What should I look out for when hiring a Locksmith near me?
It can be a challenge hiring a Locksmith with a good reputation, and Houston is no exception. Whether it’s for your car, your business, or your home, there are several things a customer should be aware of when deciding to call a locksmith. Here at Guardian Safe & Lock, we care about the consumer. In an industry flooded with scammers, we want to make sure that you’re getting the best locksmith service at the best price.
How to tell a legitimate locksmith from a scammer?
A common problem with the rise of Google and the digital age is locksmith scams known as lead generators or lead-gens. This is common even in other industries where mobile services are provided. These lead-gen operations have been a thorn in the side of honest locksmiths across the country since the early 2000s.
Let’s say you’re locked out of your car, home, or business and decide to Google a “locksmith near me”. The first way to know if you’ve accidentally stumbled onto one of these operations is the sound on the phone. Lead-gens are known as such because the business is essentially nothing more than a call center. These centers usually answer the phone with nothing more than “Locksmith!”, and essentially take calls from fake Google listings offering services at incredibly cheap prices.
Usually, when you call these scammer companies they will advertise in their ads or when on the phone a very low service charge. They quote service calls at prices between $15 to $29, which is extremely low for a reputable service company. The caveat is that the cost of labor might go up depending on the difficulty of the job or type of hardware. They use what’s called a bait and switch technique. They bait you in with the low service call and then show up and give you some story about why the price has now jumped to over $150 due to the difficulty of your type of lock or job.
With the cost of Google charging them for you clicking their link, fuel, wages, and parts, almost no locksmith service can be performed at this low of a service rate. Most lead-gens are located outside of the country while Google listings show them right in your backyard. A few even submit photoshopped buildings into Google Maps street view to give an air of authenticity. This is a very common and deceitful practice that scammers use to get to your location and then raise prices to ridiculous levels.
It Isn’t Worth Hiring a Locksmith Because They’re Cheap
These call centers then provide your information to a subcontracted ‘locksmith’, usually by text message. These “locksmiths” are trained over a period of days instead of months or even years and are usually unlicensed. Some of the more crafty scammers have even taken it a step further and set up on paper a legitimate “locksmith company”. Then they license random people that want to make quick money and falsify their experience to the local licensing authority. Which this so-called experience does not have to be validated as long as you have an owner of a company claim that you have the appropriate experience.
These ‘scammer locksmiths’ will then arrive, usually in an unmarked personal vehicle and not in any form of uniform. They then attempt to get as much money out of you as possible over a variety of ways, most of the time instantly bargaining with you to close the deal. They start by not providing a written estimate to you before work begins, or claiming that they can’t do so.
Any reputable locksmith should be able to give you at least a basic quote for the work they plan on doing for you. Then when the work is completed they will either provide no receipt and ask for cash only, or provide some generic written invoice with no company name, license number, or any means of contacting them when the work is complete. This way you can’t get warranty work, or even leave a bad review for the company you called, because you don’t have the name of the company.
Car Locksmiths, Residential Locksmiths, Buyer Beware.
For automotive lockouts or key duplication, they may claim that the car is a specific submodel or other such nonsense that makes it harder to get into or replace a key for. This is untrue, as most auto locksmith services are fairly straightforward with the make, model, and year of the vehicle.
For homes or businesses, these “scammer locksmiths” will without a doubt claim that your locks are “pick proof” and need to be drilled in order to be removed. Kwikset SmartKey locks are actually almost impossible to pick and are usually drilled, but the vast majority of homes use either a Schlage or standard Kwikset keyway.
Locksmiths practice picking and service these types of locks all the time, thousands of times a year. Any real and trained locksmith can get them open without drilling unless they are heavily aged or damaged. Yes, it is true that even some of the most experienced locksmiths have difficulty picking some locks, but it’s never their first option to gain entry.
Some may even claim that the number of pins can affect the price and that the lock must be taken apart before it can be fully determined. This is not true and is only used to try and create a narrative that your lock is stronger than most and requires more skill and work to get it open. This way you are more accepting of the fact that the charges are going to be much higher than anticipated.
Finally, the last major signs to point out a lead-gen scammer “locksmith” is a refusal to take anything but cash. This is to avoid chargebacks from banks and credit card companies when you realize you’ve been had.
They either will leave no receipt or only provide a receipt that lacks any specific information to the business they come from. It’s because they have no idea which locksmith listing you called, and they are unaffiliated with these fake listings. Make sure to check the receipt if you are given one as well, as some will list work that was never done.
Also, beware of the crafty scammers on the phone, because they will sometimes also pretend to be with another reputable company. This has happened to some of our own customers and has been a problem we’ve sometimes have had to deal with. Some of these “locksmiths” may even get aggressive with you, attempting to take you to an ATM or withholding your credit card and threatening to call the police. If you ever feel threatened or in danger, call the police straight away.
Hiring A Locksmith Near You With A Good Reputation
At Guardian Safe & Lock, we do things the right way. We’re fully insured, bonded, and licensed with the state of Texas (B16642). When you call us, you’ll reach us at our real, physical location that you can bring locks or other hardware into for service.
This storefront is where our mobile locksmith technicians are dispatched to do business, home or car work after you’ve been given a full quote and confirm the appointment.
Our professional locksmith will arrive on time, in a marked vehicle, and in a uniform with both their first name and our logo plainly visible. They can also provide their license for inspection at any point to confirm they are who they say they are. Our technicians observe the problem hardware or installation site with you and tell you what they wish to attempt before trying it.
They only resort to the destruction of locks as a last resort and will speak to you of the risks of doing so before a single drill is in hand. After service is completed, the tech will go over the charges that apply with you, explaining them, on an invoice sheet with our store’s address and phone number. We also accept credit and checks, being able to process them over mobile phones in the field or in-store through our register.
That’s the difference you get with us and other reputable, real locksmiths. Respect for the customer and transparency is our policy. You’ll never have a question we can’t answer in regards to the job, and if you do have an issue or complaint to bring up, you know exactly how and where to find us. Don’t be scammed by the fly by night locksmith scammers and due your due diligence when looking for a reputable company. Read their reviews and make sure that they have subsistence because they are getting craftier every day. Most of the scammers have even resorted to paying for hundreds of reviews from review companies so that they can flood out or water down the negative reviews. If security is your priority call Guardian Safe & Lock and will treat you like the valued customer you are. 832-534-8687