Dependable Locks is under indictment and banned from doing business in multiple states. They are the same company as Priceline Locksmith and Superb Solutions Locksmith (Google 'em).
You don't mention what state you're in. That would be hugely helpful in telling you whether you have a case or not. If you are in any of the states that require locksmith licensing, then yes, you have a case. The others are more vague. Some of the states that require licenses are California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Texas, North Carolina, etc. Most other states have licensing laws in the works, and there may very well be a National licensing law here coming up soon...
In certain states, such as California, it is actually against the law for a consumer to hire an unlicensed contractor of any kind, including locksmiths. So while you have a case against Dependable, you're up against a Catch-22 as you would have to admit hiring an unlicensed locksmith. And unfortunately, as in the IRS, ignorance of the law is no excuse. It's simply far too easy to look up whether a business in your state requires licensing or not, and to request verification of that info on arrival.
Regardless of the above, to any folks in any of the states that require licensing for locksmiths, remember, if you are quoted a total, and they try to up charge you, or claim the lock "cannot be picked" (there are rarely any locks other than Medeco that cannot be picked by a competent locksmith), and must be drilled, then they are frauds. If you are in these states, under NO circumstances are you required to pay for even the service call, let alone any other portion of anything they did. They are not legally licensed to perform the work, therefore they cannot charge for it.
If they get threatening or intimidating, call the police. Period. Inform them you will be doing so and they will leave. Many are illegal immigrants, or school (not work) visa'd Israeli's. Not all, but many. Absolutely NONE of them are locksmiths. And NONE of them want to be caught at the scene of what is in it's very essence, a breaking and entering.
for more information, links, etc.
p.s. If you choose to e-mail me, you will be required to reply to a "human checker" verification e-mail before I see it. This is due to over 2000 (Yes, thousand) spams per day. I apologize for the inconvenience. :)
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 email@example.com
"PHONY LOCKSMITHS" PRESS ROOM
(Click on headline to be taken directly to the story)
• Investigators Open Up Alleged Locksmith Scam ( WCAU-TV Philadelphia 01/10/07))
• Locksmith overcharged her, woman alleges (Boston Townonline 12/28/06)
• N.Y. locksmith firm fined -- city says scams continue (Chicago Sun Times 11/19/06)
• Deceptive Locksmith Investigation (Today's TMJ Channel 4 Milwaukee, WI 11/29/06)
• Watch the Channel 4 investigative report video!
• Lock Crock - Hank Phillippi Ryan Investigates (WHDH-TV Boston 11/06/06)
• Mistrial in locksmith fraud case after 'attack' on judge (Chicago Sun Times 10/31/06)
• Blagojevich Administration Suspends License of Dependable Locks for False License Information (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation 9/25/06)
• Locksmith Cited in San Francisco Sting (Bay City Newswire 09/07/06)
• Sting Nabs Unlicensed Locksmiths Working in the Bay Area (California Department of Consumer Affairs 09/07/06)
• Suspended Locksmith at Work? (Chicago Sun-Times 09/04/06)
• State suspends locksmith's license (Chicago Sun-Times 09/01/06)
• Price Line Locksmith License Suspended (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation 08/31/06)
• Valley woman locks horns with locksmith company (KVTV Channel 3 - Phoenix, AZ 08/21/06)
• Watch the Channel 3 investigative report video!
• Locksmith Investigation (Today's TMJ Channel 4 Milwaukee, WI 08/15/06)
• Watch the Channel 4 investigative report video!
