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Dependable Lock / Overcharge for unlock of car!

1 United States Review updated:

My son locked his keys in the car before basketball practice. His dad and I were at a different location across town. We researched locksmiths. This particular company at [protected] claimed they could not give an estimate until arrival, due to possible car damage, which there was none or never had been, make, color, size of engine. I told them it was a 2000 Isuzu Rodeo. They absolutely would not quote me over the phone. They called my son's number to verify the reality. Upon arrival it took 1 minute to open the car. They charged him 150.00 and wanted it in cash. I called the company back and asked them what they would charge normally and the woman immediately replied, "150.00" I asked why she could now give an estimate when before she couldn't . I told her she ripped my son off. She said you are entitled to your opinion and I said you are right... and my opinion will cover a lot of ground to make sure others did not make the same mistake. I cannot even find this company under the BBB or in Consumer Reports. I hope others do not make the mistake of contacting Dependable Lock at [protected]. Ilad was the name of the man helping my son. Isn't that Ironic. Ilad. We are being infiltrated by aliens! And ripped off in the mean time!

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  • Le
      5th of Mar, 2007
    0 Votes

    CONTACT Tim@aola.org HE WILL HELP YOU HERE IS A PRESS RELEASE. HOW TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST "PHONY LOCKSMITHS"
    Below are links to various news outlets, consumer protection agencies and state Attorney General offices addressing the issue of "phony locksmiths". The story is familiar in many states: an out-of-state company hires a number of unscrupulous individuals in the area to sub-contract its work using assumed business names, fake addresses and phone numbers. Many times consumers have been over-sold, under serviced, or just plain lied to!

    The Illinois Attorney General filed criminal charges against a New York locksmith operation for setting up phony storefronts with unlicensed individuals practicing locksmithing that lead consumers to believe they were dealing with local companies. The action was successful, and the company was ordered to pay thousands in restitution, to cease operations and to no longer do business in the state under a new name or any of the 25 different names the company had been using in local telephone directories!

    ALOA encourages locksmiths who are facing this same situation to go to their state's Attorney General who can take the appropriate legal action against these fraudulent companies. ALOA recently sent a letter to all Attorneys General urging them to pursue this matter in their state. For a copy of that letter, Click Here . To contact your state's Attorney General, go to Click Here .

    ALOA is also empowering you to take immediate action when these fraudulent operations show up in your city. Click Here for a Press Release that you may send to your local print and broadcast news media outlets. Make sure you put in the date and the name of your city in the highlighted areas.

    For further assistance, contact ALOA Legislative Manager, Tim McMullen at 214-819-9733 x300 or tim@aloa.org

  • Le
      5th of Mar, 2007
    0 Votes

    Story Updated: Feb 20, 2007
    I-Team: Deceptive Locksmiths
    John Mercure
    Shady locksmiths continue to cheat desperate Milwaukee consumers. The I-Team tracks these guys down to their home base outside Wisconsin.

    The company claims to be local, but we discovered they operate out of New York. We traced the trail of deception and ripoffs a thousand miles from home.

    Complaints and lawsuits in several states tell the tale. People locked out of their homes and cars call for help. They're quoted one price over the phone, but after the work is done, they discover it costs much more than the quote. One customer was told the cost would be $55. When the guy showed up, she was hit up for $140.

    We decided to check it out. We locked ourselves out of a Milwaukee home and then called a "Local" locksmith-- Dependable Locks-- for help.

    Dependable showed up, took two minutes to open our door, and charged us more than we were quoted. Then they refused to answer our questions.

    "I'm an employee. The managers... You should talk to them," one guy told us.

    There was something else disturbing. Our locksmith never even bothered to make sure we lived in the house he just opened for us. In fact, we had permission to use a house. But it didn't belong to ANYONE there that day. We just borrowed it for the investigation.

    "This isn't even his house. You allowed one stranger to get in another stranger's house," we pointed out.

    The response? "Sometimes the guy moved in an apartment... I'm sorry. I have no comment for you. If you have something, go to the company."

    We did go the company. But this 'local' operation is nowhere near Milwaukee.

    "Our search brought us to New York... America's financial and cultural center. Its also the headquarters for Dependable Locks... A company ripping off people in Wisconsin and across America."

    Not far from midtown Manhattan... In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty... Dependable Locks does it's dirty business from this Bronx office building. We decided to pay the owners a visit.

    We were told to knock on a specfic door to talk to a manager.

    But no one ever answered. They then asked us to wait ouside. We did.

    No one ever came.

    But former employee Mekesia Brown says she was told to elude customers' questions. "They're making so much money and it seems they just don't care about what they do or how they do it," Brown told us. She used to work in the Bronx call center.

    We asked her, "Is it fair to say that there were policies in place for you guys to not be 100% honest... To be kind of vague... Kind of not on the level?"

    "Yes," she told us. "And it was joked about by the staff and the supervisors."

    Speaking of supervisors, affter 15 minutes we thought one had finally come out to talk to us.

    "I'm going to ask you to wait outside the parking lot," the man said. He refused to talk to us. He then told us yet another place to wait. We waited. For a long time. But managers at Bronx headquarters never came back to chat.

    Mekesia Brown remembers how her bosses told her to deal with Wisconsinites. "Some would be crying. Some would be really angry, agitated, and still, and get that information from them as fast as possible and not give them any information as much as we could," she recalls.

    And what about those fake Wisconsin addresses used by Dependable Locks? The address of a Waukesha gelato shop was listed in one ad.

    Brown explains how that worked. "If there was a really angry customer who wanted to know where our location was, we would pull up our GPS system," she admits. "We would give them a random address for a Taco Bell... or a parking lot."

    A shady business. A trail of lies and lawsuits. A former employee who wouldnt even call her old company for help...

    "If I was ever in a situation where i needed a locksmith... I would think twice. I would make sure to find out where that locksmith was. Because I hope to never deal with that company myself," Brown says.

    Dependable Locks has operations in several states. They are being investigated in almost all those... Including here in Wisconsin.

