There are times when everyone needs a locksmith. Sometimes this involves having locks replaced, but usually when people are in need of a locksmith, it’s an emergency or time is of the essence – such as when keys are locked in cars or people are unable to get inside their homes. No matter how stressful the situation, Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota ® (BBB) reminds people they need to take the time to look after their interests and ensure they’re making good choices when hiring a locksmith.
“Though locksmiths aren’t near the top of our list in terms of volume of complaints, the resolution rate of complaints we do receive is well below our overall average,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Just 50% of the complaints filed in the last three years against locksmiths in our area have been closed as resolved.” Overall, the BBB complaint resolution rate is around 90%.
The majority of complaints filed against locksmiths involve situations where consumers allege they were quoted one price and then the final bill proved higher than expected. To help avoid situations like this, BBB recommends the following:
- Check with the BBB for free Business Profiles on companies before choosing one to do business with. Our Business Profiles have been optimized for smartphones and are available at org or by telephone at (800) 646-6222. Find BBB Accredited locksmiths via our Online Directory (bbb.org/minnesota/accredited-business-directory).
- If there’s time, shop around. There are times it may not be feasible to get multiple estimates. Still, it’s always a good idea to do at least some research. Go over customer reviews for companies through BBB and other online sources. When possible, seek estimates from at least three companies. Ask what the price quoted includes: is it just the service call or does it also factor in labor and parts? Make sure there are no hidden fees. Also, get names from company representatives you converse with on the phone.
- Get an itemized estimate. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.
- Ask for a worst-case scenario. A knowledgeable locksmith will know of any potential circumstances that may arise which would incur extra charges, so always ask for a worst-case scenario estimate. Provide the locksmith with as much information as possible.
- Does the locksmith have a shop? Find out if the locksmith has a shop rather than just a website or an ad in the phone book. Make sure the company has a physical address listed. Remember, all service vehicles should be clearly marked with the company name.
- Be aware of companies who use an 800 number. If you are dialing an 800 number, chances are good the company is based out of state.
- Ask if the company is insured. Anyone can make a mistake; if work performed leads to property damage, their insurance should cover any losses. Also, ask for references and follow up on those references.
- Be cautious if a locksmith immediately tells you they have to drill and replace the lock. Make sure you’re comfortable with the locksmith’s recommendations. If you get an uneasy feeling about the approach they’re proposing it’s probably best not to proceed. Be aware, though, you may still be charged a service fee, even if you call off the work.
- Ask for ID and a business card. When the locksmith arrives, ask for their ID and a business card. Be sure you’re comfortable with the person you’re entrusting your security with. They should also ask for your ID. Be sure to make checks out to the company, not the technician.
- Always verify claims. Ask for proof of claims such as “Locally owned and operated”; “45 years in business”; or “We’re # 1.” Be aware that some companies may also list certain certifications that are incorrect or out of date.
- Be leery of exaggerated claims. Claims like “Service in 15 minutes” or “We’ll beat any price” are easy to make but tough to deliver on.
- Treat this as a security issue. Locksmiths have access to your house/car: you are entrusting your security to them.
- Pick a company from the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA). ALOA is an organization of locksmiths who abide by a code of ethics, have professional trainings, are aware of industry news in their area, are able to obtain professional certification levels through standardized testing, agree to analyze security problems and provide best solutions for their clients, and agree to abstain from using improper or questionable methods of soliciting patronage. For more information about the ALOA, visit aloa.org.
The mission of Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. We are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact BBB at bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.