• Locksmith Consumer Alert (KGO TV Channel 7 - San Francisco 08/12/06)
• Restoring honesty to his trade is key, locksmith says (Detroit Free Press 07/02/06)
• Petro Sues 'Locksmith' For Cheating Stranded Cleveland Consumers (Ohio Attorney General Press Release 06/28/06)
• Locksmith Pleads Guilty of Fraud (Chicago Sun-Times 04/05/06)
• City sues N.Y. locksmith accused of price-gouging (Chicago Sun-Times 03/16/06)
• Locksmith Again Found Liable for Fraudulent Practices (Chicago Department of Consumer Services 02/28/06)
• ### Alert (Cleveland Scene Letters to the Editor 01/18/06)
• Gypsies, Tramps, & Thieves (Cleveland Scene 01/11/06)
• Madigan Seeks to Close Door on Phony Storefront Locksmiths (Illinois Attorney General Press Release 12/21/05)
• Local listing in directory doesn't mean biz is there (New York Daily News 10/21/05)
• Scammer Locksmith Alert (KPNX Channel 12 - Phoenix, AZ)
• City threatens to throw away key on locksmith (Chicago Sun-Times 08/27/05)
• Out-of-state locksmiths picking on locals (Chicago Sun-Times 08/01/05)
• Chicago Department of Consumer Services Offers Tips for Hiring a Locksmith (09/09/05)
• Locksmith Found Liable for Fraudulent Practices (Chicago Department of Consumer Services 09/01/05)
• Unlicensed Locksmiths Strike Again (KRON Channel 4 - San Francisco 08/25/05)
• State Investigates Renegade Locksmiths (KRON Channel 4 - San Francisco 08/19/05)
• Consumer Alert: Unlicensed Locksmiths Strike in San Francisco (California Department of Consumer Affairs 08/12/05)
Aloa and Reasonable Locksmithing are fighting against phony locksmiths.here is is the link.http://www.aloa.org/pressroom.html
Go also on google or msn and type in phony locksmiths. You will see television and news paper reports and more.on most all the phony locksmiths and who to contact.i think this will help you alot. And make sure to contact aloa at aloa.org and tim mcmullen at firstname.lastname@example.org
After reading the entire post, I can't help but notice that no description of just what type or brand of hardware that may have needed to be drilled. Secondly, There was no mention of the time of day or evening the service was requested or the man-hours to accomplish the entire work.
Service Call $55.55 - FAIR RATE
Breaking In (Drill) $85.85 - Depending on hardware or other conditions.....Could be fair
Uninstall Old Lock $15.15 - Fair Depending on Demographics & Hardware
B-Level Door Knob $55.55 - Priced Accordingly to a Grade 2
New Lock Installation $15.15 - Fair Depending on Demographics & Hardware
Cash + Late Discount -$25 - Reasonable offer
Total $200 - Not unreasonable, not knowing the entire circumstances as expressed
The danger of all this is that every example of any service provided by any service provider may now be considered UNFAIR according to what the consumer assumes as unreasonable, even if the charge is $1.
All the headhunting that is going on to address the legitimate fraud unfortunately will ultimately result in such a reaction in my opinion. This is not to say that there is not a problem with those who clearly are victimized by being charged extreme rates without justification.
However in this situation I think I may have to respectfully disagree with the belief that something was wrong. As stated, "In fairness", the person complaining also stated that she was quoted $120 - $150 for service from other locksmith who did not respond and had no insight into what the condition of the hardware was or what it was....because they ball parked a price over the telephone. This service provider even went so far as to assess the situation (as stated) then provide the costs. All proper protocol.
Advertising that you will beat others prices is based on a "reasonable & responsible" comparison by the competitor. Since no other service was actually there to offer an adequate alternative or written estimate....one cannot say that they did anything contrary to their advertisement.
Sorry, that’s how I am reading all this. But as always and respectfully....I am open for debate and re-consideration.
For further information regarding this topic which is being referred to as the GAZA PROJECT can be found in podcasted interviews on www.LockRadio.com. You can listen to those investigating the situation, a victim and an Isreali locksmith who knows who & what is going on and has voiced his displeasure.
Spend more time focusing on the Yellow Page companies who are responsible for the "allowance" of the fraudulent advertising which leads the consumer to these scams. They know all about whats going on but refuse to stop it. DO NOT USE THE YELLOW PAGES OR THE INTERNET YELLOW PAGES.
