Why Should You Hire a Licensed Locksmith?
The quick answer to this question is that not all locksmiths are created equal. Keep reading for the long (and more complete) answer.
Have you ever locked yourself out of your car or home? Most people have been in that situation. It can be frustrating, time consuming, and stressful, especially if you’re in a hurry, your kids are in the locked car, or it’s particularly hot or cold outside. If a family member or friend can’t bring you your spare set of keys, then your only other viable option is to call a locksmith (unless you want to break a window!). Before you make that phone call, though, take this into consideration: The Federal Trade Commission reports that some locksmiths advertising in your local phone book or on the Internet might not be local at all. In addition, they might not have professional training, which can cost you more money in the long run.
What do you mean they’re not local? They have a local address and area code!
This is what happens: a company that is not licensed and is nowhere near your home chooses a name for its business that closely resembles that of a local locksmith. They might even go so far as to use a fake address that is really close to your local locksmith (perhaps in the same shopping center). When you call, you’re actually connected to a call center in another city. You explain your situation and are quoted a price over the phone, but when the locksmith arrives, his car is unmarked and he wants significantly more money. Moreover, he’ll probably only accept cash.
People who claim to be a “local locksmith” typically have several listings (sometimes up to 30 per phone book) with different names. The calls to each of these locksmiths, however, will all take you to the same call center, where untrained individuals are dispatched to your location. Do you really want to give one of these unskilled, dishonest individuals access to your home or car?
So, how do I pick a licensed locksmith?
The best way to pick a licensed locksmith is by researching them before you need one. Don’t wait until you’re in panic mode, because that’s when you’re most likely to make hasty decisions. Research locksmiths the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other contractor.
If you’re standing outside of your car or home, then you probably don’t have time to do
any sort of thorough research. Follow these helpful tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
- If you’re locked out of your car and have roadside assistance service through your car insurance company or AAA, call them first. Typically these types of services have lists of pre-approved companies that can perform services such as unlocking cars, jump starting batteries, changing flat tires, towing, and delivering gasoline.
- Call close friends or family for their recommendations.
- If you do search the Internet, Yelp, or the phone book, know that some locksmiths run mobile businesses or run their business out of their home, so they are reluctant to put their address on the Internet (understandably so!). If they have no address listed, just ask them why. If they give you either of the above two reasons, then they are likely legitimate.
- If you call a locksmith and their phone greeting is something generic such as “locksmith services” (as opposed to their company name), this should raise a red flag for you. Ask for the legal name of the business and if the person refuses, hang up and try the next person.
- Make sure that the locksmith is insured. In the event that your property is damaged during the repair, you want their insurance to cover the damages, not yours.
- When the locksmith arrives, ask for their identification and a business card. In the state of California, it is illegal to run a locksmith service without a license. If they are a legitimate, licensed company, their license number will be on all of their information (vehicles, business cards, invoices, etc).
- A legitimate locksmith should ensure that you are, in fact, the property owner before beginning any work on your car or home.
- If you are locked out and the locksmith tells you that the lock has to be drilled and replaced, be very wary. A trained and experienced locksmith will have invested in the tools and education necessary to provide quality service, and therefore can unlock almost any door without completely ruining the lock.
- Upon completion of the work, ask for an itemized invoice that covers parts, labor, mileage, and overall price of the service call. Do not let him leave without giving this to you!
- If you have the time, check out the locksmiths you’ve found with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, or the BBB (Better Business Bureau) to make sure that they are licensed and don’t have any outstanding complaints or customer service issues. Whether you’re going to use a locksmith just once or on a continuing basis, you need to be able to trust them. Don’t hand over access to your home, car, or office to just anyone.
If it happens again…
You’re not going to receive any judgment from us if you’ve locked yourself out of your car or home more than once. It happens! That’s why we recommend keeping the name and contact information for a reputable locksmith in your wallet or somewhere else safe.
Hiring an unlicensed locksmith can lead to a lot of problems for you—price gouging, unnecessary repairs, and surprise fees can all lead to you paying more money than necessary. A licensed and reputable locksmith knows that his business and reputation are on the line every time he’s contacted for a service, so his focus is going to be on customer service and satisfaction.
If you’re still not sure whether or not your locksmith is licensed, check out the link “search a licensed contractor” at the bottom of our website: http://www.communitylock.net.