As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, complaints about being duped by rogue locksmiths have been on the rise. The largest trade body in the UK, the Master Locksmiths Association (MLA)1 has issued a strict warning to people to not let their guard down as the latest statistics reveal a worrying trend about the situation worsening. Although you’re a nervous wreck when faced with a “lost car keys” situation or require a replacement car key, when you frantically search for an “auto locksmith near me”, bearing the following tips in mind can help you identify such rogue car locksmiths. And most importantly, you would know where to go and what to do if you’ve been ripped off by one.
How to identify Rogue Locksmiths
If you’re staring at a broken car key or lock, and you need a replacement car key or worse, you have either lost your car keys or require a car lockout service, you hastily search for an auto locksmith. The following tips will help you find a legitimate auto locksmith who provides service for a variety of car brands and ensure that you get the job done for a reasonable price without compromising on quality.
- Transparent Charges: Before you finalize an auto locksmith, try to acquire a proper price that does not come with a rider, i.e., a no-obligation quote, and make sure that there are no hidden charges involved. Avoid an auto locksmith who gives you vague answers such as an inaccurate estimate or price details or an extremely low price.
- Check Online Reviews: Avoid auto locksmiths who don’t have plenty of bad reviews or don’t have any reviews. A reliable and reputable auto locksmith has loads of 4- and 5-star reviews. Read all the reviews judiciously to understand the quality of the auto locksmith’s work.
- Acquire Quotes from more than one Auto Locksmith: In your haste, do not go for the first auto locksmith that you come across in your online search as it does pay to get multiple quotes and call around to get a fair idea of how much it should cost you.
- Look for Branding & Identification: If an auto locksmith shows up wearing regular clothes in a van without proper signage on it or is unmarked, it is best to avoid such locksmiths. Additionally, if the auto locksmith does not show any form of identification or credentials, think twice before employing his/her services.
- Fake Police Claims: Certain rogue auto locksmiths make bogus claims of being Recommended or Approved by the Police in their advertorials. It is important to know that the Police don’t approve or recommend any locksmiths. Some rogue locksmiths even falsely display the Police’s logo on their van. Beware of such locksmiths.
- Deceitful Third-Party Certification/Claims/Accreditation: Some rogue auto locksmiths make fake claims about being certified/accredited by another third party or trade association. Remember to verify such claims.
- Subcontractors: Avoid auto locksmiths where a call center responds as there are chances of a subcontractor visiting you. Often, the subcontractor’s details and name are not shared so you do not know who is doing the job or who you are paying.
- Drilling the Lock: A reliable auto locksmith will try various non-destructive options of opening a lock, and consider drilling the lock as a last resort. But a rogue locksmith will think of drilling the lock as a first choice.
Tell-Tale Signs of Rogue Locksmiths
Typically, the company will be listed towards the bottom of the list of online advertorials or have an extremely low ranking. This implies that there is a question mark on their quality of work. Such auto locksmiths are usually reluctant in providing recommendations and vague about giving feedback about their previous work experience or jobs.
Remember to ask the name of the auto locksmith who would be doing the work, whether he/she is a subcontractor and the person’s name and details, and who you are actually paying.
Where to Complain?
If you’re dissatisfied or feel that you have been cheated, you can complain to the Trading Standards or the MLA’s website. Always opt for an inspected, vetted, and qualified locksmith, approved by the MLA and acquire information on average prices charged for common jobs.
To avoid getting overcharged, check the prices on the MLA website. And when you search for an “auto locksmith near me”, be it for lost car keys or a replacement car key, look for a name that provides quality services for a variety of car brands. Check the reliability and rating (i.e., whether the auto locksmith company providing the service has a 5-star rating), and most importantly whether previous customers are recommending them based on their experience about the quality of work. After all, you do want a quality car lockout service but at the right cost.