    The state of Illinois is suing them... And their license there has been suspended.

    The problem here: we license hairdressers...auctioneers... even bait shop owners. But not locksmiths.
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  • Le
      5th of Mar, 2007
    0 Votes

    PRESS RELEASE

    For Immediate Release

    December 4 , 2006

    Consumers Warned of Phony Locksmith Scam

    DALLAS, TX - Consumers in the (city) area are warned to beware of individuals posing as locksmith who perform unnecessary work or charge exorbitant un-locking fees. The Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc. (ALOA), an international association of locksmith and physical security professionals, recently issued an official warning for the (city) area.

    "This scheme entices locked-out consumers with large Yellow Pages ads that give the impression you are calling a local business," says ALOA's Executive Director, Charles W. Gibson, Jr., "These companies manipulate listings with multiple false addresses and phone numbers to make them seem like a neighborhood businesses. In actuality, the victims frequentlyy are calling out-of-state operations that are not locksmith companies at all. The consumer is quoted a reasonable price over the phone, but when a person posing as a locksmith finishes the job, the victim is charged a considerable amount more for unnecessary and sub-standard work."

    ALOA has created a checklist for detecting a company that may be engaging in this scheme. "Many of the items in this checklist are legal by themselves," adds Gibson. "However, if several are used together, you may be dealing with a con artist."

    1. Not Familiar with Your Area To make sure the company is local, make sure that they are familiar with your area of town.

    2. "Locksmith Service." Unscrupulous individuals often operate under many business names/aliases. Thus, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, "locksmith service." If the call is answered this way, ask, "What is the legal name of your business"

    3. ALOA Logo. Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a logo that makes them appear to belong to ALOA? While many locksmiths do belong to the Association, some unscrupulous individuals trick the consumer by falsely using the ALOA logo.You can always check to see if in fact these businesses are members by (800) 532-2562 or www.findalocksmith.com

    4. Unclear Business Name. Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a Web address is listed, does the name on the Web site match the name on the ad?

    5. "Under Same Ownership." This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, is often legally required to prevent a business from deceiving the public. The statement itself may be a warning sign that the company operates under several aliases.

    6. Service Vehicle. Some legitimate locksmiths will work out of a car or unmarked van for quick jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle � a van or truck that is clearly marked.

    7. Identity. A legitimate locksmith should ask for identity and some form of proof that you have the authority to allow the unlocking to be done. You have the right to ask for the locksmith's identification as well. Does he have a business card? Does he have an invoice or bill with the company name printed on it? Does it match the name on the service vehicle?

    8. Estimate. Find out what the work will cost before you authorize it. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.

    9. Invoice. Insist on an itemized invoice. You can't dispute a charge without proof of how much you paid and what the payment was for .

    10. Refuse. If you are not comfortable with the service provider, you can, and should, refuse to work with the locksmith.

    If you feel that you have been the victim a scheme as described above, ALOA recommends that you contact the office of the Attorney General in your state. Most Attorneys General have a division that specializes in fraudulent or deceptive business practices.You may find out how to contact your Attorney General at www.naag.org.

    Check for a valid state license number . The states that have licensing for locksmith services ( AL,CA, IL, LA, NJ, NC, OK, TN and TX ) may require the licensed locksmith company to include a state license number on their vehicles, advertising, and all paperwork. If your state requires licensing, then the technician must show you his/her identity card, which is a good indicator of legitimacy. These licensed locksmiths and their companies have been investigated by the state and found free of criminal activity in their past, and are required to have current valid liability insurance policies in force. States with a licensing law typically have a consumer protection hotline number to call and a mailing address for complaints to be sent to. Do not pay anyone that will not provide you with this information. If your state does not have a licensing law to protect you, ask your legislator for that protection. The Associated Locksmiths Of America (ALOA) supports state licensing for the purpose of protecting the consumer and can assist your legislator in drafting laws to protect consumers from phony locksmith scams.

    ###

    The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) is the world's largest organization for locksmiths and other physical security professionals. ALOA is dedicated to being the consumer's first line of defense in physical security by increasing the effectiveness and productivity of locksmiths through educational programs and materials that address broad security interests. ALOA's activities include the ALOA Continuing Education (ACE) program, the ALOA Annual Convention & Security Expo and the ALOA Training Center, which is based in Dallas, Texas. ALOA leads the way for advanced and improved security performance by providing members and the security community with access to a full range of educational programs and services.

  • Ml
      4th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    I was scammed by the same locksmith company in Maryland. Over the phone they said charges would be 50.00 then when the "locksmith" arrives who is a shady looking mexican in a bmw he says 150.00. I searched their corporate address on google:

    Dependable Locks, Inc.
    295 W. 231st.
    Bronx, NY 10463, and found a name and life insurance company:

    Hernandez Richard
    295 W 231ST St
    Bronx, NY 10463-3992 along with a phone number 718 543 5655, that is not in service. I don't believe their corporate office is real and I think these guys are scam artist that used to steal cars and probably still do that do this gig on the side. These people disgust me and need to be put out of business.

  • Ml
      4th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    Their phone number I used to get the lock smith is now out of order but their car thief locksmith's number still works, here it is: 703 731 5042. Feel free to call him and express your rage. He works for dependable locks.

  • Le
      11th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    You need to contact tim mcmullen at aloa. He can help. His email address is tim@aloa.org he is in charge of the phony locksmith reports. Please do not wait.

  • Le
      25th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    Drift Reality > Boston > USA Locksmith

    This letter describes an extremely negative experience a friend had with USA Locksmith:

    On Wednesday February 14, 2007 I locked myself out of my apartment in Boston, MA. After being locked out, I borrowed a friend’s phone and called the USA Locksmith Boston office to help me with my situation. When asked how much it would cost, the representative told me they were unable to provide me with a total estimate, but did state that there would be a minimum fee of $39.95, and that an additional fee for labor would be assessed. I was then told that a representative would be dispatched shortly.

