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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

  • Tk
    TKtucson Aug 07, 2014

    The city doesn't have to follow the same rules as the rest of us, this place just sucks and I will never come here again willingly. The city rule makers make decisions to help themselves not us, again if you live in the city I would get out of the high tax no return on your money. No pic necessary, look how things are geared around the downtown area.

    0 Votes
  • Da
    danny222 Nov 11, 2009

    next time call a real locksmith .
    if everybody told you $120 - $150 ( night ) its common to charge more at night .
    A person that works after hours get paid more Dhhh
    and one company give you a rate of $55
    how can you think that it make any sense.

    0 Votes
  • Ci
    City Lock Jul 23, 2009
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    The trouble with AAA is that even when they know you need a locksmith, they send a tow truck anyway.

    The service varies from the best to the worst, depending on the region, weather and other factors.

    Your own auto insurance already does cover roadside assistance, in most cases, double check your policy.

    Then find a good locksmith in your area that has a shop you can visit.

    Bring them your toughest job, or a key noone else can do, like a transpodner car key.

    If they do a good job at a fair price, put a business card on your fridge, in your wallet and at office.

    If out of town, you can contact any HOTEL CONCEIERGE, CAR RENTAL AGENCY, etc...
    and ask who THEY use in the local area.

    I am sorry you got burned, but you have the power of the web, which is the power to check people out, in advance.

    Try www.legallocksmiths.com, a clearing house for action on this very issue!!!


    Jeff
    City Lock

    0 Votes
  • Ka
    Kalena Jun 02, 2009

    What a rip off...I would suggest any one who needs a locksmith to join and Auto Club such as AAA. Many of the services are covered under your membership. For under $60.00 you also get 4 service calls and towing within 5 miles. Why pay $200.00 for a lockout? That is absolutely absurd.

    0 Votes
  • Al
    Allan Sep 11, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I just sent my complaint and I want to say that happend today in Maryland. I can give you locksmith Name. I feel like he is bad guy. You'd better not to work with him !

    0 Votes
  • Al
    Allan Sep 11, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I got a service from Dependable Locks Inc. company this evening, and the service was terrible.

    When I called service center, the repsentative said it would be $55. However,

    when the Locksmith got here to open my car, he charged $100. he said " I am the owner of this

    company, and your car has special lock system". So, the price shoul be more, it will be around

    $100. Right after he opened my car, price was changed again, and he charged $148.

    I realized ttoday that many locksmith tells a lie to make money from people.

    Everyone MUSTY consider again if you need a locksmith. This company's service is not that good !!!

    1. He asked my driver licence and registration, and did not give me back until he open my car.

    -> Locksmith should give back people's ID and registration right after he check up Picture and Name.

    2. He said "Your car has special door lock system, so Price should go up"

    -> He told a lie to me ! My car is 1999 Nissan Altima, and he opened within 1 minute !
    and I do not have any special door lock system.

    3. He said "We have a door lock insurance in case your car has damage when I open"

    -> He told a lie again - When I asked insurance company, he could not give me the policy number.

    4. He said " I am the Boss, I can give a small discount, I owe the company"

    -> I do not understand how many bosses are working for this company, I don't believe he is the Boss of

    that company, he just want to take money from people !!!


    I want to say this : This company's SERVICE IS NOT GOOD !!!

    0 Votes
  • Al
    Allan Sep 11, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I agree with the above comments.
    The guy from the office said he would charge me $54, but it ends up with $148.
    DON'T EVER TRY TO USE THE COMPANY

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 31, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    FTC Urges Consumers to Use Caution When Seeking a Locksmith

    Posted: 12:59 PM May 30, 2008
    Last Updated: 12:59 PM May 30, 2008
    Reporter: From the Federal Trade Commission
    FTC Urges Consumers to Use Caution When Seeking a Locksmith
    If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your car or home, you know what a hassle it can be. Your first thought is to get someone to help. And if that someone ¬– a family member, neighbor or friend – can’t deliver a spare set of keys, your next call probably is to a local locksmith.

    What’s the best way to pick a reputable – and local – locksmith? Do the research before you need one – the same way you would a plumber, electrician, or other professional – and then program his or her number into your phone. That’s one of several useful tips from the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, in ‘The Keys to Hiring a Reputable Locksmith.’

