Locksmith Industry Alerts
Beware of Locksmith Scammers!
Every month, Auto Lockout Express in Wichita, Kansas, receives more and more complaints from customers who have been unfairly taken advantage of by local locksmiths. The problem is —they are not "local" locksmiths.
The Associated Locksmiths of America has been hard at work assisting legitimate locksmiths in educating the public against the locksmith scams. They have found that these companies purchase multiple ads in phone books. In some cases, they use variations of the names of reputable locksmith companies, false phone numbers that are forwarded to an out of state number, and false addresses. The purpose of this is to give the customer a sense of security that they are calling a "local" business. Many of the addresses listed for these companies are vacant lots, an empty building, even a Walmart. The number you call is forwarded to a "boiler room" type set up. They answer "locksmith" because they have no way of knowing which ad you actually called.
These companies quote low rates and quick ETA times, but your final bill may be much more. They catch you off guard when you are most vulnerable.
Examples of Common Complaints
The most common complaints are overcharging. For example, the service call may be $15 - $20, but they add or "stack" charges to the service call. We have had these "other" companies charge customers anywhere from $108 to $157 to unlock their vehicles. They have charges for mileage, lock identification, key identification, lock repair, lock servicing, and some even are told a key will need to be generated. New key charges have been reported as $250 and up. While most of the incidents reported are for car unlocks, we have had the same scenario for house unlocks or other locksmithing services.
Probably the most upsetting call we have received was from a customer who needed a car unlock. The key had fallen off of her key chain. The customer saw her key lying on the floor under the steering column. But after the company unlocked the vehicle, the key was nowhere to be found. They made her a key and charged her $350. The key would not start the vehicle, and this person told her it was probably the "brain." They left her stranded at night, paying for a service and no working key.
If you have had a similar experience with a "local" locksmith company, you need to report them right away. There are several methods of reporting these incidents and protecting yourself in the future.
Associated Locksmiths of America
You can go to the Associated Locksmiths of America website (www.aloa.org) for further information and a link to file a complaint. They also have a website (www.findalocksmith.com) where reputable locksmiths are listed by area. Locksmith companies listed here are members of the association and have gone through screening processes to become members.
The Federal Trade Commission has a website to file complaints at www.ftc.gov or you can call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
The Better Business Bureau has a website where you can check on local companies and file complaints at (www.kansasplains.bbb.org).
The local consumer protection agency is also helpful. You can reach them at (www.consumeraction.gov).
All of the links above list ways to become an informed consumer and protect yourself from consumer-related scams.