In the past year there has been a surge in rogue locksmiths visiting people’s houses and massively overcharging them for standard jobs that shouldn’t cost much. But there are ways for customers to check if a locksmith is bona fide before they potentially end up with shoddy work, a hefty bill or – worse – both.
Locksmiths are the sort of professionals you only call when you need them – such as if your lock has broken, you need a replacement key or you have been locked out. While the vast majority of locksmiths around the country are reputable, there are a few bad apples out that spoil it for the others and try to take advantage of people when they need someone to make their home, business or vehicle secure.
But there are ways to spot if a locksmith isn’t legitimate, and if you follow these tips, you can help to ensure you get a quality service for a reasonable price.
Before you engage a locksmith on a job, get them to provide a full no-obligation quote and ensure that there is no scope for hidden extra charges to be added. If the locksmith is vague on price details or cannot give an accurate estimate, then it is best to avoid them.
Some disreputable locksmiths will have adverts claiming their services are available for a seemingly very low price (e.g. £40). As with many other aspects of life, if an offer seems too good to be true, it generally is and should be avoided as they could try to add extra costs to the job once they have started.
Check online reviews
While online reviews can be a bit of a minefield, there are some general rules. If the locksmith company doesn’t have any reviews, or a lot of bad reviews, then they are best avoided. Reputable locksmiths will have lots of four- and five-star reviews. Read the reviews carefully as you can get a feel for the quality of their work and their personality.
Get quotes from more than one locksmith
It can be tempting to go for the first locksmith you come to in an online search, especially if you are pushed for time, but it can pay to call around. You can get a variety of quotes, which can give you a sense of a realistic price, although don’t always be tempted to go for the lowest priced locksmith – as mentioned above, if a price seems too good to be true it often is.
Look for branding and identification
Many locksmiths have their own company branding, whether they work for a large company of locksmiths or are one-man-bands. If the locksmith turns up in an unmarked van or without proper signage on it and wearing regular clothes, then alarm bells should start to ring.
Also, ask for some form of identification. Any reputable locksmith will be happy to show you their credentials before stepping over the threshold into your home or business.
Bogus Police claims
Some rogue locksmiths make claims in their adverts that they are ‘Police recommended’ or ‘Police approved’ – but these are false: the Police do not recommend or approve specific locksmiths. Some rogues have even falsely used a Police force logo on their van.
Some genuine locksmiths do undertake jobs for the Police but won’t make claims about being recommended by them.
False third party claims
In a similar vein to the above, some cowboy locksmiths may make false claims about being accredited or certified by a trade association or being vetted by a third party. It is always worth checking these claims against the association or third party mentioned.
Sometimes when you call a number you think is for a local locksmith it actually goes to a nationwide company or call centre, and these places may use subcontractors, and often the name of the subcontractor is not shared so you don’t know who is coming to your house or business to fix the lock.
If you suspect you have gone through to a call centre, then there are certain questions you can ask: what is the name of the locksmith who will be coming out to you? Is the work being subcontracted out? If so, ask for the name and contact details of the subcontractor so if there is a problem, you can get in touch directly. Finally, ask who your contract is with and who you will be paying.
Drilling the lock
When a locksmith comes to your home/place of work to fix a lock or get you back inside if you have been locked out and quickly wants to move to drilling your lock, that is a red flag. Reputable locksmiths will try a variety of non-destructive methods of opening a lock, leaving drilling as a last resort. Generally, drilling a lock is only considered if the lock is damaged beyond repair or if it will need to be replaced, such as if keys have been stolen.
If this happens, you are within your rights to ask them to stop. Drilling a lock is a much more expensive job than simply picking a lock, for example.
If you follow these tips, then you will reduce the chances of employing a rogue locksmith. But please remember that the vast majority of locksmiths operating in this area and around the country aren’t cowboys and will do a professional job for a reasonable price.
If you live in Leicester or the surrounding county and need a reputable locksmith, then give Inta-lock Locksmiths a call. Our locksmiths are experts in fixing locks and keys for homes, businesses and vehicles, and our prices are competitive with any other locksmith in the Leicester area. Call one of our friendly team for a full quote for a job, and to book a convenient time for one of our qualified professionals to come out to your home or business. If it is an emergency, we can dispatch a locksmith to be with you within an hour.