Jacqueline Boyle has a story to tell about dealing with a disreputable locksmith. She recently left the house to take her children to dinner. When she got to the car, she realized she didn’t have her keys and the house was locked.
A friend went online and found a locksmith that offered 24/7 services and made house calls. Boyle was quoted a $19 service call and a ‘discount’. When the locksmith showed up in an unmarked van, he popped open her screen door, drilled the front door lock and used an inexpensive lock to replace it. He then presented her with a bill for $300 and told her he would not accept a credit card. He followed her to an ATM to collect the money.
“I felt I was being railroaded. Once he refused my card, I felt I had no choice,” said Boyle.
The president of the Northeast California Better Business Bureau, Gary Almond says, “It’s like drilling for dollars. They hold people hostage right at their door.”
There have been 65 complaints regarding locksmiths in the West Sacramento Better Business Bureau office in the past 3 years. This does not sound like a lot, but Almond says that often the complaints are under-reported because consumers don’t realize at first that they have been ripped off.
In California, there are 2900 licensed locksmiths. Unfortunately many of the people who are unethical are also unlicensed. To avoid being ripped off, the BBB recommends that consumers find a trustworthy locksmith before they need one.