Dependable Locks / Quick LocksmithScanty pays twice!

I am sure this has happened to many other people, but this is the first time for me. I recently adopted a puppy and I was nervous to leave her home alone for the first time. In the midst of making sure I had gated her properly and removed any objects she could get in to, I locked myself out of my home.

Just moving in a month ago, I had not made arrangements to give someone a spare set of keys. I tried calling my landlord and he did not answer. So I had to call a locksmith. After several calls, I found someone who would come out for $55. I jumped at this price because all of the other people were saying it would cost between $120-$150 for the call.

The locksmith was supposed to be there in 15 minutes, but it was more like 45 minutes. He assessed the situation and told me that regardless of how he gets the door opened, it was going to cost me an additional $85.85. I was already upset, because this is more than anyone else was going to charge for the entire job.

Please keep in mind that their ad in the yellow pages says, WE WILL BEAT ANYONE ELSE'S PRICE. At this point, I was already responsible for the $55 service call, so I figured I might as well go through with the whole thing.

The locksmith tried to pick the lock and also tried those air pressure bags to force the door open. Neither worked. So, then he tells me that he is going to have to drill the lock out and there are several options for replacing the lock. I chose the cheapest option.

After he was finished, he said if I paid in cash, he would be able to call his supervisor to get me a deal. He ended up crediting me $25 for being late and not charging me tax.

Here is a breakdown of my bill:

Service Call $55.55
Breaking In (Drill) $85.85
Uninstall Old Lock $15.15
B-Level Door Knob $55.55
New Lock Installation $15.15
Cash + Late Discount -$25
---------------------------
Total $200,

Was I ripped off! I know I was misled. Do I have a case to try and get some money back per their advertisement to beat anyone's price? Advise smb!

Responses

  • Ki
    Kim Jan 09, 2007
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    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Hi there...

    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.

    Please see

    http://www.sandiegolockandsafe.com/locksmithscams.html

    and/or

    http://www.sandiegolockandsafe.com/blogger

    for more information, links, etc.

    Cheers!

    Kim

    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. :)

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 20, 2007
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    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 protected]


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

    "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)

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 20, 2007
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    Aloa and Reasonable Locksmithing are fighting against phony locksmiths.here is is the link.http://www.aloa.org/pressroom.html

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 20, 2007
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    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 [email protected]

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  • Ex
    Executive Producer LockRadio.c Jan 20, 2007
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    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    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.

    Furthermore....

    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

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 21, 2007
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    This website is about the business practices and locksmith services being offered under the following business names:

    SUPERB SOLUTIONS
    DEPENDABLE LOCKS
    ALWAYS READY LOCKSMITH
    PRICELINE 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

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 21, 2007
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    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    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."

    [email protected]

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 21, 2007
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    Verified customer

    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.

    [email protected]

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 22, 2007
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    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.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 22, 2007
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    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 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.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 22, 2007
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    Verified customer

    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.

    Divya
    "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.

    Bob
    "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.

    Divya
    "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

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 25, 2007
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    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."

    Offer your feedback to this story.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 26, 2007
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    Jan 25, 2007 10:55 pm US/Central

    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 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)

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Feb 03, 2007
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    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

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  • Ex
    Executive Producer LockRadio.c Feb 07, 2007
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    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.

    www.LockRadio.com

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Feb 10, 2007
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    Story Updated: Jan 22, 2007
    I-Team: Deceptive Locksmiths
    Jenn Rourke
    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
    LELAND IMM Feb 25, 2007
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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:

    http://wcco.com/topstories/local_story_050222739.html

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Mar 30, 2007
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    Carmel on the Case

    Email this article to a friend

    Lousy Locksmiths

    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

    Contact
    [email protected]

    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:

    Dade: 305-627-CLUE
    Broward: 954-921-CLUE
    E-mail: [email protected]

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Apr 01, 2007
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    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.

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  • Fr
    fred Apr 16, 2007
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    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.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Apr 29, 2007
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    MADIGAN SEEKS TO CLOSE DOOR ON PHONY STOREFRONT LOCKSMITHS

    Chicago – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today 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. Complaints were received from Cook, DuPage and Lake Counties.

    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.”

    Those questionable practices included drilling consumers’ locks instead of picking the locks, which in itself is more expensive and requires the extra cost of replacement locks; trying to charge customers more for work than was quoted over the telephone; giving consumers receipts stamped “Priceline Locksmith…Servicing the Great State of Illinois” when consumers thought they had contacted an entirely different company; and charging consumers for installing locks allegedly of a certain quality when in fact they were a lesser standard.

    In one instance, a 67-year-old Streamwood man went to the police department after he was locked out. The police called what they thought was a local locksmith from the Yellow Pages. When the locksmith arrived, the consumer asked to see his license, which he did not show. Against the consumer’s objections, he drilled the lock open and installed a new lock. Upon completing his work, the locksmith wrote a bill for $1,709.20, which had Price Line Locksmith stamped on to it. The consumer, who paid with a credit card, called his credit card company, only to find out that the charge was made to yet another business, Superb Solutions Locksmith.

    An Evanston consumer searched the Web site www.chicago-locksmith.com for a locksmith to have the front and back doors re-keyed on his recently purchased condominium. He was quoted a rate of $80 per cylinder for the lock changes. The next day, a locksmith showed up and told the consumer it was necessary to replace the entire lock for the back door because the consumer did not have a key for that door. The locksmith said he was installing a heavy duty lock and the consumer agreed. The bill was $359 from Price Line.

