By Luanne Kadlub
A couple weeks ago my daughter was housesitting and within an hour she was locked out. She quickly deduced she would have to call a locksmith. That’s when I went into mom panic mode and within seconds began recalling all of the TV news shows I’ve watched profiling locksmiths gone bad.
You know the ones. You call a locksmith because you’re locked out of your house or auto and the next thing you know you’re forking over hundreds of dollars more than you were quoted and not only are you left with a hole in your wallet but with a busted-up door, too.
And then I started to remember a few years back when out-of-town (and even out-of-state) locksmith call centers were using local telephone numbers to lure unsuspecting locked-out consumers. Usually the “local” locksmiths came out of the Denver area and were charging mileage on top of exorbitant fees for service calls.
I bring this up to illustrate how you never know when you’re going to need the services of a trusted professional, be it a locksmith, a plumber or a tow truck. And how easy it is to call a not-so-trustworthy business in times of stress.
The alternative is to take a deep breath, let common sense take over, and check out the business first with your BBB. It’s easy to do by jumping online at wynco.bbb.org or by using the mobile app on your phone. You do have that installed, right?
Waiting till you’re locked out of your home, office or car is not the best time to find a locksmith. Your BBB recommends:
Find a company before you need it. The worst time to try to research a locksmith is when you’re locked out of your house or car. Get recommendations from friends, check the company’s license and check the company’s BBB Business Review. Then put the number in your wallet and in your phone and wherever else makes sense for you so you’ll have it in case of emergency.
Check licenses. Colorado does not require that locksmiths be licensed but some local municipalities do. Check with your town or city to find out if licenses are required.
Know where to turn. If you find yourself locked out of your car or home and don’t have a trusted locksmith’s phone number, check the BBB mobile app on your phone. If you are locked out of a car with your child inside, call the police.
Know the price before agreeing to the work. Though locksmiths may not always know the extent of the job before they start, they should be able to provide a fairly accurate range based on the details you provide.
Read the fine print. Be sure to read any contract thoroughly before signing and do not sign if cost of services is left blank. Check for additional fees that weren’t discussed and understand the terms of any guarantees. Ask what the company will do should the locksmith damage your property - and make sure that’s in writing as well.
Don’t pay cash. Even mobile locksmiths should be able to accept credit cards or checks. Scammers often insist that the machine is broken or give another excuse for needing cash. Don’t fall for it.
Pick a local shop. Many locksmiths are mobile businesses and others have storefronts. The important thing to look for is that the business is local and can will be easy to track down should there be a problem.
Start With Trust. For more consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org.