Last Updated: 5:23 pm | Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Be careful of the locksmith you decide to trust
When you have to call a locksmith in an emergency, would you know whom to call? Many people have no idea, so turn to the yellow pages for company names and phone numbers.
But before you call any of them, an area woman learned, you have to be very careful.
Bobbi Watson found herself locked out of her Dayton, Ky. home earlier this year. Her fianc called the information operator to find a locksmith.
"He called information and Dependable Locks was the first company they directed us to," Watson said. "He spoke with a gentleman on the phone who quoted him $50 or so which, on a Sunday night, we figured was a reasonable price to do this,"
But, when Dependable Locksmith got there, problems quickly developed. For instance, the $50 price turned into $149 when all the different fees were added together.
There was a fee for opening the lock as well as a service call fee and, finally, a labor charge.
The Better Business Bureau reports the company has an unsatisfactory record with several complaints about overcharging. The BBB says the price quoted on the phone is described by consumers as being misleading and deceptive.
Watson says the amount charged was just one of the problems.
"In less than five minutes he had the door open and we were in. Then he said, 'OK, do you have a key to your house.' So, I went and got the key and gave it to him, but it wouldn't work," she said.
Watson says she called Dependable Locksmith, a division of Superb Solutions in Bronx, N.Y., and asked about the broken lock.
"They won't discuss anything with me, absolutely nothing ... I can't even get a hold of the original person that was at my home that night and opened my door," she said.
The BBB reports the Ohio Attorney General sued Superb Solutions last June, claiming it is violating Ohio Consumer Protection Laws.
In 2005, the BBB reports, the Chicago Department of Consumer Services fined the company for numerous, repeated violations of the city's ordinances prohibiting deceptive business practices.
A spokeswoman for the company told me it always gives an estimate of from $55 to $150 and, in some cases, is forced to damage a lock in order to get it open.
The spokeswoman says consumers are always told in advance if they have to drill the lock, but Watson says she was not told in advance.
If you have to find a locksmith in an emergency, be sure to check them out as carefully as you can beforehand. Make sure they have a local address and phone number, even though you won't have time to check out their references.
Remember, a locksmith will charge from $30 to $100 per hour, plus the cost of any new locks needed. Finally, be sure to get enough keys for any new locks you buy.
Montrose, New York
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