    The FTC says that some locksmiths advertising in your local phone book may not be local at all, and that others may not have professional training. Find out how to hire a legitimate local locksmith at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt032.shtm.
    The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP [protected]); TTY: [protected]. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 28, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Usa Locksmith Charged over $700 for 2 simple locks! Atlanta Georgia
    Usa Locksmith
    Phone: [protected]
    Fax:
    usalocksmiths.com
    Atlanta, Georgia,
    U.S.A.
    Submitted: 5/28/2008 3:34:58 PM
    Modified: 5/28/2008 3:35:00 PM
    Mary
    Alpharetta, Georgia
    I called to replace a regular lock with a turn-button on the knob. When the locksmiths arrived, they said their names were 'Johnny' and 'Tom', but had no ID or last names.
    They advised me to put in a deadbolt, and I asked the charge, but they were evasive. I went ahead with a regular lock and a deadbolt, continuing to ask the cost. I also told them I wanted normal locks that wouldn't add to the cost, and they agreed to that. When the work was done (keying locks also to match present keys--I think the charge for that was huge) they presented me with a bill for $700 and ran my VISA through their system. The invoice had no name or address on it. I wanted them out of the house because there were 3 of them and only my daughter and I at home, so I let them go. When I called the company I got the royal run-around. After 4 different calls, I got no response. Someone named Richard Lawson was supposed to call back, but of course never did.
    Mary
    Alpharetta, Georgia
    U.S.A.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM May 04, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Dependable Locks Inc.
    Phone: [protected]
    Fax:
    295 W. 231 St.
    Bronx, New York, 10463
    U.S.A.
    Submitted: 5/3/2008 10:12:01 PM
    Modified: 5/3/2008 10:12:00 PM
    Alfonzo
    Chesterfield, Missouri
    I've been ripped off!
    I called this company and asked for someone to provide the free estimate for changing the locks on my house. I received a phone call from someone I couldn't understand as I don't speak Russian, he stated in broken English that he would be late in arriving, late by a half hour. When he arrived one and a half hours later he didn't understand what I wanted when I told him that I wanted the locks changed and I wanted everything keyed alike. He had six lock cylinders to change so that they would accept new keys and keyed them alike for the price of $244.00. He indicated that the job was done and asked for payment. When I went to get my checkbook he stopped me and said, 'We dunt taka da chics.' and proceeded to ask for my credit card whereupon he took out his pencil and rubbed the sales slip over the embosed numbers with the side of the graphite pencil. He also asked be to sign the waiver of the 3 day right to cancel the sale. Should have been my Red Flag!
    I asked for a key to each lock (6) and he responded by saying I only get 2. If I want more they are $5.00 each. As it was late, nearly 10pm! I said, 'I'll get some made myself.' he left. I was never asked to inspect his work or check the locks. Upon leaving for work the next day I noticed the damage to the door, the paint and the fact that one of the lower cylinders was mounted upside down, an inconvienence when you have an arm full of groceries. So, I called them back. They scheduled the installer to return but he never showed. I suggest you never call Dependable Lock Inc. btw: I believe they are only a broker and hire at will whomever they can get to go to the calling customer.

    Alfonzo
    Chesterfield, Missouri
    U.S.A.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Apr 24, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Locksmith Company Investigated
    Wednesday, Apr 23, 2008 - 09:49 AM Updated: 06:07 PM
    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The following is an exact transcript of NBC 4's investigative report, exactly as it was shown on NBC 4 at 6 p.m. on April 24, 2008.
    ANCHOR: It can be a time of desperation. You're locked out of your car or your home and you need help.
    You wouldn't expect a locksmith to take advantage of your vulnerability, but you might be surprised about a complaint we investigated. Target 4's Patrick Preston investigates.
    PRESTON: "It's $80 total. Can you do it for $54?" Preston said.
    You're witnessing a locksmith adjusting his price. Thirty minutes ago, his company quotes us on the phone at at least $54.
    PRESTON: "$39 just to come out and $15 to just unlock the doors?"
    Now on the scene, Gal Ben Haim says the price to unlock this vehicle is actually $80. The extra $26 is like an insurance policy, in case he breaks something.
    HAIM: "We can do a mistake. Maybe something, we can break. Not our fault, but we can make damage."
    $80 seems high if you're expecting to pay less, but not to Bill Palmer.
    PALMER: "I wasn't thinking. I just shut the doors and there was my keys."
    The temperature outside was 20 degrees the morning Palmer locked his keys in his pickup truck.
    He turned to the locksmith with the biggest ad in the phone book. A half-hour later, he found out how the company could afford the ad, when they showed him a bill for $149.
    PALMER: "I told the guy, 'Hey man, this is ridiculous.'"
    DON HOTT, owner of Worthington Locksmith: "In all the years I've been doing this, I have never charged anybody that kind of price, " said Don Hott.
    The Better Business Bureau says complaints about locksmiths overcharging customers are common and the company most often cited in the U.S. -- New York-based Dependable Locksmith.
    But you won't find Dependable Locksmith's name in this ad. In fact, you won't find any name, which seems to be the way Dependable Locksmith likes it.
    PRESTON: "You can't tell us anything about the company?"
    Three times we called Dependable Locksmith for answers. And each time, the out-of-state phone operator refused to connect us to a company representative.
    PRESTON: "Whoever you'd give the message to, I've left my name and number with you twice now."
    They never did return our calls.
    JOAN COUGHLIN, BBB: "They'll advertise locally in the yellow pages in communities all over the country under fake names, fake addresses."
    Coughlin said customers who think they're calling a local locksmith are really getting a New York call center. The BBB issued a consumer warning against Dependable Locksmith and the dozens of aliases they use, including Superb Solutions, which the attorney general's office sued in 2006 for deceiving Cuyahoga County customers. The company was fined -- but Dependable continues to operate in Ohio, aided by the lack of a licensing requirement for locksmiths.
    PALMER: "I was in a bad situation and they took advantage of it."
    Back on West Broad Street, Palmer reluctantly agreed to pay the $149 to get out of cold and into his truck. But he could have got a better deal with the same company.
    LAUREN SCHMOLL, NBC 4 employee: "So, $39 for you to come out and unlocking it is actually $45?"
    We sent an NBC 4 employee to the same location where Palmer was locked out. Dependable Locksmith quoted her a price of at least $54 on the phone. They charged her $84. Then we came back, to see if the price would change again.
    Again, a meaningless $54 quote. A bill for $80. But when we question the extra costs, the employee agrees to lower the price to $60.
    PRESTON: "I don't think you're going to break it."
    EMPLOYEE: "How do you pay?"
    PRESTON: "I'm sorry."
    EMPLOYEE: "How do you pay? In cash?"
    PRESTON: "I've got cash."
    EMPLOYEE: "You pay cash?"
    PRESTON: "Yeah."
    EMPLOYEE: "We can do this."
    Moments later, (the employee) spots our camera and we explain our efforts to contact his company by phone and now in person. He tells us employees are on commission and change the prices.
    PRESTON: "How is it possible that one of your customers got charged $84 (and) another of your customers was charged $149?"
    EMPLOYEE: "I don't know, my friend. I only work there. This is my price, what I charge. What other guys charge, God knows."
    PRESTON: "If you had charged me $80, the extra $20 would have gone to you?"
    EMPLOYEE: "Not exactly."
    PRESTON: "How would that have worked? Would you have had to lose $20 if you only charged me $60?"
    Gal Ben Haim refused to give us a way to contact his supervisors. Instead, he told us to check the phone book for locksmith service.
    That's where we found a different dependable alias -- Locksmith 24 Hour Inc. -- listed with several local addresses. But we didn't find any locksmith shops. Two of the addresses led us to restaurants.
    The BBB advises customers to research a locksmith before they need one. Warning signs include an unwillingness to give out information about the company, including where they're located.
    Worthington Locksmith owner Don Hott said most reputable locksmiths drive marked cars with the company's name on the side. Dependable Locksmith employees use unmarked cars.
    Most locksmiths support licensing to weed out the bad seeds. The statehouse has passed a bill that would require locksmiths to be licensed.
    It's now being considered by a Senate committee chaired by Upper Arlington Sen. Steve Stivers.
    ANCHOR: Here's another money-saving tip, you can call AAA, make a credit card payment for $74. AAA will come unlock your car and give you a one-year basic membership. That year-long membership includes up to three additional service requests at no additional charge.