    About 40 minutes later, the representative arrived at my apartment. After a brief inspection, the locksmith quoted me a price of $145.00, which would be assessed on top of the $39.95 base fee. As a single female with no personal contacts in the direct area, and with the work day almost completed, I felt compelled to agree to the fee. The locksmith promptly placed some sort of key into the keyhole on the door and tapped on it about ten times or so. After a few moments, he turned the key and opened the door.

    Shortly thereafter, the locksmith insisted that I pay him the full amount in cash. As a single female student living alone, I do not make it a practice of carrying very much cash with me at any given time. I asked if I could pay with a credit card or a check and was promptly told that I could only pay with cash. The locksmith asked to see my license. Upon turning my license over, the locksmith told me that he would hold onto it until I paid him the full amount he was owed in cash. I desperately searched for an ATM in the direct vicinity, withdrew the cash and gave it to him.

    I am writing this letter of complaint for the following three reasons:

    I feel that the refusal on the part of USA Locksmith to provide a cost estimate is a violation of my rights as a consumer. Additionally, the practice of providing a base fee of $39.95 and then an additional fee of $145.00 upon ‘inspection’, to a desperate consumer, is an unethical practice. Particularly when the total time require to open the lock was only a few minutes.

    Forcing a consumer to pay $185.00 in cash seems to be an unfair business practice. Particularly because later, when I called USA Locksmith, I was told that it was their policy to allow customers to pay with a credit card.

    Finally, The locksmith had absolutely no right to confiscate my drivers license and hold it hostage until I paid him $185 in cash. This was an act of intimidation, as well as illegal. When considering the fact that I am a relatively small single female (5’4), it is clear that this was his way of intimidating me into paying him in cash.

    I have suffered loss of money as well as psychological harm as a result of the acts of USA Locksmith and the contractor they dispatched to my residence. I fully intend to file a report with the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the Boston Attorney’s General Office; as well as pursue legal action.

    I would hope that others might learn from this experience and avoid doing business with USA Locksmith in the future.

  • Le
      27th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    HOW TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST "PHONY LOCKSMITHS"

    Below are links to various news outlets, consumer protection agencies and state Attorney General offices addressing the issue of "phony locksmiths". The story is familiar in many states: an out-of-state company hires a number of unscrupulous individuals in the area to sub-contract its work using assumed business names, fake addresses and phone numbers. Many times consumers have been over-sold, under serviced, or just plain lied to!

    The Illinois Attorney General filed criminal charges against a New York locksmith operation for setting up phony storefronts with unlicensed individuals practicing locksmithing that lead consumers to believe they were dealing with local companies. The action was successful, and the company was ordered to pay thousands in restitution, to cease operations and to no longer do business in the state under a new name or any of the 25 different names the company had been using in local telephone directories!

    ALOA encourages locksmiths who are facing this same situation to go to their state's Attorney General who can take the appropriate legal action against these fraudulent companies. ALOA recently sent a letter to all Attorneys General urging them to pursue this matter in their state. For a copy of that letter, Click Here . To contact your state's Attorney General, go to Click Here .

    ALOA is also empowering you to take immediate action when these fraudulent operations show up in your city. Click Here for a Press Release that you may send to your local print and broadcast news media outlets. Make sure you put in the date and the name of your city in the highlighted areas.

    For further assistance, contact ALOA Legislative Manager, Tim McMullen at 214-819-9733 x300 or tim@aloa.org

  • Le
      27th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    Scam Artists Pose As Locksmiths

    Joel Thomas
    Reporting

    (CBS 11 News) NORTH TEXAS "I saw the 'anytime, anywhere' and I needed them now," said Annette Bell of Haltom City as she looked at the torn page from the phone book.

    It read: 24-hour locksmith. Available within 15 minutes. And it seemed legitimate enough.

    Annette Bell needed someone in a hurry to replace the locks on a storage area someone had broken into. What she didn't need was a scam artist.

    Their ad looks legit, but investigators say its part of a large scam run out of New York.

    The person who responded to Bell's call was mangling her door handle as he told her his rates would be three times higher than he quoted.

    When Bell refused to pay he tried to barge his way inside the storage area where Bell stood.

    "I had my foot right here trying to keep him out or me in or something," said Bell as she placed her foot at the door's sill. "When he wouldn't leave after the third time I said, 'That's it. You're leaving.' And my heart was starting to race then. That's when I got mean back. I had to protect me."

    He finally left when she started dialing 9-1-1.

    In Dallas there was a very similar add but different phone numbers. This time the homeowners got a few improperly changed doorknobs and a bill for three-thousand dollars.

    The Department of Public Safety arrested one man apparantly running a similar scam. Like others in the larger operation, he has ties to the Middle East, in this case Israel.

    But investigators say the operation is so widespread as soon as one operative is taken off the streets another takes his place.

    "I've been in contact with approximately seven or eight other states who've been in contact with this same group of individuals," said Kent Paluga with the Texas D.P.S.

    Bell says other victims may not escape like she did.

    "They're going to get hurt or taken advantage of and that cannot happen. I'm not real big on people taking advantage of elderly people."

  • Le
      27th of Apr, 2007
    0 Votes

    HOW TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST "PHONY LOCKSMITHS"

    Below are links to various news outlets, consumer protection agencies and state Attorney General offices addressing the issue of "phony locksmiths". The story is familiar in many states: an out-of-state company hires a number of unscrupulous individuals in the area to sub-contract its work using assumed business names, fake addresses and phone numbers. Many times consumers have been over-sold, under serviced, or just plain lied to!

    The Illinois Attorney General filed criminal charges against a New York locksmith operation for setting up phony storefronts with unlicensed individuals practicing locksmithing that lead consumers to believe they were dealing with local companies. The action was successful, and the company was ordered to pay thousands in restitution, to cease operations and to no longer do business in the state under a new name or any of the 25 different names the company had been using in local telephone directories!

