Regardless of whether you are locked out of your car or
home, you need new locks installed, or you require other security work, the
following are tips for hiring a reputable locksmith.
family or friends for recommendations.
find a locksmith in the phone book, on the Internet, or through directory
assistance, and a business address is given, keep in mind that some
disreputable companies list street addresses to give the impression that they
are local or that they operate out of an actual building at the stated address.
Do an internet search. Use the company name with words like "complaint" or "review."
If being local is important to you, ask questions about the
business location before hiring a locksmith.
Questions to consider asking:
Where is your
Is your location an
How long have you
been operating in that location?
Where were you
How long have you
been in business?
legitimate locksmith companies may not include a street address in their
listing because they either operate a “mobile” business or they operate their
business out of their home and may be reluctant to list that address. Write
down what you are told, if possible. Not only could it help you make a
decision, but it could also provide information should the locksmith turn out
to be disreputable.
the Bureau of Consumer Protection to inquire about complaints on file. Also,
contact the Better Business Bureau [www.bbb.org, (800) 273-1002] to get the
company answers the phone with a generic phrase like “locksmith services,”
rather than a company-specific name, ask for the legal name of the business. If
the person refuses to tell you, call another locksmith.
offers for multiple discounts, emergency service promotions, claims of lowest prices,
“No. 1” self-ratings and other puffery (exaggerated praise in advertising or
estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work
begins. If you can get a written estimate, that is even better. In cases of “lock-outs”
(being locked out of your car or home), most legitimate locksmiths will give
you an estimate on the phone for the total cost of the work.
locksmith arrives and has the chance to inspect your lock, ask if the estimate
given over the phone has changed. If it has, you may want to seriously consider
getting a different locksmith.
case of a lock-out, be cautious if you are told up front that the lock has to
be drilled and replaced. An experienced legitimate locksmith should have the
appropriate tools and education to provide quality service to unlock almost any
additional fees before you agree to have the locksmith perform the work.
Companies may charge extra for responding to a call in the middle of the night.
Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum fee for a service call.
if the locksmith is insured and ask the name of the insurer.
Write it down if you can. If your property is damaged during
a repair, or if faulty work leads to loss or damage, it is important for the
locksmith to have insurance to cover the cost of their mistake.
sign a blank form authorizing work.
pay for service in advance and always ask that parts that are replaced be
returned to you.
locksmith arrives, ask for identification. A driver’s license is best because
it contains a picture and other information, like the state that issued it
whether it is expired or not. Also ask for a business card.
Check to see if the invoice includes the company’s name, and
whether the locksmith’s vehicle has a name that matches the business card,
invoice, and/or bill. Also check for any discrepancies between the invoice, the
business card, and the identification.
the locksmith to ask you for identification, as well.
work is completed, get an itemized invoice that covers parts, labor, mileage,
and the price of the service call.
are locked out of your car and have a roadside assistance service, call them
first. These services sometimes are included with the purchase of a car, or as
an add-on through your insurance company. You also can buy this service
separately. Roadside assistance plans often have a list of pre-approved
companies to perform services like unlocking cars, jump-starting batteries,
changing flat tires, delivering gasoline, and towing.
much research as you can before choosing a locksmith.
tips for non-emergency situations. They are just as important in emergency
Once you have found a reputable locksmith, keep the
company’s name and contact information in your wallet and address book at home
or at work. You also may want to program this information into your home and
cell phones. This can save you time and trouble the next time you need these
If you have a problem with a locksmith, try to resolve the
dispute with the company first. Make sure you act quickly. Some companies may
not accept responsibility if you fail to complain within a certain time.
(Some information taken from the Federal Trade Commission
fact sheet, “The Keys to Hiring a Reputable Locksmith”, February 2008.)