    0 Votes
  • Je
    Jesse Maison Apr 18, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I googled "Dependable locks", and this site came up. I live in Southern California, and had a very similar experience. The guy was late, demanded cash, and had a Star Of David hanging from his mirror. He drove me to the bank, I withdrew the cash and paid him. He took off as soon as I handed him the money, and I had to walk home.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Mar 25, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Dependable Locks Caused $1000 damage to my car's ignition Seattle Washington
    Dependable Locks
    Phone: [protected]
    Fax:
    Seattle, WA 98133
    Seattle, Washington,
    U.S.A.
    Submitted: 3/25/2008 12:47:47 AM
    Lori
    Kent, Washington
    I called out dependable locks because my key was stuck in my ignition. He said that the success rate was close to 90% that he could fix it without problems. It took several hours for him to arrive, he showed up in an unmarked car and the price was different from what I had been quoted on the phone but because I was desperate to not leave the key in the ignition over night I allowed him to do the work. It was already 10p. He took advantage of my situation.

    It became apparent rather quickly I was gonna be that 10%. He had troubles getting the key out from the start, he had to take apart my entire ignition housing to get the key to come loose and he took it apart 3 times!! My husband mentioned that the lights were still on even with the key free from the ignition, he didn't seem to give it a second thought.

    He told me repeatedly there was nothing wrong with my ignition, there was nothing shaking or rattling around in it and that all I probably needed was a key which he could not do because it was a dealer's key and only the dealer could make it for me.

    The key would come from free from the ignition BUT the key would not go all the way in, the car would start and turn off as normal but in all of this and messing around inside my steering column he messed up the wiring. By the next day the battery was dead because the lights didn't know they were on. I had to have it towed to the dealer because even a jump wouldn't start it.

    The dealer found that the ignition had been completely destroyed and in order to determine that they had to fix a wire inside the steering column to even get the car to start, not the kind of wire that just falls loose.

    I called Dependable Locks on many occasions trying to fix the problem only to be told that it wasn't their problem, I or the dealer caused the damage. My dealer made many attempts to fax the information to them on the damage with no regard from them. I was told they hadn't received it repeatedly. My dealer even kept the fax reports that the fax went through successfully. I was finally told that they would not pay a dime of the costs because it wasn't the locksmiths fault who came out to service the car.
    His account of that night didn't include all the messing around he had to do inside my steering column and that the key wouldn't go all the way back in. He also didn't make an issue of the fact that he was told the lights wouldn't go off. He presented it to his company as if it was a normal call with no problems.

    Lora
    Kent, Washington
    U.S.A.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Feb 26, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Emergency locksmith companies can gouge you when you are most vulnerable
    Release Date: 2008-02-25

    Better Business Bureau Says Jacked-Up Prices Can Leave You Out In The Cold
    Wallingford, CT – February 25, 2008 – If you have ever locked yourself out of your home or car, then you know the feeling of relief when a locksmith shows up. But Better Business Bureau warns that emergency locksmith companies sometimes take advantage of people in such situations by adding charges --- sometimes four times as high as quoted over the telephone.

    Better Business Bureau files say it is a common practice:
    Someone gets locked out of their car, calls a locksmith and is quoted $39.00 for the service.