    The next day, the front door lock that was re-keyed broke and the front door would not open. The consumer contacted Price Line, which agreed to send a technician, but no one showed up. The consumer finally contacted a truly local locksmith and paid $174.50 for the door to be repaired. A few days after Price Line’s work, the consumer found on the back door replacement lock box and the manufacturer’s Web site that the alleged “heavy duty” lock was only standard duty, even though Price Line charged more to install that lock.

    In another instance, a Matteson consumer was locked out of her car during lunch in the South Holland area. She dialed directory assistance for a local locksmith and was given information for Triple AAA Locksmith and 24hr South Holland Locksmith. Both had the same phone number. While one of the businesses said it would be right there, she waited 45 minutes.

    Before opening the car door, the locksmith told the consumer it would cost her $65 for the initial phone call and $165 to open the door. The bill, with $32 added in taxes, came to $272 and was stamped Price Line at the top. After paying the bill with her credit card, the consumer called Price Line and told them they lied about where they were located, the price for their lockout services and the timely delivery of such services. She also called directory assistance to get the addresses of the locksmiths, and was given a Park Ridge address for one and a South Holland address for the other. The consumer filed a dispute with her credit card company after she discovered that the charges were billed to a New York address.

    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.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 04, 2007
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    Carmel on the Case

    Air Date: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 email this article to a friend Watch the video

    Lousy Locksmiths

    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

    Contact
    [email protected]

    View all archived
    Carmel on the Case reports


    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:

    Dade: 305-627-CLUE
    Broward: 954-921-CLUE
    E-mail: [email protected]

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 04, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Scandal? This post could save your life

    I received a phone call and fax from a locksmith who informed me that there’s some sort of drama going on in the industry.

    Basically, it seems as though some out of state companies are trying to muscle their way into the local market.

    There are no state regulations or licensing requirements for locksmiths, so there is nothing stopping someone from advertising himself as a locksmith.

    What seems to be happening, at least according to Massachusetts Locksmiths Association, is that these out of state companies are charging exorbitant prices to do basic work - picking a lock for people.

    Hank Phillippi Ryan, who knows her way around a good story (regardless of facts) covered it an in expose, this past year.

    It’s frustrating, dangerous and could happen to you tomorrow! You’re locked out of your house and have to get in. Be careful whom you call. Hank Phillippi Ryan’s exclusive investigation reveals you may be stuck with a ruined lock and an exorbitant bill! Its a big money secret some call a “Lock Crock.”

    What does the Massachusetts Locksmiths Association suggest?

    Check their website to get a referral to a reputable locksmith.


    Comment by Kim

    Hi John…

    Thanks for touching on the subject for your readers. Just a quick note tho’… It’s not just Massachusetts. Superb Solutions/Priceline and Dependable Locks (Same company, different names) are all over the US. Any search engine search for locksmith (city name) in nearly any metro area of any state will bring up a couple dozen variations of the same company. USATotalSecurity.com, etc. They’re all one and the same.

    Even in states that do require licensing, such as California, they outnumber licensed locksmiths 20 to 1. They are vast, and know their numbers far outstrip any puny and underfunded enforcement or legislative efforts by city or state governments to stop them. Here in San Diego, the local police don’t even know the law on locksmith licensing well enough to enforce it, and will refuse to come to a call from a customer or other locksmith if an unlicensed locksmith tries the same scam. These companies buy up all the double truck ads in local yellow pages, bump the pricing on click ads out of reach of local locksmiths, and use endless fake addresses to get into local directories.

    In California, advertisers are not even supposed to accept advertising from non-licensed locksmiths, but there’s no enforcement, and the bad guys know it. Besides, what yellow pages or online click ad seller will turn down that lucrative money, even if it is a crime to accept it, when they know no one will hold their feet to the fire over it?

    For information on how wide-spread this is, please see:

    http://www.sandiegolockandsafe.com/locksmithscams.html
    http://www.aloa.org/pressroom.html
    http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/dependable-locks-quick-locksmith-c3769.html
    http://wcco.com/topstories/local_story_050222739.html

    And more, far more…

    In short, don’t think that licensing will stop it, or even slow it down. These companies work just as much in the 14 states that require licensing as they do in the states that don’t. Licensing is an excellent thing, and it should be nationwide. But we need to pressure the yellow page companies, and the online directories to follow the laws against deceptive and false advertising, and hold them accountable if the lure of big money gets to be too overwhelming. If the scammers have no place to advertise, they have no place from which to get business. License or no license.

    Cheers!

    Kim
    Owner
    San Diego Lock & Safe
    Mike
    Comment by Mike | 05/02/07 at 1:17 am
    It is True, even in states with licensing these out of state gypses are all over the map. In the state of Illinois there is licensing for locksmiths. It is a misdameanor the first offense and a felony the second offense. This has had no effect on these locksmith impersonators. They operate freely out in the open without any fear. They have put many Small legally licensed locksmiths out of business in Illinois already. In Illinois we have been able to stop one of these companies but their are many more and years of complaints to the authorities have gone unanswered and the companies still operate out in the open.

    These are Israeli forieners here on tourist visas that seem to have no respect for american laws and the american consumer.

    An Illinois Judge actually claimed that one of the ring leaders of this company looked like a terrorist. ( Chicago suntimes ).

    It amazes me that the governing officials lack any will to stop these companys from ripping off consumers.

    There are people all over the country that were charged hundreds and even thousands for what they believed would be a 55.00 lockout charge. These guys seem to take advantage of senior citizens and women with the higher prices.

    These companys operate boiler room type phone banks and have there crews of scammers placed all over the country, sometimes even living in motels.

    They are not trained locksmiths but just a person with a drill that destroys locks rather then pick them. With all the news stories around the country they now use picks and will try for a minute or two and then say it has to be drilled. They will also use this excuse to upcharge the customer an extra hundred, five hundred, thousand, dollars.