It's time for a CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT.
www.LockRadio.com - Download Section - Interviews
This website is about the business practices and locksmith services being offered under the following business names:
ALWAYS READY LOCKSMITH
USA TOTAL SECURITY
And many others.
All of these companies appear to be ran out of an office based in New York. Their mode of operation appears to be to place large misleading Yellow Page ads with local numbers in major US cities promising things like low low, prices, 15 minute response time, and beating anybodies price. When you call the local numbers you unknowingly get routed to New York where your information is taken and someone working on their behalf in the local area is dispatched to perform the service. According to many sources, including the Attorney Generals of both Illinois and Ohio, those sent to do the job are often unlicensed to perform the work. Once the work is performed the customer is then charged much more than the average going rate for the service. In my case, my wife was charged about 100% more than what other local businesses charge for the same service.
Calling their customer support number, which also leads to New York, yields no results. In my experience, the people on the phone were rude, combative, argumentative, and very anti-consumer. They told me that the price was low, when it obviously was not, and that they would offer no refund. I was even told by one gentleman on the phone that all of the negativity on the Internet about the company was media disinformation and propaganda by competing locksmiths. I was told that the service fee was one price during the first phone call and another price during a second. They would not give me information on the person that performed the service, their license number to do business in the state of Colorado, or any other information that is of public record and any reputable business would not mind giving out. I was told to call back and speak to "Mr. Adler" who was the "supervisor". Every time I called and asked for that person I was given the same run around. I have now called three times and have not been able to speak to a "Mr. Adler". On one occasion I was hung up on by one of the service representatives.
If you feel like you have been a victim of this company please contact your local Better Business Bureau and state's Attorney General.
Here are some links regarding these companies:
Better Business Bureau report for Superb Solutions / Dependable Locks
Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions shut down over fraud in Illinois
State of Illinois Attorney General sues Superb Solutions / Dependable Locks
State of Illinois summarily suspends the license of Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
State of Ohio Attorney General sues Superb Solutions Dependable Locks
Milwaukee Wisconsin News Investigation into Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
More Milwaukee Wisconsin News Investigation into Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
Cleveland Ohio womans story about Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
Texas locksmith association public service announcement regarding Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
San Francisco California news report on Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
A womans experience with Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions in West Palm Beach
A womans experience with Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions in Cleveland Ohio
A womans experience with Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions in Pasadena California
Several reports from consumers for Always Ready Locksmith / Dependable Locks / Superb Solutions
Job placement ad for Dependable Locks in New York
CraigsList ad for call center job for Dependable Locks in New York
N.Y. locksmith firm fined -- city says scams continue
November 19, 2006
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Legal Affairs Reporter
City of Chicago officials have issued another $1,500 in fines against against Price Line Locksmiths, a New York-based company the Sun-Times has written about for scamming consumers.
In one case, an elderly West Lawn couple was mugged outside their home around midnight. The mugger took the keys to their home. They looked in the telephone book to find a nearby locksmith to change the locks on their home and saw a Price Line listing with what seemed to be a nearby address.
It took two hours for a Price Line employee to get to their home. Instead of just trying to re-key the locks, the Price Line employee pulled all the locks out of their doors and told them it would cost $986 for new locks, said William McCaffrey, spokesman for the city's Consumer Services Department.
Over a barrel, they paid it.
The next day, they went to a locksmith and learned their locks were fine and could have been re-keyed for $30, McCaffrey said.
'Protecting the consumer'
Price Line was ordered to pay back the couple's money in addition to a fine. The other two cases were similar. All are part of a pattern the company is known for, or was until state officials pulled the company's license. However, the company's assets have been sold to another New York-based operation, Dependable Locks, which is under temporary suspension by the state.
Price Line, based in New York, maintained a Skokie address but listed bogus addresses all over town so it could masquerade as a local locksmith when people called 411 during an emergency looking for a locksmith, McCaffrey said.
"They give you a quote over the phone, show up, give you way more than what the original quote was -- or they wouldn't give you any estimate -- until the work is almost done and then people are not in a position to do anything but pay because you don't have any locks on your doors," McCaffrey said.