    In the case of a Florence, KY woman, however, a company charged not only $39.00, but also an additional $110.00 for a total of $149.00, payable on the spot, a far cry from their original quote. The company she called, “Always Ready,” was, in fact, a company called “Dependable Locksmith,” operating out of the Bronx, NY.

    Better Business Bureau says the Kentucky woman’s experience is common and issued a warning about what it calls a “Nationwide Locksmith Swindle” involving “Dependable Locksmith.”

    “Dependable,” which BBB says operates under more than a dozen names, has an unsatisfactory record with 160 complaints in the last 12 months, for a total of more than 220 in the last 36 months.

    Another scam involves locksmiths who recommend the installation of high-security locks and then turn around and install sub-standard locks.

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

    They're not forthcoming about where they're located. They quote you a price and dispatch one of their representatives in your area.

    To prevent becoming a victim of the locksmith swindle, Better Business Bureau recommends:

    1. When you call a locksmith look for an ad with a local address.
    2. Ask where their office is located.
    3. Be wary of servicemen in unmarked cars, who don't wear uniforms or present identification.
    4. Finally, ask if there may be extra charges, so you don’t end up with a bill you cannot afford.

    It is better to find a reliable locksmith before you need one. You may either visit out web site www.bbb.org, or call us at [protected] extension 2.

    Website Link: http://www.bbb.org

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Feb 23, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Undercover Locksmith Investigation

    Reported by: John Matarese

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

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

    The Common Complaint

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

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

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

    The Escalating $39 Charge

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

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

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

    She was furious, telling me "I feel like they were misleading and deceptive!"

    In addition, her receipt shows that "Always Ready" was really a company called "Dependable Locksmith" out of the Bronx, New York!

    What the BBB Files Say

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

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

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

    We go Undercover

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

    The phone rep quoted her $39: Sound familiar?

    As we rolled our hidden camera...a man in an unmarked SUV soon pulled up. But he had some bad news : It would cost her another 110 dollars.

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

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

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

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

    What You Can Do

    So don't let this happen to you:

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

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

    The state of Illinois has pulled "Dependable's" license to practice in that state.

    And former Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro filed suit against a Cleveland area locksmith called "Superb Solutions' ....that the BBB report says was just another name for "Dependable Locksmith" out of New York. That case is still pending.
    So ask questions and Don't Waste your Money. I'm John Matarese.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Feb 18, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Locked Out And Ripped Off?
    Amanda Pavlik
    It's a warning everyone needs to know about before you find yourself in an emergency situation, locked out of your car or home. It's happened to many of us at one time or another.

    While there's no doubt most locksmiths are reputable and provide you the rescue you need, the Better Business Bureau says it's receiving a growing number of complaints about companies that have customers paying a lot more than they bargained for. It leaves folks saying they're being swindled and in some cases robbed by locksmiths.

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

    They're not forthcoming about where they're located. They quote you a price and dispatch one of their representatives in your area.

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

    She says the scammers know how to take advantage of the vulnerable situation of folks who are locked out of their houses or cars.

    The locksmith industry is aware of these questionable companies and is warning that people aren't just being overcharged.

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

    Locksmith Jason Gage is outraged these companies are giving his business a bad name.

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

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

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

    If you're looking for a locksmith, the Association of Locksmiths of America says it can make recommendations for a reputable company in your neighborhood.
    Story Created: Feb 18, 2008 at 5:28 PM EST

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Feb 06, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Undercover Locksmith Investigation

    Last Update: 8:05 pm

    Reported by: John Matarese

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

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

    The Common Complaint

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

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

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

    The Escalating $39 Charge

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

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

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

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

    What the BBB Files Say

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    What You Can Do

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

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

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

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

    0 Votes
  • Al
    Al Gancayco Jan 30, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    The same modus operandi is going on as I write in the Los Angeles , South Bay cities area in California. I have complained to AT&T Smart yellow pages .com of these phoney listings and they said are cleaning their data base of such listings, but then they are popping up at local.com and starting little by little in Verizon Super Pages.com again with the same names as follows "24 hour Locksmiths," "24/7 Locksmiths," "A Emergency Locksmiths," and " Always Ready Locksmiths."A O A Locksmith, A 01 Locksmith A-1 24 Hour Locksmith, A-1 Lock & Key Locksmith and AAA Locksmith 24 Hour, USA A1 locksmith, Locksmith 24 Hour Inc., USA Total Security not only on the internet and so with the AT&T South Bay Area, Airport Area,Los Angeles Business Area; Verison yellow pages phone directories in LA California.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 18, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    January 17,2008

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

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

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

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

    Carol only had forty extra dollars, which he took.

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

    Some locksmiths sound legit and use local numbers and addresses.

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

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

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

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

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

    Then he reduced it to a flat $100.

    "Usually only cash," said the locksmith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    0 Votes
  • Tj
    T.J. King Jan 09, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    ....(there are rarely any locks other than Medeco that cannot be picked by a competent locksmith), ....
    -----------------------------

    This is not true. I have worked as a professional locksmith for over 30 years. Many common locks esp. a new SCHLAGE 6 pin lock is very difficult to pick and its not practical to spend more than 10 to 15 minutes attempting to pick a lock.

    As to the Compaint in this post. It all goes to the legal right to contract between 2 parties.