    These companys are also involved in other industrys and are ripping off consumers untold millions every year.

    These industrys are carpet cleaning, florists, towing, moving, etc.

    The best thing a consumer could do is ask many questions like where they are located, Owners name, Lic #, What the complete charges would be.

    Any thing less than a complete answer they should NOT use that company.

    Beware of people that say they are only dispatchers and the technician has to give them the price when they see the vehicle or building they have to unlock, Almost all real locksmiths will give you a complete price over the phone for a lockout. On ocassion (usually rare) There may be an exception to this and you may be charged slightly more. IE: Price was given to pick one lock and upon arrival there might be 3 or 4.

    I would also advise consumers to Beware of calling Full Page yellow book ads, Referrals from 411, and internet ads usually at the top of the list, and listings that all look generic and have many more like them with different addresses listed.

    Mike

    President
    Illinois Indiana Locksmith Association.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 06, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    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.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 16, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    After a Boston ABC television news affiliate called the state's locksmith trade association pretending to be locked out, the locksmith picked the lock in less than two minutes and charged $90. When the same television news crew randomly picked a locksmith from the phone directory, the locksmith quickly gave up picking the deadbolt and drilled the lock, offering to replace it for $175, according to a televised sting on locksmiths.

    Complaints about locksmiths recently prompted California's Department of Consumer Affairs, working with the San Francisco District Attorney's Office, to conduct a sting to weed out unlicensed locksmiths. Three of five locksmiths were cited for operating without a license after they responded to the bogus request to change locks.

    Representatives of the same locksmith company that riled California officials were fined thousands of dollars after Chicago's Department of Consumer Services charged them with fraudulent acts, deceptive practices and operating without a license. The three incidents are among dozens of recent news accounts, including televised investigative reports and law enforcement stings the Association Locksmiths of America (ALOA) has compiled as part of a campaign to warn consumers about the emergence of a troubling trend.

    "The consumer is quoted a reasonable price over the phone, but when a person posing as a locksmith finishes the job, the consumer is charged a considerable amount more for unnecessary and sub-standard work," says ALOA's executive director, Charles W. Gibson, Jr.

    ALOA has recorded a number of incidents of elderly consumers locked out of their homes and being charged $900 to $1,700 to replace a $12 lock. The locksmiths featured in the reports typically are not licensed or registered in state or jurisdiction. They are also often part of an out-of-state operation which local authorities are investigating.

    ALOA offers a checklist for weeding out locksmiths who aren't operating within the law and we've researched additional tips from the states of California, Florida and Illinois to help you choose a professional locksmith.

    It's a good idea to select a locksmith before you need one. Access to resources for finding a law abiding locksmith are limited when you are locked out of your home. Anxiety and the need for fast help could cloud your judgment.

    Ask family, friends, co-workers and others you trust for referrals. Where applicable, check for licenses (not all states license locksmiths), registered or certified locksmiths, and those affiliated with an association. Verify licenses or certification with the regulatory agency and verify trade group affiliation with the trade group. No designation guarantees the locksmith's work, but they do come with some inherent consumer protections.

    Some legitimate locksmiths will work out of a car for quick jobs, but most will arrive in a service vehicle that is clearly marked. Beware of a locksmith who immediately tells you the lock has to be drilled and replaced. An experienced locksmith who has invested in the education and tools of the trade can unlock almost any door.

    The locksmith should ask who you are and record your identifying information, especially when opening a home, business or a car. Ask the locksmiths for a detailed price for a lockout. Don't pay for service in advance and always ask that "defective" parts be returned to you.

    Beware of companies that don't advertise a street address, answer the phone with a generic phrase, such as "Locksmith service" and those that don't clearly identify their company name. Also beware of offers of multiple discounts, emergency service promotions, claims of lowest prices, "No. 1" self-ratings and other puffery.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 16, 2007
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    Verified customer

    Most people don't have a locksmith on speed dial, but when you're locked out, you need help fast. Help from someone you can trust. But NBC Action News Investigator Nichole Teich is hot on the trail of one company that's hurting some customers instead of helping.

    When you've locked yourself out and need to get in immediately, you're desperate. So you open the phone book and call a locksmith. That's what Cynthia Day did after losing the keys to her car.

    I opened the Yellow Pages and the first big ad I seen, I called them," she said.
    The ad filled the entire page and listed six local phone numbers and a local address. "I wanted them to unlock my door and make me a key," Day said.

    But after six hours, all she saw were wires hanging from her dash and her car's ignition switch in the passenger seat. "He told me he was going to fix it, but then it was going to be a $300 bill."

    What Day did not know is that the company has a long list of complaints from customers who say they were pressured into paying high prices. So the NBC Action News Investigators decided to put them to the test.

    With the help of a metro homeowner, we locked ourselves out. We also called Always Available Locksmith for help. They told us $39 for the service call, $15 to open the door.

    And 30 minutes later, a locksmith arrives. He starts using tools to pick the lock and our hidden cameras are watching his every move. But what he doesn't know is that we picked the lock the day before.

    President of the Missouri/Kansas Locksmith Association Jack Iturralde is helping us because he says other local locksmiths are often left to clean up the mess after Always Available Locksmith makes a house call.

    "If someone comes out and pretends to be a locksmith and treats them like this, that makes the entire craft look badly," Iturralde said. Using ordinary lock picking tools, it takes Iturralde less than one minute to get into our test home. And he left the lock still intact.

    "This is definitely a pickable lock," he said. "I would see no reason why any locksmith with reasonable training would have to drill this lock whatsoever." At the test house, the locksmith from Always Available – using the same tools – tried to pick the lock. One minute passes, but the locksmith is having no luck. Five minutes later, 10 minutes later, the locksmith says he can't open the door. That is when he brings up an alternative.