    ALOA encourages locksmiths who are facing this same situation to go to their state's Attorney General who can take the appropriate legal action against these fraudulent companies. ALOA recently sent a letter to all Attorneys General urging them to pursue this matter in their state. For a copy of that letter, Click Here . To contact your state's Attorney General, go to Click Here .

    ALOA is also empowering you to take immediate action when these fraudulent operations show up in your city. Click Here for a Press Release that you may send to your local print and broadcast news media outlets. Make sure you put in the date and the name of your city in the highlighted areas.

    For further assistance, contact ALOA Legislative Manager, Tim McMullen at 214-819-9733 x300 or tim@aloa.org

  • Le
      10th of Aug, 2007
    0 Votes

    BBB Warns About Locksmith Scams. Kay RobinsonYou may have been a victim and not even known it. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of untrustworthy locksmith companies that are ripping off consumers across the country.

    Victim complaints to the BBB reveal that several locksmith companies, all using similar methods, are significantly overcharging consumers, charging consumers for unnecessary services, using intimidation tactics and failing to give refunds or respond to consumer complaints.

    Ironically, these companies operate under names such as "Dependable Lock-smith" but in reality they exploit the vulnerable situation of consumers who are locked out of their house or car. We've found that some locksmiths have made taking advantage of consumers' misfortune part of their business model.

    Complaints about locksmith services to the 114 BBBs serving the United States increased almost 75 percent from 2005 to 2006, and have continued to come in steadily during the first half of this year.

    The BBB has identified Dependable Locksmith - which operates under more than a dozen different names - - as a particularly disreputable locksmith. This company poses as a local locksmith in cities across the country and advertises in the yellow pages using local phone numbers and fake local addresses. Consumers might think they're dealing with a local locksmith, but their phone call is actually connected to a call center located in the Bronx borough of New York City.

    Consumers are quoted a reasonable price over the phone but when the locksmith arrives - typically in an unmarked vehicle - he demands significantly more money than originally quoted, often only accepting cash.

    A complaint about Dependable Locksmith, which was operating under the name "Superb Solutions," alleges the company quoted fees of $39 and $84 for separate jobs, but the bill ended up at $471. It included add-on fees, such as a $65 breaking-in fee and a $58 fee to uninstall old locks.

    Another complainant reported that the locksmith sent to let her into her car demanded she pay twice the price quoted over the phone. The locksmith offered to drive her to an ATM to get cash. The victim, feeling unsafe, refused.

    The victim was ultimately forced to write a check made out personally to the locksmith as he would not let her into her car until she did so. She canceled payment on the check the next morning, but eventually filed a police report after the locksmith harassed her with continuous phone calls about payment.

    The BBB has also heard many complaints from victims who say they were charged for unnecessary services. For example, complainants suspect locksmiths sent over by Dependable Locksmiths of pretending they couldn't simply pick the lock so that they could charge more and install all new locks in homes.

    Some of Dependable Locksmith's aliases include Superb Solutions, Locksmith 24 Hour, Inc., USA Total Security, Priceline Locksmith and S.O.S. Locksmith.

    Two other locksmith contractors fleecing consumers are Basad Inc. - which operates under more than 50 names nationwide, such as A-1 Locksmith Service, A-1 24 Hour Locksmith, A-1 Lock & Key Locksmith and AAA Locksmith 24 Hour - and Liberty Locksmith.

    Similar to Dependable Locksmith, they pose as local locksmiths and run full-page Yellow Pages ads with multiple phone and address listings. The phone numbers appear to be local, but connect to national call centers such as Liberty's in New York City, while the addresses end up belonging to other established businesses in the local area, or are simply non-existent.

    Like others, Liberty Locksmith and Basad Inc. use common cons such as quoting one price over the phone but charging significantly more at the site.

    These companies are very good at posing as trustworthy locksmiths. Before you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being locked out of your car or house, do your research and find a truly dependable locksmith in your area. Ask around and always check with the BBB first to find reputable businesses.

    If you feel you've been taken advantage of by Dependable Locksmith, Liberty Locksmith, Basad Inc. or others, please contact the BBB to file a complaint, or do so online at www.bbb.org.


    Kay Robinson is president of the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas, serving 19 East Texas counties. To contact the BBB in Tyler, call 903-581-5704, and in Longview, call 903-757-3611 or 800-443-0131, or visit the Web site at www.easttexas.bbb.org. The organization can be e-mailed at info@tyler.bbb.org.

  • Le
      7th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    Locks myth
    Not all locksmiths are on the up and up. Before you pick a person to help you in a pinch, read this.
    BY DEBRA O'CONNOR
    Pioneer Press
    TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press
    Article Last Updated:08/20/2007 12:07:56 PM CDT

    When Kelly Wilhelm's daughter locked the keys in her car, Wilhelm scanned the phone directory and called 24 Hour A Locksmith, which listed an address of 2120 Williams Drive in Burnsville. An hour and a half later, a man in a beat-up car arrived and poked at the lock with a wire that Wilhelm says looked like a coat hanger. After he got the door opened, he charged her $160 - the going rate for this service is about one-third of that - and said he wanted it in cash. She didn't have that much on hand, so he told her to drive to an ATM and that he'd follow her.

    "He just looked like a shady character, and I was by myself," she told the Watchdog. "That's why he ended up ripping me off, because I was afraid."

    The name on the handwritten invoice was "Ocean," different than the name she'd called, and the phone number was from Florida. That local address? It didn't exist - so the complaint letter the Better Business Bureau sent came right back. When the Watchdog called the Florida number, which identified itself as 24-7 Locksmiths, the customer service manager said: "I'm not going to provide any information to anyone representing herself as a reporter."

    The Better Business Bureau recently issued a nationwide warning after several people complained about being overcharged and intimidated by unscrupulous locksmith companies. These outfits take advantage of people locked out of their cars and homes, a situation in which they're vulnerable and likely unfamiliar with the names listed in the phone book.

    In 2005, the BBB received 247 complaints about locksmiths; last year, there were 427. In Minnesota, there were three complaints in 2005, eight in 2006, and 17 so far this year.