    IF the locksmith quoted $55 over the phone to enter the property (OR IMPLYED IT - BY not telling the customer that there would be other charges in addition to the $55 service call) THEN the locksmith in question committed DECEPTIVE SALES PRACTICES and should be SUED and run out of business.

    HOWEVER, IF the locksmith quoted a $55 service charge to come out plus whatever the technition has to do; then the COMPLAINT is not valid as the consumer AGREED to the terms as quoted prior to the locksmith being dispatched out.

    I will tell you that I am the owner of a reputable locksmith firm and we always quote home lockouts as " $xx Service charge to dispatch a truck plus time and materials used." We then require the service charge pre-paid on a credit card prior to truck dispatch.

    AT LEAST 1 OUT OF 20 times (5% of the time), the customer will complain about any addtional charges above the service charge. The folks who complain always say that no body told them that there would be additional charges. I feel that 90% of the time the consumer honestly feels that we never told them about the extra charges... its very possible that when these folks call in they are very upset about being locked out and forced to pay for an unexpected expense. In this state of mind, they only 'hear' what they want to hear and focus on the amount of the service charge and wrongly believe that this is the only thing they will be charged for. In short, they are suffering from an attention-deficit problem; and don't factor in the words "plus additional amounts" into the price that they agree to over the phone.

    Now, we are LOCKSMITHS, not MIND-READERS. When we offer our terms over the phone and a consumer agrees; then the legal 'contract' is the verbal offer as spoken.

    The other 10% of the time is customers who want to DEFRAUD the locksmith by playing HEAD GAMES, and pretending that they were not told about the additional charges.

    OUR SOLUTION THAT HAS WORKED FOR 30+ YEARS:

    When we arrive, before doing any work, we fully explain all the terms once again to the customer and have them agree again.

    If they don't, we leave and don't charge em anything. This happened 1 time. As a result we have never been sued and enjoy a lot of goodwill in our community. Even the local police station refers customers to use us for lockout situations.

    Best of Luck to everyone, consumers and locksmiths alike.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 03, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Janury 3,2008 Two locksmiths have agreed to change their advertising practices after the state Department of Consumer Protection said they were misleading consumers into thinking they operated from numerous business locations in Connecticut when they did not.

    Liberty Locksmith, of Orange, and Champion Locksmith, of Jackson Heights, N.Y., had placed ads in Connecticut telephone directories listing several business locations, including places such as Stamford, Middletown and West Hartford.

    Neither company was in any of those places, a violation of the state's unfair trade practice laws, Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. said Thursday.




    Although the companies did not admit any violations of law, they agreed under an agreement reached with the state that all of their advertising and solicitation must clearly identify the addresses where their businesses are located.

    The companies are also prohibited from misrepresenting their business locations in any telephone book.

    Each company also paid a $500 fine.

    From staff reports

    More articles

    Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jan 02, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Good Morning America| World News| 20/20| Primetime| Nightline| This Week| ABC News Now| i-Caught Wednesday, January 02, 2008 Register | Sign In Home| News Brief| World| U.S.| Investigative| Politics| Money| Health| Entertainment| ESPN Sports| SciTech| Law| Travel| More Search
    Home > GMA
    Nationwide 'Locksmith Swindle,' Says Better Business Bureau
    Consumer Complaints Are on the RiseFont Size

    E-mail
    Print
    Share One of the companies was called Priceline. It's the same company whose locksmith reportedly victimized Miller. Court papers list the president of Priceline as Gillad Gill. The Better Business Bureau lists Gill as the owner of Dependable.


    Related Stories
    Locksmith 'Mafia' & Can't-Refuse EstimatesTop GMA stories
    Huckabee Attack Ad All Over Internet, CableKids on the Campaign TrailAvalanche Fears Loom Over the West
    When ABC News reached Gill on his cell phone in Israel, he told us he no longer is in the business. And when ABC News asked him how much he made in the business, he said, "Well, you're surely not welcome to know that kind of information. But I wish I would have made some money."


    Dependable's Response

    In a statement, an attorney who represents Dependable told ABC News, Dependable is a separate company with no connections to the operation Gill ran. He added, Dependable tries to run a clean business, with written estimates, written approvals and no fictitious addresses.


    Dependable is moving its main call center to Florida, and its attorney said the company has set up a special consumer complaint department there. Still, the Better Business Bureau blasted Dependable's "unsatisfactory" business record at the close of 2007. The Better Business Bureau said Dependable has 51 pending complaints and 87 others to which the company never responded.


    "We believe that the number of complaints we've received are just a small sliver of the larger problem," Preszler said.



    How to Tell Whether You're Dealing With a Scammer

    There are several ways to protect yourself and your money from dishonest locksmiths.


    Warning signs include:



    They answer the phone by just saying locksmith.
    They won't tell you their exact address.
    They're evasive when you ask questions.



    You can protect yourself by finding a professional locksmith near you before you ever need one. Program the number into your phone. Also, get a written estimate before the locksmith does any work.