"We're protecting the consumer," said Consumer Services Commissioner Norma Reyes. "If other [scamming locksmiths] are out there, they should be aware that we will be pursuing them."
Mistrial in locksmith fraud case after 'attack' on judge
October 31, 2006
BY STEPHANIE ZIMMERMANN Consumer Reporter
A state hearing on a New York-based locksmith company accused of fraud ended in a mistrial Monday after the company's attorney accused the administrative law judge of being intoxicated at an earlier proceeding.
Judge James J. Canavan, an administrative judge in the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, assailed the attack on his character without elaborating on his behavior at an earlier proceeding on Friday morning. Then he granted a mistrial.
"Due to the personal attacks that you've made on my character, and my so-called impairment, I cannot continue and be fair and impartial," Canavan said.
After the hearing, Canavan declined to respond further to the allegation.
Department spokeswoman Susan Hofer said later that Canavan told Chief Administrative Judge Michael Lyons that he was ill Friday and had taken some cold medicine, which made him groggy.
Edward Williams, attorney for Dependable Locks Inc., said that Canavan was "impaired" at the Friday hearing and that "everyone in the hearing room knew that."
During a recess Friday morning, Canavan told a reporter that company representative David Peer, who is an Israeli, "looks like a terrorist" and voiced confusion about the case.
Canavan recessed the hearing shortly after 10 a.m. Friday, then failed to return for the rest of the day.
Firm's license suspended
The mistrial means it's still up in the air whether a temporary suspension of Dependable Locks' license will be upheld. A new administrative judge, Lucia Kubiatowski, is set to hear the case at 1 p.m. today.
New York-based Dependable Locks' license was suspended last month when department officials determined that the business address listed on its application was false.
Dependable Locks uses some of the same phone numbers as another New York-based locksmith company, Price Line Locksmith, which has been indefinitely suspended from doing business in Illinois. Price Line had been the subject of numerous complaints and court cases involving consumer fraud, namely that the company was using phony addresses to make itself appear a local company, then low-balling and overcharging consumers who were locked out of their homes and cars.
Williams said the phone numbers are the same because Dependable bought Price Line's assets.
Welcome to the NEW web site at TheNationalLocksmith.com!
Locksmith's Scam Update
For those of you who have been following the stories of scammers posing as locksmith using fake addresses and phone numbers unmercifully ripping off the general public, (and all of you should be) there have been some encouraging events unfolding in the quest to stop such illegal activity from continuing.
First, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) seems to have finally taken notice of this matter and is beginning to take action. At first the IDFPR seemed to be turning a blind eye to this matter, but after numerous articles, news stories and complaints by locksmiths, the IDFPR is now working with the Illinois Attorney General's office to enforce legislation.
Speaking of the Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, she filed a 37-page lawsuit against two companies perpetrating the illegal activity.
The following is a partial excerpt from the official press release regarding the suit:
MADIGAN SEEKS TO CLOSE DOOR ON PHONY STOREFRONT LOCKSMITHS Chicago Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued two New York locksmith companies and their owners and officers for setting up fake addresses and phone numbers in Illinois that led locked-out consumers to believe they were dealing with a local company, when in fact their calls for help were dispatched to the Bronx, New York, and, often, unlicensed Illinois locksmiths were instructed to respond. Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties received complaints. Madigan's lawsuit names as defendants Price Line Locksmith, Inc., a New York corporation, doing business as Priceline Locksmith, Inc., and Locksmith 24 Hours, Inc.; Gilad Gill, individually and as President of Price Line Locksmith, Inc; David Sasson, individually and as President of Price Line Locksmith, Inc.; Superb Solutions, Inc., a New York corporation; and Shlomo Hadar, individually and as President of Superb Solutions, Inc. Madigan alleges that Price Line solicited and advertised for at least 17 companies under assumed business names that claimed to be Illinois-based businesses. However, outside of their registered agent's location in Skokie, the defendants do not have a location in Illinois. The ads for the companies with the assumed business names were placed in the Yellow Pages, on various Internet Yellow Pages' search engines, its own individual Web sites at www.chicago-locksmith.com, www.USATotalSecurity.com and on telephone directory assistance. Additionally, Price Line is not licensed to do business in Illinois under any of the assumed business names used by Price Line. It's time to close the door on a New York company that does everything in its power to represent that it's a local Illinois company, Madigan said. Price Line not only operated several phony businesses, they employed questionable practices when actually doing locksmith work. Madigan's suit seeks to prohibit Price Line from doing business in Illinois, revocation of any and all licenses to do business in Illinois, a declaration that all contracts with consumers are unlawful and that restitution is paid. The lawsuit also seeks a civil penalty of $50,000 and additional penalties of $50,000 for each violation found to have been committed with the intent to defraud. Additionally, the suit seeks $10,000 per violation committed against a person 65 or older. Consumers who face emergency situations such as lockouts often are targets for con artists, Madigan said. We allege that Price Line preyed upon this stress and in the process, broke the laws of our state. The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Henry Ford, Jr., in Madigan's Consumer Protection Division.