    The complaints include deliberately ruining locks, or deeming them unpickable, then charging customers to put in new ones. And there's the fear that the locksmiths may keep an extra key when locks are installed.

    One company with a bad reputation is Dependable Locksmith, which is headquartered in the Bronx but has several outposts in the Twin Cities, including All Ready, 24 Hour A1 Locksmiths, 24 Hour Locksmiths and AAA Emergency System. Customers may think they're choosing from among competing companies, but all those different local phone numbers go directly to the same New York operator. Dependable was sued by the Ohio attorney general for false advertising, unauthorized repairs and consumer protection law violations, and fined in Chicago for operating and advertising under 17 business names with false addresses.

    Is what they do against the law?

    "If you're misrepresenting your actual geographic location, that's wrong, and that's illegal," said Lisa Jemtrud, trade practices manager at the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota.

    Brian Busch at first was told over the phone by Always Ready (a company supposedly located in Minne-apolis but linked to Dependable, it has two full-page ads in one phone book) the charge would be $55 maximum. After the car was unlocked within a few minutes, Busch was asked for $141. When he objected, it was lowered to $104.

    Busch said he later called a toll-free customer-service number to complain, but they gave him "a song and dance." A call to Dependable by the Watchdog was not returned.

    "It was covered by insurance, but the thing is, it's a rip-off," Busch said. "I think it's just highway robbery." Editor's note: Feel like an underdog because of a problem with a business, government agency or school? Maybe the Pioneer Press Watchdog can help. Call 651-228-5419 or send an e-mail.

    THE KEYS TO A RELIABLE LOCKSMITH.

    Here are the keys to picking a reliable locksmith instead of an unscrupulous one, according to the Better Business Bureau:

    Listen to how your phone call is answered. If, instead of the name in the phone book, it's something vague, like "locksmith services," that may mean the company's not really local, even with a local address and phone number. The company may be operating under a variety of names.

    Get a very specific estimate over the phone. For example, ask how much it will cost if the locksmith is able to get into your car or house within 10 minutes. Ask for the additional cost of a "worst-case scenario." And ask what forms of payment the company takes.

    Check with the Better Business Bureau for a report on the company. It takes only a few minutes at 651-699-1111 or www.mnd.bbb.org. That will tell you if there have been unresolved complaints. In addition, you can ask for locksmiths that are BBB members, which means they've passed standards set by the BBB.

    The following locksmiths are BBB members: A-1 Lock Service by Kee-Wee, St. Paul; All City Lock & Key, Minneapolis; Blaine Lock & Safe, Blaine; Blaine Security Locksmith, Blaine; CK Locksmith, St. Paul; Dale Lock & Safe, Minneapolis; Dale Schaar's Lock & Safe Service Co., Minneapolis; Dale's Lock & Safe Service Co., Minneapolis; Lockguard Inc., Minnetonka; Moseng Locksmith Co., Hastings; Registered Locksmiths, Minneapolis; Speedy Keys, Minneapolis.

    When the locksmith comes, confirm the pricing and the payment method before the lock is worked on.

    Ask for proof the locksmith is insured and bonded. Some states require locksmiths to be licensed, but Minnesota and Wisconsin do not.

    Be skeptical if the locksmith immediately tells you he has to drill and replace the lock; in reality, that's a rarity.

    Get an itemized invoice.

  • Le
      13th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    September 13, 2007- Pasco, WashingtonNews
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    Locksmith scam makes a bad day even worse
    Read more of KATU's 2 On Your Side stories
    Story Published: Sep 11, 2007 at 2:16 PM PDT
    By Shellie Bailey-Shah and KATU Web Staff
    Video PORTLAND, Ore. - When most of us need a locksmith we open the phone book or look one up on the Internet and dial, but when you do that, are you opening yourself up to being scammed?

    For Claudine Werner, it seemed simple enough to go to the Internet and find a local locksmith to change the locks on her new condo.

    "I called the number and asked 'are you in Tigard?' and she said yes," Werner said.

    Only later would she find out the locksmith was not actually local. She had actually called a dispatcher, possibly located in Arizona, who sent out a technician here in Portland.

    When the locksmith arrived, Werner was suspicious. His vehicle was not marked, he did not have a uniform and when it came time to pay, he wanted the check made out to him - $165, much more than she had expected to pay.

    It was not until she tried to get her key duplicated that she realized the locksmith had put her home at risk.

    Brent Hansen, a reputable locksmith showed KATU News what Werner could not see - not only had she not been given the two original keys for the lock, the lock itself had been set to accept a master key.

    "A stranger could have a key to my home," she said.



    When KATU News tried to get in contact with the locksmith Werner had hired, Aviram Adi, we were told the man never worked for the company, Complete Locksmith. A week later, we tried again and were told this time that the man was on a long vacation.



    The more questions we asked, the more the story changed. Eventually, we talk to a manager, who refused to give his full name, but said the man must have made a mistake.

    "This is something that's been widespread across the U.S.," said Les Harvey with Pacific Locksmith Association. "It's really dangerous because you don't know who you're giving your key to or who is working on your safe."

    This is what you need to know if you are hiring a locksmith:

    Do not rely on the phone book or the Internet to find a local company - physically verify that the store really exists.
    Check the locksmith's license number with the Oregon Construction Contractor's Board. Any locksmith who is doing work on your house is required to have one.
    Keep the name and phone number of a reputable locksmith in your wallet in case you lock your keys in your car. That way, you are not relying on directory assistance to find a locksmith in an emergency.

  • Le
      24th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    Some Locksmiths Cost Customers More Than They Bargained ForProblems Reported By Consumers Across the Country
    By Ric Romero
    Sept. 20, 2007 (KABC-TV) - The Better Business Bureau has received over a thousand complaints about unscrupulous locksmiths that have customers paying a lot more than they bargained for.

    Related Links
    LINK: Recommended Locksmiths (www.findalocksmith.com)
    It's happened to many of us at one time or another, getting locked out of your car or home. While there's no doubt most locksmiths are reputable and provide the rescue you need, there are several companies that really only want your money.

