Locksmiths – How to Avoid Being Ripped Off
Losing your keys and finding yourself unexpectedly locked out can be a very stressful situation, particularly if it happens late at night. Finding a good locksmith who can get to you quickly will be a priority. But how do you avoid being ripped off by a rogue locksmith?
Use Search Engines like Google Wisely
If you then use your mobile phone or tablet to find a locksmith, the most common reaction is to call the locksmith that appears right at the top of the list of Google’s Search Results Page. This is usually the very worst thing that you can do. This is because the first few results are reserved for pay per click (PPC) adverts. You can tell if a listing is paid for because there is a small square with Ad next to the website link. This means that these companies have not reached the top of the search results page because they have had lots of good customer reviews or they have been in business a long time but purely because they have paid Google (or another search engine) to be there. Also, if a company is paying to advertise their company the money will have to be recouped somehow, usually in higher charges for their customers.
Always Check Online Reviews
A locksmith company with no reviews or lots bad reviews should set off alarm bells. Likewise a locksmith with all their reviews posted around the same time should give cause for concern. A good locksmith will have lots of 5* reviews from satisfied customers spread throughout the calendar year. It is really worth reading reviews carefully because as well as finding out how well the locksmith does their job, you can usually get a feel for the type of personality they have and how easy they are to get along with. No one wants a dour or angry tradesmen arriving at their door in the middle of the night.
Make More than One Call
When you start calling round locksmith companies it is very tempting to just go ahead and choose the first one who answers the phone. This may be a mistake as national locksmith companies have call centres which will always have someone there ready to take your call but don’t always have someone available to do the work. They often subcontract their locksmiths so they will only be able to offer you a rough estimate of when they will arrive at the job. In contrast, if you call a local locksmith they will be able to give you a pretty accurate time of arrival because they know the area well and the quickest routes to get to you.
As well as this, a company with a call centre has extra staff. This means that the price you pay for a call out needs to cover these extra costs. This usually means that a national locksmith will charge much higher prices for the exact same job. A telltale sign that you are dealing with a national locksmith is if they ask for card details over the phone. No local locksmith will ever take card details before a job is complete. For this reason, it is always worth calling a few companies to compare prices before going ahead. It may seem odd, spending time making more calls when you want help quickly, but in the long run, doing this could in fact save you both time and a substantial amount of money.
Ask About the Extras
Sometimes what you think you are going to pay and what you end up having to pay, are two very different things. Some locksmiths are very vague about costs over the phone and say they will need to wait until they are at your property and see the job. Of course, by the time this happens, it is very difficult to turn them away because they are too expensive. They may also talk on the phone about ‘call-out charges’ and ‘the first hour’s labour charge’. This should alert you to the fact that you may be dealing with an expensive national call centre locksmith. A good local locksmith is much more likely to be very upfront and accurate about costs. They will know the right questions to ask to understand the problem even before they arrive at your home.
So remember that when calling a locksmith, make sure to:
• ask if there is a ‘call-out’ charge
• ask if they charge by the hour or for the complete job
• ask for a price for any parts they think you might need
• be wary if they ask for your card details over the phone
Right to Cancel
If, after doing all this you are still not happy with the person that arrives, e.g. they start inflating the price quoted or they turn up in an old car with no branding on it as opposed to a work van with proper signage, you have the legal right as a consumer to cancel the job, WITHOUT PENALTY or cancellation charges. Don’t let rogue traders or companies intimidate you into paying what you don’t have to.
Being locked out of your home late at night is never pleasant. However, if you remember to choose your locksmith wisely this type of situation can usually be dealt with quickly, for a reasonable price and with minimal mess and fuss.