    Nationwide 'Locksmith Swindle,' Says Better Business Bureau - Continued
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    0 Votes
  • Aa
    Aaron Sands Jan 02, 2008
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I don't agree with many of the charges some of these "locksmiths" billed clients but consumers need to know a few things. There are many locks that cannot be picked and there is not locksmith that I know who has not drilled a lock because picking it failed. Medeco, Multilock, Miwa, Assa, some schlage series locks and even the new kwikset smart series lock sold at home depot cannot be picked to name a few. If you call a locksmith after certain evening hours, early morning hours, or weekends you will be charged $20-$50 more on the service call. To take a lock out or reinstall a new lock for more than $5-$8 after drilling it is a ripoff to me. Another thing is that when someone calls a locksmith and attempts to describe the problem they fall short of giving the proper information to price the call simply because they themselves are not locksmiths. When on scene the locksmith in some cases realizes that the job will take more time or materials. A grade 2 lock for $45-$55 is average and reasonable as well. Take a look at other agencies before you point a finger at locksmiths but I must admit those Dependable locksmith guys give locksmiths a bad name.

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

    A Locksmith. Usa Fastest Locksmith, Will tell you one price then hit you with higher figures after the work is done, forgery creditcard fraud Atlanta, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach Georgia , Florida

    Usa Fastest Locksmith, A Locksmith
    Phone: [protected]
    Fax:
    2526 Mt. Vernin Rd.#304 Dunwoody. Ga 30338
    Atlanta, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Georgia, 30338
    U.S.A.

    Submitted: 12/21/2007 10:38:44 PM

    Tonygambino
    lighthouse point, Florida

    My wife and I needed our locks changed. We called in the yellow pages A Locksmith. come to find out there main office is in Atlanta, we life in Pompano Beach FL area. On the phone they said customer satisfaction is top notch and there prices are very competitive.
    A young man showed up at the house ( I wsnt home from work yet) told my wife the price would be around 150-200 bucks. She says 'no problem, let me call another locksmith in the area to make sure this is around the same amount they charge so to protect us from getting ripped off. He became upset and told her 'trust me I'll treat youy right' 'but if you decide not to use me, I'm going to charge you $50 for the show up cost. When my wife called the other locksmith, he told her $150. and my wife relayed the info to the locksmith. He says'no prob Ill do it for the same amount.
    Well, when he was done I drove into the situation and my wife was upset, saying to the locksmith 'you told me $150'? He was getting loud and I jumped in and asked what was going on, my wife explained the issue. I then jumped on the phone and called anothere locksmith and again was told $150 by this other company. The bill that 'A locksmith' gave us??? $349.17. Of course I went nutts.
    I told him Im not signing this and called the police, they came, we told them what happend and after 1 hour the service man told us $200. after this big big issue. We call the credit card company and guess what? they put the $349.17 through. I was pissed. We told the card company what had accured. Then I called 'A Locksmith' and told them what happend they said the locksmith didnt' say anything to them and wouldn't help us. They were nasty on the phone aswell. About 5 min later the same tech that was at our house called and denied the $200 and said he has a signed sig of my wife at the $349.
    Heres what they did. before the left they gave me 2 invoices one for 200 and one for 349, the invoice for $200?was invoice # 1040 and the one for $349? was invoice 1041. after the cops left he made a new invoice which was carbon copy (the original one), that was not signed lol (###) and claimed he had a yellow copy of this. So not only did they 'high gross' us, they put a fraudulant unauthorized charge threw, and forged our signature.
    I then called the police again, and told them what happend. They were floored that they did this. So they siad they will 100% back the story up with the police report.
    For all you reading this we are going to take legal action for the credit card fraud and forger.y
    DO NOT HIRE THIS COMPANY!!!!!! YOUVE BEEN WARNED.
    Thank God for this web-site. I will continue to tellyou the out come.

    Tony
    lighthouse point, Florida
    U.S.A.

    0 Votes
  • Wi
    William Antonio Dec 27, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Hi Pam,

    As with any other product or service, you know you have to 'kiss many frogs before you find your prince'. And your situation is similar to one I've lived a year ago.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Dec 23, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Usa Fastest Locksmith, A Locksmith
    Phone: [protected]
    Fax:
    2526 Mt. Vernin Rd.#304 Dunwoody. Ga 30338
    Atlanta, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach, Georgia, 30338
    U.S.A.

    Submitted: 12/21/2007 10:38:44 PM
    Modified: 12/21/2007 10:39:00 PM
    Tonygambino
    lighthouse point, Florida


    My wife and I needed our locks changed. We called in the yellow pages A Locksmith. come to find out there main office is in Atlanta, we life in Pompano Beach FL area. On the phone they said customer satisfaction is top notch and there prices are very competitive.
    A young man showed up at the house ( I wsnt home from work yet) told my wife the price would be around 150-200 bucks. She says 'no problem, let me call another locksmith in the area to make sure this is around the same amount they charge so to protect us from getting ripped off. He became upset and told her 'trust me I'll treat youy right' 'but if you decide not to use me, I'm going to charge you $50 for the show up cost. When my wife called the other locksmith, he told her $150. and my wife relayed the info to the locksmith. He says'no prob Ill do it for the same amount.
    Well, when he was done I drove into the situation and my wife was upset, saying to the locksmith 'you told me $150'? He was getting loud and I jumped in and asked what was going on, my wife explained the issue. I then jumped on the phone and called anothere locksmith and again was told $150 by this other company. The bill that 'A locksmith' gave us??? $349.17. Of course I went nutts.
    I told him Im not signing this and called the police, they came, we told them what happend and after 1 hour the service man told us $200. after this big big issue. We call the credit card company and guess what? they put the $349.17 through. I was pissed. We told the card company what had accured. Then I called 'A Locksmith' and told them what happend they said the locksmith didnt' say anything to them and wouldn't help us. They were nasty on the phone aswell. About 5 min later the same tech that was at our house called and denied the $200 and said he has a signed sig of my wife at the $349.
    Heres what they did. before the left they gave me 2 invoices one for 200 and one for 349, the invoice for $200?was invoice # 1040 and the one for $349? was invoice 1041. after the cops left he made a new invoice which was carbon copy (the original one), that was not signed lol (###) and claimed he had a yellow copy of this. So not only did they 'high gross' us, they put a fraudulant unauthorized charge threw, and forged our signature.
    I then called the police again, and told them what happend. They were floored that they did this. So they siad they will 100% back the story up with the police report.
    For all you reading this we are going to take legal action for the credit card fraud and forger.y
    DO NOT HIRE THIS COMPANY!!! YOUVE BEEN WARNED.
    Thank God for this web-site. I will continue to tellyou the out come.