    When you're locked out of your car or house, you rush to hire a locksmith, and the majority of time you will get a reputable worker at your door, but that's not always the case.

    "We're hearing from consumers across the country who have been swindled by unethical locksmiths," Alison Preszler, of the Better Business Bureau, said.

    The Better Business Bureau says they've received more than a thousand complaints, most over the past year or so, about companies that have legitimate sounding names but use local phone numbers with fake addresses. And when you dial, you're transferred to a call center that could be thousands of miles away.

    "They're not forthcoming at all about where they're located," Preszler said.

    So they quote you a price and dispatch one of their representatives in your area.

    "They're very unprofessional. He demands two, three, even four times the amount quoted over the phone and he's not going to let you into your house or car until he gets it," Preszler said.

    "That's what made me angry," Carol Pintar said.

    Pintar got locked out of her car while it was running. She was quoted $55 but that didn't get her back behind the wheel.

    "He said, 'Oh, no. That $55 is just for me coming here. You owe me another $95,'" Pintar said.

    But she only had $40 extra, which he took.

    "He opened my door in about two seconds. I knew I was taken to the cleaners. And I thought, 'Oh, man. If they're doing this to me, they're doing this all over,'" Pintar said.

    The locksmith industry is aware of these questionable companies and says people being overcharged isn't the only problem.

    "They may tell the consumer that they need new locks and that they're prepared to put in some high security locks in for them and they turn around and put in substandard locks," Tim McMullen, of Locksmiths of America, said.

    "It's an epidemic. Out of all industries, the locksmith industry should be the one that a consumer knows that they can call and they're going to have somebody that's going to be honest, trustworthy," Jason Gage, a locksmith, said.

    So, how can you make sure the locksmith you're hiring is trustworthy? The Better Business Bureau says be wary of servicemen in unmarked cars, who don't wear uniforms or present identification.

    "The Better Business Bureau recommends that you do your research ahead of time and find a reputable locksmith before you find yourself in an emergency," Preszler said.

    If you're looking for a locksmith, the Associated Locksmiths of America says it can make recommendations for a reputable company in your neighborhood.

    Copyright © 2007 KABC-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

  • Ro
      28th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    I got locked out and only had my cell phone to ask directory assistance for a locksmith in my area -- they gave me Dependable Lock with a phone number of (818) 428-7449. I waited 1/2 hour even though the person told me he would be there in 20 minutes. He never gave me his name. I had a bad feeling about his voice so after waiting for almost an hour I told him I would have to cancel his call and call another locksmith. He said he was around the corner - which he was. Then, in the nick of time a Sanders Lock and Key came around the corner for another condo two doors down from me. So I told Sanders to give me a quote. For two locks he quoted me only $77.00 to which I agreed.

    Dependable Lock - and the guy NEVER presented me with a business card -- turned my door knob and said "$39.95 for the call, and $55 for each lock,,,I said, no way,,,I'll have Sanders to it.

    He got angry and said -- You need to pay for my service call - I SAID TO HELL I WILL -- yOU ARE only giving me a quote -- I never gave you the go-ahead to start service. He says -- I'm calling the Sheriff's dept.! I said, go ahead, they won't do anything but get aggravated because you called them out for nothing. Even the Sanders guy agreed with me.

    He got angrier and stayed behind my garage in his UNMARKED VAN with no company name or logo. I had the SANDERS man call the police because he would not leave. After 5 minutes the Dependable guy (Arab) had some other party call me on my cell phone with a Florida number of (727) 464-9000, which I did not answer.

    The police came and told the guy he has to leave. WELL,,,,I felt this guy was out of control and would somehow retaliate -- YES< HE DID,,,

    the very next day I had white graffiti all over my carport with Arab symbols,,,,I am now filing a police report and printing an entire report of this case against Dependable.

    Thank God I did not let this man into my house. Thank God for Sanders Lock and Key. They came to the rescue. And Thank God for my instincts and gut feelings -- Always go with your gut feelings !!!

  • Le
      30th of Sep, 2007
    0 Votes

    By Shelley Shelton, Arizona Daily Star
    Azstarnet.com
    09.30.2007

    Tucson, AZ - A national trend in shady locksmithing has hit home, leaving Tucson's legitimate locksmiths looking for ways to combat the problem and stay in business. The trend hits consumers in a particularly vulnerable spot — the locks that help keep them and their valuables safe.

    The new Dex phone book contains several locksmith listings for companies with different names that each have 24 different phone numbers and 10 different addresses. The phone numbers and addresses for each of the businesses are exact duplicates of those listed for the other businesses.

    There is no building at the sites of at least four of the 10 addresses listed for A O A Locksmith, which also goes by the names A 01 Locksmith, Absolute Locksmith and several others scattered throughout the white business pages of the phone book.

    "It's a very bad business practice. It's giving a lot of us a bad name," said Justin Ashler, an employee of Al's Locksmith and Security Hardware Inc. Ashler has been working to organize longtime Tucson locksmiths, who met last week to discuss the newcomers. Al's is getting daily reports of people being ripped off, he said.

    Such reports include people being overcharged for small jobs and people who pay a 400 percent to 700 percent markup for parts, he said. Shady locksmiths have also been showing up at jobs for which they weren't hired and pretending to be the company that was hired, again overcharging in the process, Ashler said.

    Meanwhile, "my phone has pretty much stopped ringing for any weekday calls," so they're definitely hurting business, he said.

    The phenomenon apparently is not limited to Tucson. The September issue of Keynotes, a monthly magazine published by the Associated Locksmiths of America, has a two-page article about it.

    "In 2007, we are faced with an epidemic that our industry has not seen before," writes author Jason Gage. "It is the epidemic of the locksmith scammers, aka Locksmith mafia, aka Locksmith Gypsies, aka Fraud smiths, or whatever else your state may categorize them under."