    "I might have to drill it," he said. Drilling a hold through the lock is something Iturralde says a skilled locksmith would rarely do, because then the homeowner is left with no way to protect their property.

    But the locksmith from Always Available has a solution for that, as well. "That's $89 without tax." He just happens to have a replacement lock in his van and the price goes up $35. The Always Available locksmith takes out a drill and starts destroying the lock. So we stopped watching and started asking tough questions.

    NICHOLE TEICH: I'm Nichole Teich with NBC Action News. Is that how you make extra money, by drilling into these locks? And then selling them a lock?

    Then he stopped talking. "Get this camera out of my face," he said, then walked away. But we already knew the answers. We decided to pay a visit to the company. The ad in the phone book says all calls are answered at 295 W. 231 St. in Tonganoxie, Kan. But there's no locksmith there, only a huge cornfield. But we tracked the company thousands of miles from home, to New York City.

    The company's real name is Dependable Locksmith, and when you call one of the six local phone numbers, your call is forwarded to an answering service out of New York.

    Makesha Brown, a former employee, told sister station TMJ4 that she was trained to elude customers' questions. "Some would be crying, some would be really angry, agitated," she said, adding supervisors often made fun of the callers who were angry about the way they do business. And if she was ever in trouble, "I would think twice. I would make sure to find out where the locksmith was because I never hope to deal with that company myself."

    The real problem is that even though cosmetologists, podiatrists and even perfumeries are all required to have licenses, locksmiths are not. Dependable Locksmith is doing business in several states and is under currently investigation. Both the attorneys general in Illinois and Ohio are suing the company for deceptive practices. There is nothing pending in Missouri or Kansas.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 19, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    May 3, 2007 1:31 PM

    Investigators: Door Jam
    Posted By: Timothy Donley

    Most people don't have a locksmith on speed dial, but when you're locked out, you need help fast. Help from someone you can trust.
    But NBC Action News Investigator Nichole Teich is hot on the trail of one company that's hurting some customers instead of helping.

    When you've locked yourself out and need to get in immediately, you're desperate. So you open the phonebook and call a locksmith. That's what Cynthia Day did after losing the keys to her car.

    "[I] opened the Yellow Pages and the first big ad I seen, I called them," she said.

    The ad filled the entire page and listed six local phone numbers and a local address.

    "I wanted them to unlock my door and make me a key," Day said.

    But after six hours, all she saw were wires hanging from her dash and her car's ignition switch in the passenger seat.

    "He told me he was going to fix it, but then it was going to be a $300 bill."

    What Day did not know is that the company has a long list of complaints from customers who say they were pressured into paying high prices. So the NBC Action News Investigators decided to put them to the test.

    With the help of a metro homeowner, we locked ourselves out. We also called Always Available Locksmith for help. They told us $39 for the service call, $15 to open the door.

    And 30 minutes later, a locksmith arrives. He starts using tools to pick the lock and our hidden cameras are watching his every move. But what he doesn't know is that we picked the lock the day before.

    President of the Missouri/Kansas Locksmith Association Jack Iturralde is helping us because he says other local locksmiths are often left to clean up the mess after Always Available Locksmith makes a house call.

    "If someone comes out and pretends to be a locksmith and treats them like this, that makes the entire craft look badly," Iturralde said.

    Using ordinary lock picking tools, it takes Iturralde less than one minute to get into our test home. And he left the lock still intact.

    "This is definitely a pickable lock," he said. "I would see no reason why any locksmith with reasonable training would have to drill this lock whatsoever."

    At the test house, the locksmith from Always Available – using the same tools – tried to pick the lock. One minute passes, but the locksmith is having no luck. Five minutes later, 10 minutes later, the locksmith says he can't open the door. That is when he brings up an alternative.

    "I might have to drill it," he said.

    Drilling a hold through the lock is something Iturralde says a skilled locksmith would rarely do, because then the homeowner is left with no way to protect their property.

    But the locksmith from Always Available has a solution for that, as well. "That's $89 without tax."

    He just happens to have a replacement lock in his van and the price goes up $35.

    The Always Available locksmith takes out a drill and starts destroying the lock. So we stopped watching and started asking tough questions.


    NICHOLE TEICH: I'm Nichole Teich with NBC Action News. Is that how you make extra money, by drilling into these locks?
    LOCKSMITH: No.

    NICHOLE TEICH: And then selling them a lock?

    LOCKSMITH: No.

    Then he stopped talking.

    "Get this camera out of my face," he said, then walked away.

    But we already knew the answers. We decided to pay a visit to the company. The ad in the phone book says all calls are answered at 295 W. 231 St. in Tonganoxie, Kan. But there's no locksmith there, only a huge cornfield. But we tracked the company thousands of miles from home, to New York City.

    The company's real name is Dependable Locksmith, and when you call one of the six local phone numbers, your call is forwarded to an answering service out of New York.

    Makesha Brown, a former employee, told sister station TMJ4 that she was trained to elude customers' questions.

    "Some would be crying, some would be really angry, agitated," she said, adding supervisors often made fun of the callers who were angry about the way they do business. And if she was ever in trouble, "I would think twice. I would make sure to find out where the locksmith was because I never hope to deal with that company myself."

    The real problem is that even though cosmetologists, podiatrists and even perfumists are all required to have licenses, locksmiths are not.