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 frequently 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.
Hank Investigates reports
We're not really locked out of this Weymouth condo. It's a test. The guy with the bag is from a company listed as a local locksmith in Weymouth, and our 7News producers have called him to get us inside.
While we wait, we ask the president of the Massachusetts Locksmiths Association to have his technician open the deadbolt.
In less than two minutes, the door opens.
Hank Phillippi Ryan, 7News
"That was quick."
Since he picked the lock, there's no damage and no need to pay for expensive lock replacement. The cost?
Lonnie Piper, Massachusetts Locksmiths Association
"$85 to $90."
Now, the test. This guy with the bag tried to open the deadbolt, but soon gives up and says he'll have to use a drill.
That wrecks the lock! He says he'll replace it, but it'll cost more. We say no, but the total bill is still $175.
Lonnie Piper, Massachusetts Locksmiths Association
"No other way to put it. They're getting ripped off."
Divya was in trouble for real, locked out of his Back Bay condo. He checked the web for the closest locksmith and called for help. His lock was drilled and destroyed. His bill: $180.
"I knew I had gotten screwed."
Bob was locked out in Southie. He called information for the closest locksmith. His lock was drilled and destroyed. His bill for the "service call" and lock replacement cost $720.
"They came, and I was at their mercy."
Our investigation found that it's fraud at your front door. "Local" calls are actually forwarded to a central dispatch center for just two out of state companies. In fact, we found they answered the phone for dozens and dozens of "local" listings.
"I mean it's definitely a scam."
What's more, the "local" addresses they show are fake. The Weymouth locksmith we called lists a Weymouth address: 550 Washington Street. We found that's actually a restaurant. Checking other locksmith listings, we found pizza places, an ice cream store, an empty lot, a sandwich shop and dozens more, all being used without permission.
The Federal Trade Commission says using a fake address to mislead consumers is deceptive and illegal.
We tested more "locksmiths" from those fake addresses, and though each time a member of the Massachusetts Locksmiths Association showed our locks could be easily picked, every dispatched "locksmith" who showed up pulled out a drill, then handed us a bill.
And these so-called local locksmiths who may damage your doors aren't local at all. Here in Woburn, we called a one with a Woburn address. Who shows up? The very same guy, who appeared as our local locksmith from Weymouth!
And when we tested the other company, same thing. The supposed local locksmith from Woburn was the same person, who also showed up in Weymouth!
What's more, this same guy was also dispatched to our test lockouts in Lowell, Lawrence, Haverhill and Dracut.
John Casey, Massachusetts Locksmiths Association
"I believe people are getting taken advantage of, and something has to be done about it."
Right now, there are no state regulations or licensing for locksmiths. And we found so many fraudulent listings, it's impossible to name them all. Check our Web site for tips from the Massachusetts Locksmiths Association on how to make sure you're calling a reputable business.