    Tony
    lighthouse point, Florida
    U.S.A.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Dec 17, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Monday, December 3, 2007
    How Illegal Locksmiths Hurt the Public
    Illegal locksmiths caused annoyances in New York and several other states by placing hard-to-remove stickers on private property. They further insulted residents and business owners by using fake addresses and phone number to avoid getting caught. This is a popular scam tactic for locksmiths who are in the business for the wrong reasons.

    There are an unbelievable number of illegal locksmiths across the United States who operated many different businesses under many different names while being licensed under only one name. Many illegal locksmiths place ads in yellow pages with phone numbers that connect to national call centers. The addresses they use in their ads either don't exist or belong to abandoned buildings. Operating under a business name other than the one under which the locksmith is licensed makes it impossible to verify their license for any state level recourse of action for recovery when there has been a scam.

    It is recommended that any locksmith's state license be verified before you hire him/her. Taking the locksmith's word for verification only makes your family security vulnerable. The scam artists have access to your home, your personal belongings, private information, keys, codes, and safe combinations. If your instinct tells you there is something vague about their answers to your questions, it may be best to follow your instincts. The locksmiths who are doing business legally and who are trustworthy should not mind satisfying your curiosity about their legitimacy.

    Fake locksmiths get away with their illegal scams because they catch people in a jam, in a hurry, too upset to take the proper precautions, and either too lazy to take the time to check credentials. They also get past the legal system because of the cracks in the system. Sometimes the very laws we make to protect us are the laws that can also harm us when misused.

    One way to tell if a locksmith is honest is to check the advertising for their locksmith license number. It should be posted on all ads, invoices, and business cards. The locksmith should also carry an embossed pocket version of the locksmith license. He/she should be willing to give you the license number when you contact him/her.

    There are some other problems with illegal lock pickers. Code grabbers are illegal in the United States, so an individual who refuses to show proper credentials and possesses one is obviously not a certified, registered locksmith. Although there are tools that a burglar uses that are legal for a person to have in possession, such as lock picks, these are not legal in all states. In New York, Illinois, and the District of Columbia lock picks are illegal. In some places, potential burglar tools are only incriminating if you've been suspected of committing a crime or are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    How could it be feasible to carry lock picks and other locksmith tools and be at the wrong place at the wrong time? There are lock picking games and events that allow for a lock picker to have possession of these items. There are people who are interested in such a past time solely for the entertainment value. So, not everyone who might carry the tools is an illegal locksmith or a criminal.

    0 Votes
  • Le
    LELAND IMM Nov 22, 2007
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Locksmith scam artists keying in on local residents

    11:01 PM PST on Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    By ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

    Some shady locksmiths keep you locked out SEATTLE – Some shady locksmiths have keyed in on the Puget Sound Area, overcharging unsuspecting customers – sometimes by hundreds of dollars.

    Karin Lee's 8-year-old son had managed to lock the door to his bedroom, locking himself in and his mother out. They key was nowhere to be found.

    Desperate and at the end of a long day, Lee consulted her phone book and found an ad for a locksmith, which stated it was local and reliable.

    The company quoted her a rate of $55 over the phone, but when the locksmith arrived, the price had tripled.

    Related Content
    BBB warning about nationwide locksmith scam
    "I looked at him and kinda got that sinking feeling that I was about to get shafted," said Lee.

    The Better Business Bureau says it’s a common scam that's happening nationwide. The companies with local phone numbers route calls through other states where they dispatch their disreputable workers.

    "As soon as they're getting caught by police or caught by another organization in Seattle, they'll all of a sudden just fly-by-night and just move to another city and start another company in another city and start swindling customers in that city," said Marcella Kallman of the Better Business Bureau.

    Shady locksmiths depend on you being unprepared and vulnerable, so it's important for you to know what to do if you feel you're being taken advantage of.

    First of all, ask the person on the phone if there will be an additional charge when the locksmith arrives.

    Next, make sure to get a quote for the original price in writing before any work is done.

    And, if the locksmith tries to charge you more, don't be afraid to tell him 'no thanks' and call somebody else.

    "You also want to make you sure never pay up front. Make sure they are performing the service you want them to do. Once they have done that, and done that successfully, then you can pay them," said Kallman.

    The Better Business Bureau has received numerous complaints about a company called "All Metro Area Locksmiths", as well as a New York outfit named "Dependable Locks" that does business as "Seattle Locksmiths," "24 hour Locksmiths," "24/7 Locksmiths," "A Emergency Locksmiths," and " Always Ready Locksmiths."