    Dependable Locksmith is doing business in several states and is under currently investigation. Both the attorneys general in Illinois and Ohio are suing the company for deceptive practices. There is nothing pending in Missouri or Kansas.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 27, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Unlicensed Locksmiths May Be Evading Taxes & Pocketing Your Money

    Investigative reporting may sound glamorous to news viewers, but much of what we do is often tedious and time consuming.

    Earlier this year, our researchers looked up 2,300 hundred listings of San Francisco locksmiths in AT&T’s www.yellowpages.com. We then checked each listing to determine how many of those companies had licenses. The process took well over a month. We found out only about three percent had the proper license to legally operate as locksmiths in California. You can do your own license check of any locksmith you find by going to http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=7on_your_side&id=5079713.

    Last month, we then sent off the same list of locksmiths to the disclosure office of the California State Board of Equalization. We submitted a public records act request and asked them to determine if the locksmiths had proper seller’s permit. The permits allow the company to collect sales tax on behalf of the state.

    After weeks of time consuming research by the staff of the Board of Equalization, we compiled the information they gave us into a spread sheet. We found out that only 7 percent of the San Francisco locksmiths listed in www.yellowpages.com definitely had permits. Another 17 and a half percent did not have seller’s permits under their name, but businesses with different names at their address did.

    The supervisor in the Disclosure Office told us it was unclear to her whether those permits also applied to the locksmiths we submitted.

    But as we reported back in February, many of the addresses listed in the phone books for unlicensed locksmiths either don’t exist, or are occupied by other unrelated businesses. Therefore it appears that any permits at those addresses would not belong to the locksmith.

    Neither the State Board of Equalization nor the State Controller’s office accepted our request for an interview for reaction to our findings. But the Board of Equalization did issue this written statement.

    “It’s very important for businesses to register with the state, so they can lawfully collect and report sales taxes. For that reason, we do outreach to business communities, and offer workshops for new business owners to explain their tax responsibilities.

    We also have a new team of staff going door to door throughout San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, making sure each business they visit is properly registered. We also maintain a hotline for people to anonymously report a business suspected of tax evasion. You can reach that line by calling 800-334-3300.

    There are penalties for knowingly operating without a permit. The basic penalty for late payment of taxes is 10%, but operating without a permit can land an even bigger fine: equal to 50% of the tax owed. So a business owner who operates for six months without a seller’s permit, and collects $3,000 in sales tax, will not only owe the back tax, but another penalty of $1,500.

    In some cases of tax evasion, there’s a lack of education and awareness. In others, people are actively evading their responsibilities. An estimated five percent of all businesses in the state operate without necessary seller’s permits. We do not have an estimate for sales tax figures related specifically to locksmiths.

    Generally speaking, locksmiths should register for seller’s permits, given that many repairs include materials that are taxable under California law. If a locksmith is found to be operating without a permit, the appropriate penalties will be levied.”

    Left unanswered by the Board of Equalization is what if anything will they do to go after the locksmiths without proper seller’s permits. Another issue, how do you go after these businesses if their address is unknown?

    Meantime, the locksmith license given by A1 San Bruno Locksmith, License number 658701, does belong to A-1 San Bruno Locksmith. But here’s the problem. The Department of Consumer Affairs tells us the license was cancelled following the recent death of the contractor. The Department says anyone using anyone else’s license is committing fraud, which is a criminal offense. It will be up to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office to determine whether any charges will be filed against A-1 San Bruno Locksmith.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 30, 2007
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    Verified customer

    Better Business Bureau Revokes Six Memberships KOTV - 5/29/2007 8:15 PM - Updated 5/30/2007 11:26 AM The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Oklahoma has decided to kick out a half-dozen of its members. The organization says the companies failed to meet its standards. The News On 6’s Chris Wright reports the Better Business Bureau usually revokes the membership of several companies every year, but says it has never booted this many at the same time.

    Better Business Bureau CEO, Rick Brinkley, says he doesn't take pride in eliminating businesses from his organization's ranks, but the rules are the rules.

    "It's not something we're real proud of when we have to revoke membership, but it's something that we do take a little bit of pride in the fact that we have a set of standards," said Brinkley.

    The Better Business Bureau claims that six companies violated those standards. They are Liberty Locksmith, John Waller and Company, American Exteriors L.L.C., Neighbors Construction, JM Construction and Jim Walter Homes. The violations vary from not responding to formal complaints, to false advertising. Brinkley says the organization had no choice but to get rid of all six.

    "We're pretty tight about our standards because when one company who is a Better Business Bureau member does something they're not supposed to do, or doesn't act like they're supposed to, it ends up giving all the members a bad name," Brinkley said.

    Brinkley says one of the most glaring violations was made by Liberty Locksmith. The company advertises in the phone book, listing several addresses and numbers. Liberty Locksmith lists nine locations throughout Green Country. The Better Business Bureau says all of them are vacant.

    Turns out the company is run out of New York, and subcontracts its calls to area locksmiths. Its listed addresses are all nonexistent. The Better Business Bureau says that is misleading advertising and hopes the expulsion of Liberty Locksmith's, and the other five companies, sends a message.

    "If you're not going to do business ethically, then you can't be a member of the Better Business Bureau," said Brinkley. The six companies have 30 days to appeal the Better Business Bureau's decision.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 09, 2007
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    Story By: Jace Verhoeven

    (TULSA, Okla.) May 23 – We’ve all been there, you lock your keys in the car. You might grab a phone book and look for a locksmith.

    The FOX23 Solving Problems Team shows you why that could cost you a lot more.

    When FOX23 got a tip about a locksmith company that might not be on the up and up, we investigated.

    The problem centers on the advertisement for Liberty Locksmith in some Tulsa area phonebooks.

    The ad claims its Tulsa’s most trusted locksmith and lists eight different phone numbers and addresses for locations all across Green Country. But we found out, the addresses don’t even exist.