For more information and tips on how to find a reputable locksmith:
MA Locksmith Association
The Associated Locksmiths of America
Superb Solutions wanted Carolyn Jones to sign a "satisfied customer" agreement after overcharging her almost $350.Eileen Cleary was in a panic. It was a snowy Thanksgiving Day, and she had just locked herself out of her condo. She had food in the oven, and her family was waiting at her brother's house. She flipped through the phone book to the first locksmith's ad she saw. "Fast 15-minute response" and "no extra charge for weekends and holidays," it read. Perfect. She called the 800 number. Fifty bucks, an operator told her. A locksmith was on his way.
Two hours later, a man in an unmarked car was in her driveway. He tried to pick her lock, but couldn't quite get it, so he resorted to his second line of defense: a power drill. He put on a new lock and doorknob, and went back to his car to write up the bill.
But if Cleary thought turning 15 minutes into two hours was an impressive feat, she was in for a surprise. Her tab came to $287. On top of the $55 the locksmith charged for showing up, he racked up $100 for drilling the lock, $29.29 for taking out the old lock, another $29.29 for putting a new one in, $69.69 for a new doorknob, and $20 tax.
He was nice enough to deduct $15 for being late.
In tears and already late for dinner, Cleary paid the man by credit card. The next day, she called the company, Superb Solutions, to complain. After waiting on hold for several minutes, she got a dial tone.
It only takes a second for Jim Kennelly, owner of Cleveland Lock Service, to guess the culprit's identity. "The gypsies," he says, without hesitation. He's read about Superb Solutions, based in New York City, at online locksmith forums and in newspapers from around the country. Like the fabled nomadic thieves, the company runs its elaborate scam in one town until it is chased to the next. Kennelly knew it was just a matter of time before they showed up in Cleveland.
"The problem is, they only get one-time customers, because they hurt them so bad," he says.
The company operates under several different names. In Illinois, it's been slapped with two lawsuits by the state's attorney general for jacking customers for hundreds of dollars. In the most egregious case, the company charged an elderly man in a Chicago suburb more than $1,700 to unlock his door. The locksmith was charged with felony fraud.
In a separate case, Superb Solutions executives Shlomo Hadar and David Sasson pleaded guilty to using deceptive practices. Last month a judge ordered them to pay $3,800 in fines. The company was also ordered to disconnect its Chicago phone lines.
"You're allowed to charge people whatever you want for your services," says Bill McCaffrey of Chicago's Department of Consumer Services. "But there's a point where it's just obscene."
Superb Solutions' MO is simple, yet ingenious. When it first invades a city, it blankets it with fake addresses and business names, all with different phone numbers, says McCaffrey. That way, when you call 411 and ask for the nearest locksmith, you're bound to get them.
Some of the company's addresses listed in the Cleveland White Pages -- under the name Locksmith 24-Hour, Inc. -- are actually the addresses for a deli, a tailor, a McDonald's, and a Chinese restaurant. And, unlike local locksmiths, they can afford to buy two-page, full-color spreads in the Yellow Pages to lure you in.
But while you think you're calling a local mom-and-pop, you're actually being routed to a call center in a Bronx apartment, which then calls local subcontractors, paid on commission, to do the job.
"You're quoted a lowball price, and once they get out there, you're kind of stuck," says Sue McConnell of the Cleveland Better Business Bureau. She's received five complaints already about Superb Solutions, and the Ohio Attorney General has logged seven. A spokesperson for the AG's office won't confirm or deny an investigation. "What are you going to do, call someone else?" asks McConnell.
That's exactly how Carolyn Jones felt. When she locked herself out of her Bedford home, she called three different locksmiths for quotes. Superb Solutions promised to bill her $39 -- half what the others were charging. It took only five minutes for a ponytailed man to pry her doorknob off with a crowbar and put on another one, so she asked him to come with her to her other house five minutes away, which needed a new lock and deadbolt. It would be an extra $84, he told her.
But her final bill soared to $471.