    The scammers purchase hundreds of phone numbers in a single local area, often buying the numbers from the main local phone provider through the scammer's own phone companies, Gage writes.

    "When these numbers are advertised, it is not uncommon to find a false address and a false business name attached to them. This is done to give the customer a nice warm feeling that they are calling a local company that may be close to them," he writes. No business licenses.

    A O A Locksmith, A 01 Locksmith and Absolute Locksmith do not have city of Tucson business licenses. These three companies share addresses and telephone numbers with each other and with several other companies listed in the new phone book.

    The companies would definitely need licenses to do business within the city limits, said Beverly Moe, financial services supervisor in the city licensing section. Even if they provide only a service and don't sell anything for which they would collect sales tax, they would still need a non-tax license, she said.
    By contrast, Al's Locksmith, AAA Lock and Key and A&Z Safe Lock and Key — three of Tucson's established locksmiths with names found in the same part of the phone listings — all have business licenses.

    A O A, A 01 and Absolute are all registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission as "doing business as" names for an organization called Complete Services LLC, based in Tempe. Daniel Montalvo, who is listed as the company's statutory agent on commission paperwork filed in January 2006, said he's an accountant who set up the corporation and did one year's tax returns for it, but he said he hasn't done anything since then for the company.

    A phone book listing yielded a phone number that is not in service for Yigal Lampert, who is listed on corporate paperwork as a corporation member and whose address is the same as the corporate address. Calls Friday to two phone numbers listed for the Complete Services companies themselves routed into the same call center. One operator said the company management doesn't like to talk to reporters, and the second operator said the managers would be gone all day.

    That operator also was unsure what phone number he had answered because the company has many numbers, he said. Neither person gave his name, each saying he just answers the phone. Wouldn't give full name.

    Later Friday a man who said he is a manager for Complete Services called but would not give his full name. He said it has nothing to do with the company and that for personal privacy reasons he does not want his name in the paper.

    He said the company is based in Phoenix and began servicing the Tucson area about a month ago. When questioned about the nonexistent addresses, he said the addresses are listed only to show callers that the company provides service in those areas and it is not intended for customers to go to the company locations.

    He said the company now has one contractor who does the locksmith work and that there were problems with a previous contractor until about two weeks ago, when that person was replaced. But that story doesn't jibe with what local locksmiths are seeing and hearing. Jon L. Hoyt, owner of AAA Lock and Key, is feeling particularly victimized because so many of the phone book listings are similar in name to his own company, he said.

    And every day, Hoyt said, he gets calls from people who are upset with locksmiths supposedly from his company, but once he gets a vehicle description or license plate number, he finds that it wasn't one of his people after all. He's seen a "drastic dip" in service calls in the time since the new phone book was issued, he said.

    "There's no scruples and there's no integrity," he said.

    The locksmiths who met last week are gathering again this week and hope to arm themselves with enough information to get the Arizona attorney general to investigate, Ashler said.

    "All we can do is make as much noise as possible," he said.

  • Ma
      22nd of Oct, 2007
    0 Votes

    Saturday morning my 78 year old dad was experiencing severe pain in his back and called paramedics. they took him to the V.A. emergency room, locking the door as they left. Dad was in his pajamas and had no house key. He is a 100% disabled vet and the V.A. took care of him. I met him at the emergency room and we took a cab back out to his house. I called a locksmith from the V.A. Yellow Pages at random. It was Dependable Locks, northwest Tucson, Arizona.

    The guy kept us waiting at the house over an hour, though the ad said 15 minutes. when he tried to open the simple lock on the door he couldn't do it. He spoke English poorly and when he said $39 to show up and $90 to open the door, i said 90$??? I was calling off the whole thing when he said "no $19" i made sure of what he said, "19 dollars?" he said yes, 19. I figured 60 bucks wasn't too bad and we certainly didn't feel like waiting for another locksmith. He got my senile dad to sign a receipt saying 90 rather than 19. I should have looked but he was a nice, clean cut Israeli kid in his 20s. America as a whole trusts Israel for security, who am I to do less?

    Long story short, the bill came to $175. Could not get in touch with the company by phone, no answer. A little after 5pm. had to wait till Monday morning to make any calls. the sheriff and police don't care about anything but drugs I guess, that's where THEIR money is. Finally, I found a group of local locksmiths who are bringing a case with the Attorney General against these scam locksmiths. They go by Dependable Locks or they may steal some legitimate companies name. This stuff has been going on here in Tucson for well over a year. The "authorities" will do nothing. I'm doing what I can to help in the case being taken to the state Attorney General.

    We paid the guy and that money is gone. I hope alert others to this situation.

  • Le
      21st of Nov, 2007
    0 Votes

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    CONSUMER ALERT: San Diego Hit by Locksmith Scam



    SAN DIEGO, Calif., Nov. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- San Diego has become the
    latest city targeted by renegade locksmiths according to Glenn Younger of
    Grah Safe and Lock. The San Diego Police Department has investigated at
    least one case where a downtown resident had property stolen. In that case
    the locksmith changed the locks on a high-rise downtown condo then went
    back the next day and burglarized the same place.

    The scam works like this: Hundreds of phone numbers are acquired by
    out-of-state companies using false addresses. Those numbers are then listed
    in the local Yellow pages and online for consumers. The problem is a vast
    majority of these locksmiths don't have:


    -- The required California State Locksmith Licenses
    -- The required California State Contractors License
    -- A local business license
    -- A State of California tax ID number

    Although there are only 25 or so licensed and registered locksmiths in
    San Diego County, there are over 800 listed in the Yellow and White pages
    or on the internet.

    Sheryl Bilbrey of the San Diego BBB says "Of course these companies
    operate under names like 'Dependable Locksmith' in order to exploit the
    vulnerable situation for consumers who are locked out of their house or
    car." Bilbrey went on to say "We've found that some locksmiths have made
    taking advantage of people's misfortune part of their business model."