    We went to all eight addresses in the ad, in Glenpool, Coweta, Sapulpa, Owasso, Sand Springs, Broken Arrow and Tulsa, not a single address matched a locksmith company.

    We went undercover and called Liberty Locksmith's Harvard location. The ad shows 1905 South Harvard, but while standing where 1905 South Harvard should be, we had to wait almost 30-minutes.

    A locksmith shows up, but it's not who we called. The number we called is actually a call center in New York, they contract most people to do their work.

    The locksmith works to successfully open our door and then asks for $55, telling us he's charging us more because we went through the call center. If we’d called him directly it would only have been $35.

    Rick Brinkley with Tulsa's Better Business Bureau says that's not illegal, but the BBB is still revoking Liberty Locksmith's membership, for another reason. “The problem the BBB has with this is that the advertising is very misleading to the customer. They think they are dealing with local businesses and they are just flat out lying to customers on where they are located.”

    Brinkley's advice for customers is: don't pay the extra money, instead call someone else so you aren't caught having to pay extra money just because you unknowingly called a company out of state.

    Just last week, Liberty Locksmith told our state's occupational licensing department that it agreed to remove any specific addresses in future telephone book advertisements.

    Liberty also told the state license agency that it will open an Oklahoma call center to dispatch local calls.

    The state agency plans to make sure the company follows its promise.

    FOX23 News did attempt to contact Liberty Locksmith but our phone calls were not returned.

    So what do you do if you need help finding a reputable business? Check with the Better Business Bureau at 492-1266 or click on links and reminders.

    0 Votes
  • Ta
    TAKEDOWNDEPENABLE Jun 14, 2007
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    a verified customer
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    Angry employees are ready to take this rotten company down! What can we do? Who will listen? Who will help?

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 17, 2007
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    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Consumers Can File a Complaint Against Phony Locksmiths from the ALOA Website

    The Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc. (ALOA), an international association of locksmith and physical security professionals expanded its website (www.aloa.org) so consumers can file a complaint against phony locksmiths directly to their state's Attorney General Consumer Protection Division. For those consumers who used the Internet to find a phony locksmith, they will be taken directly to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

    This is a great tool for consumers to fight back against these scam artists, says ALOA'ss Executive Director, Charles W. Gibson, Jr., CAE, We were asked by the state Attorneys General to help them identify consumers who have been defrauded. Being linked directly to their complaint procedure will ensure a quick response from the state's top law enforcement agency, and faster convictions for these unscrupulous companies.

    These phony locksmith companies purposely manipulate phone book and internet listings with multiple false addresses and phone numbers to make their companies seem like neighborhood businesses. In actuality, consumers are frequently calling out-of-state operations that are not locksmith companies. The consumer is quoted a reasonable price over the phone, but when a person posing as a locksmith finishes the job, the consumer is charged a considerable amount more for unnecessary and/or sub-standard work.

    The complaint heard most often by consumers is for car openings. The price quoted over the phone to stranded motorist is around $45. When the individual arrives and unlocks the car, he hands the motorist a bill for $135 - $150. This unscrupulous individual tells the frustrated consumer that the $45 was just the service call and that it was another $90 - $100 for servicing the lock. ALOA has record of a number of incidents of elderly consumers locked out of their homes and being charged $900 to $1700 to replace a $12 lock. These out-of-state operations are set up solely to make money by purposely defrauding the public.

    ALOA has also created a 10-point checklist for detecting a locksmith 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 ensure that 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 calling ALOA, (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'ss 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'st 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.

    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'ss largest organization for locksmiths and other physical security professionals. ALOA is dedicated to being the consumer'ss 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'ss 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.

    Contact:
    Tim McMullen, JD, CAE, Legislative Manager
    214-819-9733 x300
    tim(at)aloa.org

    0 Votes
  • Te
    Terry Sanford Jun 18, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    My 71 year old mother locked herself out of my house in New Jersey. She wanted to handle the problem herself, rather than bother me, and called "Dependable Locks" with their $39.00 service call. The surly "locksmith" showed up and couldn't pick the Schlage lock, so he had to drill it out. By the time he was done:

    Service Call - $39.00
    Unlock Door - $110.00
    New Deadbolt - $95.00
    Labor - $65.00
    Tax - $6.00
    Total Cost - $315.00

    He also broke the automatic door closer on my new storm door, which I had installed less than 2 weeks ago. I called to complain the same evening as the service. I got placed on hold 3 times and "accidentally" disconnected. I kept calling back and they finally said management would call me the following Monday. On Monday, I got a call from another customer service representative. They will not consider that they overcharged my mother. They will investigate my claim of the broken door, but I must submit photographs of the damage. I told them I'd send the entire broken unit to them, but that is not acceptable.

    These people are absolute crooks. I had my Medeco lock picked in Los Angeles for $65.00. I would have expected the price to double being in New Jersey, but not quadruple. Not to mention destroying my lock and damaging my storm door.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 20, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    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 specific door to talk to a manager. But no one ever answered. They then asked us to wait outside. 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, after 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 wouldn't 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
    LELAND IMM Jun 21, 2007
    This comment was posted by
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    Verified customer

    Johnny32 says

    (05/18/07) Worst place ever!!!