"I couldn't believe it," Jones says. "He spent most of the time writing up that big bill in his car." She finally paid him, just to get him to leave. Then she called the company to complain. A man offered her a refund of $116, but only if she'd sign a form saying she was a "satisfied" customer. She called the Better Business Bureau instead.
Locksmiths "can pretty much quote you an exact price over the phone," McConnell says. "It's not a common practice for them to . . . end up charging you 10 times that much by the time it's all over with."
Shlomo Hadar is more than willing to discuss his company's track record. He says he's committed to making things right. "I can assure you, the next few months, you guys will see a completely different change. If someone was overcharged, I guarantee he's going to get his money back."
But what he considers "overcharged" is another story. He admits the initial fee quoted by phone is just for showing up. "A lot of people unfortunately misunderstand that, although it's very clearly stated," he says. "We're not going to be the cheapest."
That's news to Jones and Cleary. The company's two-page spread in the Yellow Pages says "We'll Beat Any Price."
In obvious cases of abuse, Hadar again shirks responsibility, blaming unscrupulous subcontractors.
"It's Cleveland's local locksmiths that are taking advantage," he says. "We're not evil people."
As for the company's legal troubles in Illinois, Hadar says he only admitted guilt to appease the court.
"We had to give them what they wanted, so they'll appear nice in front of their cameras," he says. "The bottom line is that we're still laughing. We're still here."
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Jan 25, 2007 10:55 pm US/Central
Scam Artists Pose As Locksmiths
(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 apparently 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."
(CBS 11 News)
Please use this link to give you the news papers reports and watch the television reports as well. This link will get you help as well from aloa. Here is the link: http://www.aloa.org/pressroom.html
Can we please be fair and honest with the consumers reading all this?
There is no doubt that there is a problem going on, and I am not in disagreement with the feelings from many, and admire the zeal of posters like Leeland. But I think it is time for others to be fair and honest.
It is totally inappropriate for the consumers or others to be "Scared" into believing that state licensing is what will provide them "protection" against what has occurred. This is smoke and mirrors.
In states where licensing was and is required is exactly where a large concentration of these scams have and are occurring. These are also states where ALOA has meddled in the ridiculous structures of these unneeded taxes.
I am sorry if some will not like what is being said, but enough is enough and this group is not being honest in it's presentations.
After reading a recent Internet posting by an ALOA Northeast Director, where he boastfully admits that he Super Glued someones locks who owed him money - I just could not except that this continues. This is also a person who operates a Christian Locksmith website!!!
Furthermore, I witnessed a hardware installation at a bank by an individual that was both licensed and using a CML - Certified Master Locksmith designation which is issued by ALOA - The work was so bad that the bank staff was at risk and they were angry. The installation was so bad that photos were taken to be used in educational seminars to train professionals how not to to things and repairs were made perfectly by a non licensed, skilled & educated locksmith!!!
Please stop the smoke & mirrors and using this issue to mislead the consumers and those in the political arena. Address the issue, and let the existing Consumer Protection laws to do what they were desinged for and nothing more.
Story Updated: Jan 22, 2007
I-Team: Deceptive Locksmiths
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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This link came out on the phony locksmiths last week.go online and watch this news report.here is the link on the television news report:
Carmel on the Case
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At one time or another most of us have been locked out of our homes or cars. But Seven News has learned if you rely on local phone listings to find a local locksmith, you could be in for a big surprise. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
Reported by: Carmel Cafiero
Producer: Marina Angleton
WSVN -- Who thinks twice about unlocking a door? Except of course, when you don't have the key.
Judy Lissy: "We said, 'Oh, my God, welcome to Florida.'"
Judy and Alan Lissy think they were taken after they were locked out of their condo on the day they moved in.
What should have been a simple job to pick the lock turned into a $799 bill.
Alan Lissy: "He said that he... "
Judy Lissy: "He had to take the lock out."
Alan Lissy: "He had to drill it out instead of picking it."
Carmel Cafiero: "How often does that happen that somebody can't pick the lock so you have to drill?"