    Glenn Younger of Grah Safe and Lock says "We believe that this poses a
    real threat to consumer and business security by sending unlicensed,
    unregistered, and often unqualified locksmiths with unknown criminal pasts
    to work on the primary access control of homes and businesses in our
    community."

    For tips on how to find a reputable locksmith and what questions
    consumers should ask a locksmith before hiring one, the media can contact
    Glenn Younger of Grah Safe and Lock at (619) 234-4829. The company has been
    helping San Diegans be safe and secure and successful since 1914.

    If you have specific questions directly relating to the investigation
    by the San Diego Police Department, please contact them at (619) 531-2000.




    SOURCE Grah Safe and Lock

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  • Le
      18th of Jan, 2008
    0 Votes

    January 17,2008
    Avoiding A Locksmith Rip-Off
    Reporting
    Susan Barnett PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ― Have you ever locked yourself out of your home or car? You might call a locksmith to help, but it could cost you a lot more than you expect. As CBS 3's Susan Barnett reports, there's a common scam that's on the rise.

    Getting locked out is not only nerve-wracking, it can be expensive.

    Carol Pintar knows. She got locked out of her car while it was running. A locksmith quoted her a fee of $55, but that didn't get her back behind the wheel.

    "He said, 'Oh, no. That 55 dollars is just for me coming here. You owe me another 95 dollars,'" said Pintar.

    Carol only had forty extra dollars, which he took.

    "We're hearing from consumers across the country who have been swindled by unethical locksmiths," said Alison Preszler of the Better Business Bureau.

    Some locksmiths sound legit and use local numbers and addresses.

    But the Better Business Bureau says, when you dial, you're transferred to a call center that could be thousands of miles away.

    "They're not forthcoming at all about where they're located," said Preszler.

    We checked on the addresses of five locksmiths in our area listed in the Yellow Pages. We found all of the addresses, but none of the locksmiths. One location turned out to be an Olive Garden in Cherry Hill.

    We called a Pennsauken locksmith with an odd name: A 1 2 3 24 Hour A Locks and Lock. An operator quoted us a $39 service fee and $15 to get back into a locked car. But when the locksmith arrived, he quoted our undercover producer something else.

    "Ok, for this car, it's $39, another $110 to get back in the car," said the locksmith.

    Then he reduced it to a flat $100.

    "Usually only cash," said the locksmith.

    "Only cash?" our producer asked. "What if I don't have a hundred bucks on me?"

    When he saw our camera, he told us to call the office. We asked to see his locksmith license.

    "Okay, I don't know anything about this, I only work in the office, okay," he said.

    He's really with Dependable Locks, based in New York City. Dependable has a history of complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

    So what can you do? Do your research and find a reputable, local locksmith before an emergency.

    And Andy Good of the Philadelphia BBB said, "If it's a locksmith and it has the word 'solutions' in its name, 'A 1 24 Hour Service,' some derivative of that, give the BBB a call. Find out if there's a local experience with that locksmith."

    We called Dependable Locks, but no one returned our calls.

    The BBB also says be wary of servicemen in unmarked cars, without uniforms or ID. New Jersey requires locksmiths to have a license, so ask to see it.

  • Le
      6th of Feb, 2008
    0 Votes

    Undercover Locksmith Investigation

    Last Update: 8:05 pm

    Reported by: John Matarese

    It's happened to almost all of us: You lock yourself out of your home, car, or apartment. Your only hope: A locksmith.

    But the Better Business Bureau has a warning about an emergency locksmith company that it says could cost you a lot more than you bargained for.

    The Common Complaint

    You know the feeling: You lock your car door...Then realize your your keys are inside. That's exactly what happened to Heather Slavey of Florence, Ky.

    But this mom had to do something...So she grabbed the Yellow Pages, and called a locksmith with a big ad and local number called "Always Ready."

    It promised 15 minute service, 24 hours a day, at a good price.

    The Escalating $39 Charge

    "They quoted me over the phone 39 dollars," she explains.

    But Heather's receipt tells another story. She says "when they got there, they had an additional charge of $110."

    The total charge, which she had to pay on the spot: $149...a far cry from $39.

    She was furious, telling me "I feel like they were misleading and deceptive!"
    In addition, her receipt shows that "Always Ready" was really a company called "Dependable Locksmith" out of the Bronx, New York!

    What the BBB Files Say

    The Better Business Bureau says Heather's experience is common. It's issued a warning about what it calls a -- quote -- "Nationwide locksmith swindle" involving "Dependable Locksmith."

    The BBB says"Dependable" --which it says uses more than a dozen names -- has an "unsatisfactory" record with 217 recent complaints.

    But was Heather's inflated bill a fluke? We decided to test them.
    We go Undercover

    We asked a newsroom producer --Suzanne -- to call "Always Ready"... after we locked her out of a Chevy Blazer in a public parking lot.

    The phone rep quoted her $39: Sound familiar?
    As we rolled our hidden camera...a man in an unmarked SUV soon pulled up. But he had some bad news : It would cost her another 110 dollars.

    At this point, however, who's going to call another locksmith? So Suzanne allowed him to grab his tools, at which point he popped the door, and gave Suzanne a "high five."

    But she wasn't high fiving. As the receipt showed, he billed her $149 dollars...not the $39 originally quoted.

    What did he say when we confronted him with our camera? He jumped in his SUV and peeled out of the parking lot.

    Back in the newsroom, I called "Dependable" for their side of the story. I left two messages with phone reps. Neither was returned...Nor is an e-mail I sent to their website.

    What You Can Do

    So don't let this happen to you:
    When calling a locksmith, look for an ad with a local address.
    Ask where their office is located.
    Finally, ask if there may be extra charges....so you don't end up with a bill you can't afford.
    The Latest

    Meantime, the arm of the law is starting to notice.

    The state of Illinois has pulled "Dependable's" license to practice in that state.
    And former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed suit against a Cleveland area locksmith called "Superb Solutions' ....that the BBB report says was just another name for "Dependable Locksmith" out of New York. That case is still pending.

    So ask questions and Don't Waste your Money. I'm John Matarese.

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