This extraordinary story from a former worker at a foreign-based locksmith company, explains how dodgy locksmiths are instructed to fabricate a charge based on individual customer features, like the car they drove, what their house looked like, the clothing they had on, and any other clues like handbags or jewellery.
The man left the company after realising he was “ripping people off on a daily basis” and “preying on people’s desperation” to get back into their car, home, or office.
Confirm a call-out fee, too
Dodgy locksmiths will often lure unsuspecting victims with an attractive low rate, say, $50. But this charge is used as bait and is then revealed to be a service or call-out fee only… while the ‘labour’ charge is still to follow.
Find out their payment methods
As almost any tradesmen would logically deduce, many people do not have on them (or even have in their home) the hundreds of dollars that a typical service may cost.
As a result, it makes sense that these sorts of people would provide a variety of convenient payment methods, most suitably, a card machine to allow customers to pay via credit or debit card.
If a locksmith demands cash payment only, be wise and keep looking. Trust your instincts!
Get them to explain the problem
Dodgy auto locksmiths might target the age of your car to drive a price up.
“Why will this service cost me a lot of money?” you ask.
If you have an old car, he might say it’s “because it’s an old car.”
If you have a new car, he might say it’s “because it’s a new car.”
Red alert! Find out the actual reason or issue.
Find out what products and brands a locksmith uses
Even if you’re no key or lock novice, it’s likely you’ve heard of some of the big brands and products used particularly in homes and offices.
Galmier uses Australia’s most well-known and quality products, including:
- Borg Locks
- Gainsbough Hardware
- Kaba Australia
Confirm an actual business name and location
I know, I know, something SO obvious… but in a state of panic or desperation, it can be often overlooked.
Many dodgy locksmiths travel all across cities (and commonly in the US, across states, too) to con as many unsuspecting victims as possible.
In this fascinating investigation by an Indiana news station, a whistle-blower reveals that dodgy tradespeople are always meant to tell customers that they are “20 minutes away”.
20 minutes, after all, is a pretty reassuring time frame, don’t you think? But these dodgy people are telling you “20 minutes”, even if they’re 40 minutes, an hour, or two hours away.
And the excuses that follow are pretty lame, too: flat tyres, bad traffic, or navigation issues.
The key is, reveals the whistle-blower, to “always keep them thinking you’re right down the road”. (If you’ve got some spare time, check out the in-depth investigation. It’s really interesting!)
Additionally, some locksmith ‘companies’ might answer their phones with generic phrases like “local locksmith” or “locksmith services” rather than an actual, registered business name.
Ask for ID upon arrival
Something so simple should be obeyed with minimal fuss… unless a locksmith has something to hide! Asking for ID is an easy way to find out who exactly is performing a certain locksmithing job.
Additional social proofs that help confirm and validate the reputability of a locksmith and their company include:
- Licences and insurance
- Endorsements and approvals
- Membership to the Master Locksmiths Association of Australia (MLAA)
Find a trusted auto locksmith… and stick with them!
A little preparation and research in advance goes a long way when you find yourself stuck in those unprecedented locksmith emergencies.
By doing some good, thorough research, you can be sure that the next time you call a locksmith to change your home locks and replace a broken lock, or call an auto locksmith to get you back into your car, you’re choosing a truly local, qualified, and professional business. If you'd like to learn more about Galmier, follow the links below.
- Auto locksmith services
- Emergency locksmith services
- Residential locksmith services
- Commercial locksmith services