    I call this company and they are out of state (New York I think) The man I spoke with on the phone was rude and down right nasty. I would not want anyone to use them. Please be careful. I Would Not Recommend!

    nashvilleresident says

    (03/30/07) What a joke. Called to open my house the guy used a screw driver and a hammer and busted off my lock, then tried to charge me 200.00, called back to there office to find out they are from new york city, look out you will be taken by these people.

    iluvlucy423 says
    (03/05/07) Very rude. Do not even bother calling. I called to ask a simple question and the service professional hung up on me.

    jrct63 says

    (02/16/07) Stay Away! Look for Company's with Storefront locations.

    bettyrios says

    (02/14/07) Bad. This company is not in st joe let alone in Mo. I have read about these places. They rip people off. Say they will do something for one price than charge a much higher price. Stay away.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 21, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Always Ready Locksmith:

    The Better Business Bureau serving Metropolitan New York has received a number of recent complaints against Always Ready Locksmith, a company that operates under multiple names, addresses and phone numbers. This questionable operation encourages desperate consumers to call with multiple yellow page advertisements under names such as Millennium Locksmith, Brooklyn Locksmith, and Columbus One Locksmith.

    Consumers report to the BBB that Always Ready Locksmith overcharges for services in excess of $200. Consumers receive a low quote over the phone but when the repair man arrives to fix their locks, consumers are told that extra charges apply. These extra charges range in description from 'emergency fees' to 'replacement costs' to 'service charges'. Consumers allege that the company installs broken or low quality locks for upwards of $200. Consumers also report that they are charged but their locks are not fixed and in some cases their locks are damaged further. Complaints describe poor customer service including cases of customer service representatives cursing at, laughing at, threatening, and hanging up on consumers.

    The BBB discovered multiple advertisements for Always Ready Locksmith and its aliases that had been placed in the Yellow Pages of all New York City boroughs. When the BBB called the different phone numbers for the allegedly different locksmith businesses, the same person answered the phone each time, identifying the business as "Locksmith". Within the past year, 11 New York metro area consumers have filed complaints against Always Ready Locksmith. Four complaints were closed "disputed" as the consumer remains dissatisfied with the company's response. Always Ready Locksmith did not respond to two complaints and it currently has four pending complaints with the BBB.

    The BBB offers these tips on choosing a locksmith:

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

    Unclear Business Name. Look closely at the ad(s) in the yellow pages. Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does the ad look similar to other ads but have a different name? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names?

    Service Vehicle. Some legitimate locksmiths will work out of a car or unmarked van for quick jobs, but most should arrive in a service vehicle that is clearly marked with the name of the business.

    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. A legitimate locksmith should also provide you with identification in the form of a business card or invoice with the company name on it. Identifying information should also match the name on the service vehicle.

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

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

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

    RESEARCH / PARTICIPATE / REPORT A PROBLEM / privacy policy / find another BBB / contact us
    © 2006 Better Business Bureau Serving Metropolitan New York, Mid-Hudson and Long Island Regions
    design and technology by Blenderbox, Inc.

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 21, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Unlicensed Locksmiths May Be Evading Taxes & Pocketing Your Money
    Investigative reporting may sound glamorous to news viewers, but much of what we do is often tedious and time consuming.

    Earlier this year, our researchers looked up 2,300 hundred listings of San Francisco locksmiths in AT&T’s www.yellowpages.com. We then checked each listing to determine how many of those companies had licenses. The process took well over a month. We found out only about three percent had the proper license to legally operate as locksmiths in California. You can do your own license check of any locksmith you find by going to http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=7on_your_side&id=5079713.

    Last month, we then sent off the same list of locksmiths to the disclosure office of the California State Board of Equalization. We submitted a public records act request and asked them to determine if the locksmiths had proper seller’s permit. The permits allow the company to collect sales tax on behalf of the state.

    After weeks of time consuming research by the staff of the Board of Equalization, we compiled the information they gave us into a spread sheet. We found out that only 7 percent of the San Francisco locksmiths listed in www.yellowpages.com definitely had permits. Another 17 and a half percent did not have seller’s permits under their name, but businesses with different names at their address did.

    The supervisor in the Disclosure Office told us it was unclear to her whether those permits also applied to the locksmiths we submitted.

    But as we reported back in February, many of the addresses listed in the phone books for unlicensed locksmiths either don’t exist, or are occupied by other unrelated businesses. Therefore it appears that any permits at those addresses would not belong to the locksmith.

    Neither the State Board of Equalization nor the State Controller’s office accepted our request for an interview for reaction to our findings. But the Board of Equalization did issue this written statement.

    “It’s very important for businesses to register with the state, so they can lawfully collect and report sales taxes. For that reason, we do outreach to business communities, and offer workshops for new business owners to explain their tax responsibilities.

    We also have a new team of staff going door to door throughout San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, making sure each business they visit is properly registered. We also maintain a hotline for people to anonymously report a business suspected of tax evasion. You can reach that line by calling 800-334-3300.

    There are penalties for knowingly operating without a permit. The basic penalty for late payment of taxes is 10%, but operating without a permit can land an even bigger fine: equal to 50% of the tax owed. So a business owner who operates for six months without a seller’s permit, and collects $3,000 in sales tax, will not only owe the back tax, but another penalty of $1,500.

    In some cases of tax evasion, there’s a lack of education and awareness. In others, people are actively evading their responsibilities. An estimated five percent of all businesses in the state operate without necessary seller’s permits. We do not have an estimate for sales tax figures related specifically to locksmiths.

    Generally speaking, locksmiths should register for seller’s permits, given that many repairs include materials that are taxable under California law. If a locksmith is found to be operating without a permit, the appropriate penalties will be levied.”

    Left unanswered by the Board of Equalization is what if anything will they do to go after the locksmiths without proper seller’s permits. Another issue, how do you go after these businesses if their address is unknown?