Fred Burton: "Very, very seldom."
Locksmiths Fred Burton and Bob McMahon say all but the most sophisticated locks can be picked with specialized tools.
They say drills are often used by unskilled people who ruin locks and run up big bills.
And lately, they say, there are a lot of those untrained locksmiths working in South Florida.
They're being dispatched by out-of-town companies that use fake names and addresses with local telephone numbers.
Carmel Cafiero: "Phone listings for local locksmiths are being flooded with companies listing bogus locations. For example, I'm standing at an intersection in downtown Fort Lauderdale where five different companies claim to be located. And not one of them is really here."
This construction site is supposed to be a locksmith's office.
And so is this laundromat.
Carmel Cafiero: "Erica -- I think I just talked to you."
And when I called different companies, I kept getting the same operator.
Carmel Cafiero: "How many names do you have in the phone book?"
She told me that depends on what book.
As a result of multiple listings for the same operation under different names, local locksmiths say they are losing business at an alarming rate.
Bob McMahon: "I used to be able to get like four or five lockout calls a day. It's like maybe a lockout a day. People are calling these guys and not getting the service that they deserve."
And it's not just about service.
When you call a locksmith, you're giving them access to your home or car.
Fred Burton: "You don't know if they are going to make a key and sell the key to somebody. You come home from work one day and everything is gone."
But this is not just a South Florida problem.
The Associated Locksmiths of America says problems with phony companies are being reported from New York to California and points in between.
John Casey: "I believe that people are getting taken advantage of."
Our sister station in Boston also looked into these phony locksmiths.
It also found fake local address being used and workers being dispatched by out-of-state companies.
And despite the fact locks could easily be picked and opened, workers there wanted to drill and charge big bucks.
Fred Burton: "The only thing I can think to tell people to do is if you call a locksmith, and they ask for your zip code, just tell them, 'Thank you very much, I will look for somebody else.'"
There's never a good time to get locked out but, if you do, take the time to question the company you contact.
It could make the difference between a big inconvenience and a big bill.
IF THERE'S SOMETHING YOU THINK CARMEL SHOULD INVESTIGATE, GIVE HER A CALL:
Be careful of the locksmith you decide to trust
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 fiancé 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.
Troubleshooter Howard Ain answers consumer complaints and questions weekdays at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on WKRC-TV Local 12. You can write to him at Hey Howard, 12 WKRC-TV, 1906 Highland Ave., Cincinnati 45219.
The moral of this story is when you call a locksmith do NOT be to quick to order the service. Ask many questions first such as will you damage my lock or will you pick it.
The scammers will always avoid giving you an exact price when in fact most openings by real locksmiths are quoted with an exact price.
Most locksmiths will quote you a complete price for the opening especially with automobiles.
These rings of counterfeit locksmiths are mostly ISRAEL companies using mostly Israel workers who are here on tourist visas and impersonating real locksmiths they are not trained with the exception of how to perform the scam on you.
These scammers and they are now in every big city will try and tell you the technition or locksmith has to give you the complete price when they are there.
That is how they suck you in. They bait and switch you on the price.
They will act like drilling a lock is hard and they have to charge you more because they say it cant be picked. They now will try and pick it just to say they tried. They will still usually drill it forcing you to purchase a new lock ( usually junk ) at a highly inflated price.
Dont be suckered in by a full page locksmith ad. Many of the full page ads are scammers using many names.
Be very cautious when using 411 to get a locksmith referral currently they have many of the listings monopolized with names such as 24 hour locksmith, emergency locksmith, ###000 locksmith, 000000 locksmith,etc Most of them even have a phony address listed that might be an empty lot or another business such as a Mcdonalds or a burger king etc.
Be especially careful when looking up a locksmith on the Internet in some citys the first 2000 listings all belong to a couple of scammer locksmith impersonators.
Be careful and ask questions. Ask for their location and some questions about them. If they are reluctant to answer do NOT use them.
If they say they are only a dispatcher and cannot give you any info be very careful.