The locksmith industry is plagued by rogue companies and there are stories of people paying bills of around £1000 for a £100-£200 job. This is because there is no real legislation on who can be a locksmith and companies take advantage of people when they are at their most vulnerable. There are checks that can be done to avoid this so I’m going to explain how it works from the inside and how you can protect yourself from overpaying and being left with a damaged door.
Most people will find a locksmith by searching online and this has created a situation where larger companies exploit the advertising to dominate the top position. Companies pay to be placed at the top of a search page, this will capture people when they are locked in or out of home or work and find themselves under immense pressure to find a solution quickly. Google and Bing ads are not cheap and if several people click on an ad without using the company who is advertising they can create a sizable bill that will eventually be covered by those unfortunate enough to use these companies. This is because the locksmith industry is so competitive. Ultimately customers pay for the marketing so it stands to reason that a larger company with a larger budget and more staff to pay will charge its customers more.
We have experience of a company who is actually just a call centre that subcontracts all its work out. Their method is to dominate the top places on search engines to find people who may not concentrate as much when they are in a panic. They take card payments to secure a call out fee, then they call around various locksmiths in the area to pass the job on. This model creates larger bills and longer response times for the customer. We have attended jobs where a customer has paid these companies a callout charge for a job and we have had to take it on and complete the work for them.
We have some steps to avoid paying too much, waiting too long and suffering the potential damage caused by using these companies.
- Avoid ads, these ads will have a small ad next to the listing. My advice is use this as a warning: ad = Avoid!
- Never give card details over the phone. We never take payment until emergency locksmith work is complete.
- Ask if you can speak to the locksmith; Are they a Master Locksmith Association approved company?
- Independently check reviews from reputable sources, seek recommendations from friends and family.
Smaller local independent companies work hard to build a reputation through delivering a good service, providing the best materials and employing high levels of skill.
If you want to ensure you get the best service, choose a local independent locksmith!