    Meantime, the locksmith license given by A1 San Bruno Locksmith, License number 658701, does belong to A-1 San Bruno Locksmith. But here’s the problem. The Department of Consumer Affairs tells us the license was canceled following the recent death of the contractor. The Department says anyone using anyone else’s license is committing fraud, which is a criminal offense. It will be up to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office to determine whether any charges will be filed against A-1 San Bruno Locksmith.

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    Comments
    THESE PHONY LOCKSMITHS ARE HURTING ARE LOCKSMITHS INDUSTRY. THIS HAS TO STOP.

    We in Florida have been fighting these scammers but no major state offices will take our case can you help in any way.

    Posted by: jason | May 25, 2007 at 07:35 AM

    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 protected]

    Click here to view the Phony Locksmith Press Room with various reports of Phony Locksmiths The Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc. (ALOA) announces a new tagline in support of the professionals it represents. This effort is part of ALOA'ss commitment to reach and educate the general public on the locksmithing/access control industry and the true professionals who represent their industry.

    The new tagline Locksmiths You Can Trust has been incorporated into the ALOA logo as a symbol that the public can easily identify with. A symbol which represents locksmiths with the highest ideals and standards committed to the professionalism of the locksmithing/access control industry.

    With the recent media attention given to the issue of phony locksmiths, ALOA recognized that this was an ideal opportunity for ALOA to provide the public with a branded symbol that they can identify with when they are selecting a locksmith/access control professional to enter their automobiles, home and businesses. This symbol represents over 8,000 members who have submitted to background checks and who have agreed to abide by the ALOA Code of Ethics.

    For more information about Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc., visit the ALOA website at www.aloa.org or contact ALOA at 214-819-9733.

    ALOA - the largest international not for profit organization for locksmiths and physical security professionals - offers legislative support, education, industry certification, tradeshow, business products and services and publishers of Keynotes an award winning publication to more than 8,000 global members--ALOA leads the way for advanced and improved security performance.

    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 protected]

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 21, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    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 specific door to talk to a manager. But no one ever answered. They then asked us to wait outside. 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, after 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 wouldn't 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.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jun 29, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Update: Unlicensed Locksmith In San Mateo County JailFour Months After ABC7 Gouging Investigation
    By Michael Finney

    SAN BRUNO, Calif., Jun. 28, 2007 (KGO) - An unlicensed locksmith accused of gouging customers and preying on the vulnerable is in a San Mateo county jail tonight.

    The arrest of the locksmith by the San Bruno Police Department comes just four months after our hidden cameras caught him in action in an undercover sting. 29-year-old Moshe Mizrachi is being held on $25,000 dollars bail in Redwood City. Police believe he works for the same company accused of leaving a gaping hole in a San Bruno woman's front door.

    He's also the same person seen in our hidden camera video and identified by a Santa Clara county woman, as the locksmith who charged her $3,000 dollars to change nine locks, and he's the same locksmith identified by this San Francisco man as the one who bilked him for $5,000 dollars just to change one lock.

    Janet Chung was the landlord who had to foot the bill. Janet Chung, San Francisco: "We're starting to get closure on this. It's been a while. Slow process, so I'm pretty happy about the arrest." San Bruno police say Mizrachi's latest victim is an 86-year-old woman. Authorities say he billed her $1,500 dollars for one lock. Lt. Marc Catalano, San Bruno Police: "We are actively seeking charges of elder abuse, and obtaining money under false pretenses."

    Up to now, Mizrachi has refused to answer any questions about his business practices and rates.

    ABC7's Michael Finney: What kind of training do you have? What kind of license do you have? $900 dollars to replace a lock? You weren't even here an hour. Come on lets talk about this. You're a legitimate business man, let's have a talk." He'll now have to answer to a court of law. Most local authorities don't give consumer scams a high priority, not San Bruno police.

    Lt Marc Catalano, San Bruno Police: "Anytime we find a victim whether its elderly or anybody, it is a felony if the value is over $400 dollars so we take these pretty seriously." Right now, Mizrachi is only facing charges in San Bruno, and not for any of his other alleged abuses.

    Janet Chung, San Francisco: "We'd also like to see the different agencies that we've been working with utilize what they've been put in power to do to help us."

    Those other authorities would be the San Francisco district attorney's office and the department of consumer affairs. Authorities have tied Mizrachi to two companies -- believed to be one and the same -- USA A1 locksmith and A1 San Bruno Locksmith. Those companies have not been charged.

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    BBB Warns Consumers of Nationwide Locksmith Swindle
    You may have been a victim and not even know it.
    For Immediate Release

    Arlington, VA – July 10, 2007 – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) today 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 like ‘Dependable Locksmith’ but in reality they exploit the vulnerable situation of consumers who are locked out of their house or car,” said Steve Cox spokesperson for the BBB System. “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 U.S. 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. A consumer 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 from Cleveland, OH, where Dependable Locksmith 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, which 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 – feeling unsafe the victim 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 cancelled 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.

    Liberty Locksmith had been a BBB member in Tulsa, OK, but during normal BBB member validation processes, it was discovered that the addresses provided by the company were false. In June 2007, the BBB terminated the membership of Liberty Locksmith for providing false information in its membership application and providing misleading advertisements to the public.

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

    “These companies are very good at posing as trustworthy locksmiths,” said Mr. Cox. “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.

    # # #
    About the BBB System

    BBB is an unbiased, non-profit entity that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses and charities that earn BBB membership contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business Reliability Reports and charity Wise Giving Reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 128 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 3 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.

    # # #

    Reporters and journalists may contact Steve Cox, CBBB's Vice President, Communications, or call 703.276.0100 to request an interview or additional information.
    If you are a consumer who is seeking additional information, or need assistance with a complaint against a business, please contact your local BBB, visit the BBB web site (www.bbb.org) or call 703.276.0100.


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