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

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



    CONSUMER ALERT: San Diego Hit by Locksmith Scam



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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    If you have specific questions directly relating to the investigation
    by the San Diego Police Department, please contact them at [protected].




    SOURCE Grah Safe and Lock

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

    10:41 PM EST on Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    By ANNA CROWLEY / WCNC
    E-mail Anna: [email protected]


    Consumer Connection confronts illegal locksmiths CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When Consumer Connection viewer Ronald Ritch got locked out of his car, he "went back into the house and started looking in the Yellow Pages and saw big ads from this company," Ritch explained.

    He called Reliable Locksmith. The locksmith came, opened the car, then, "I was ready to pay him the amount of money they told me on the telephone that it would be, he comes out and he wants almost twice as much," said Ritch.

    Stories like Ronald's and reports of damaged property are the main allegations against a group of locksmiths operating across the country and now here. Our investigation found two locksmiths with a string of complaints operating in Charlotte illegally.

    First, my investigative producer and I took on Reliable Locksmith.

    Their locksmith called to our lockout did not have a license. I confronted him about that. "Why don't you have a North Carolina license?"

    His name is Eli Ivgy. This was his answer: "I just moved here from California as you can see.”

    Anna: "You are required to have a license in North Carolina. Why don't you have one?”

    Eli: “I don't have a license..I..I, my company have a license but I did not know that I have to have a license. But if I have to I will change it from Washington to North Carolina."

    We checked with Washington State and California and Eli doesn't have a license there either, even though it's required in those states, too.

    The company Eli works for, Reliable, does not have a locksmith license.

    Not only is a company license required by state law, the license number should be visible in every ad -- that's the law.

    The law also requires each individual working as a locksmith to take an exam and undergo a criminal background check looking for convictions that range from sex offense to kidnapping.

    The North Carolina Locksmith Licensing board says they told Reliable's owner Reuven Gigi back in June that his company needs a license along with any employees doing locksmith work. According to the board, the owner asked to take the required test in a foreign language, a request they denied.

    You have to take the test in English. The board made it clear to me that they believe Reuven Gigi and Reliable Locksmith are well aware that they are continuing to operate here illegally.

    Tom Bartholomy of the Better Business Bureau says, "Just because someone has a big ad in the Yellow Pages doesn't mean they are a good business to do business with."

    Reliable isn't the only one advertising without its license number. Another -- One Hour Emergency Locksmith, also known as Dependable -- has prompted a nationwide warning from the Better Business Bureau.

    So we put Dependable to the test, too.

    The locksmith tells our investigative producer his name is Stephan Ivanoff.

    You guessed it -- he's not licensed and neither is Dependable.

    "You are pretty much at their mercy and that's what they like to take advantage of," Bartholomy said.

    The BBB calls Dependable particularly disreputable and says the company operates under a dozen different names.

    As for Ronald - he's filed complaints with the state board and the attorney general's office.

    "I wasn't the only one, not near the only one," Ritch said.

    He says getting the word out is critical.

    Neither Reliable nor Dependable returned our calls for comment.

    Complaints against locksmiths shot up 75 percent between 2005 and 2006. So how can you avoid being the next person with a bad experience? Don't wait for an emergency to choose a locksmith.

    Search for a locksmith now -- check their record with the BBB. Talk to them about prices and have their number on speed dial for when you have a lock out.

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    LELAND IMM Oct 30, 2007
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    Locksmith scam may have hit Tucson
    Existing businesses hear of customers being ripped off
    By Shelley Shelton
    Arizona Daily Star

    Tucson, Arizona | Published: 09.30.2007
    advertisement national trend in shady locksmithing has hit home, leaving Tucson's legitimate locksmiths looking for ways to combat the problem and stay in business. The trend hits consumers in a particularly vulnerable spot — the locks that help keep them and their valuables safe. The new Dex phone book contains several locksmith listings for companies with different names that each have 24 different phone numbers and 10 different addresses. The phone numbers and addresses for each of the businesses are exact duplicates of those listed for the other businesses.

    There is no building at the sites of at least four of the 10 addresses listed for A O A Locksmith, which also goes by the names A 01 Locksmith, Absolute Locksmith and several others scattered throughout the white business pages of the phone book.
    "It's a very bad business practice. It's giving a lot of us a bad name," said Justin Ashler, an employee of Al's Locksmith and Security Hardware Inc.

    Ashler has been working to organize longtime Tucson locksmiths, who met last week to discuss the newcomers. Al's is getting daily reports of people being ripped off, he said.
    Such reports include people being overcharged for small jobs and people who pay a 400 percent to 700 percent markup for parts, he said. Shady locksmiths have also been showing up at jobs for which they weren't hired and pretending to be the company that was hired, again overcharging in the process, Ashler said.
    Meanwhile, "my phone has pretty much stopped ringing for any weekday calls," so they're definitely hurting business, he said.
    The phenomenon apparently is not limited to Tucson. The September issue of Keynotes, a monthly magazine published by the Associated Locksmiths of America, has a two-page article about it.

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

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

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

    A O A Locksmith, A 01 Locksmith and Absolute Locksmith do not have city of Tucson business licenses. These three companies share addresses and telephone numbers with each other and with several other companies listed in the new phone book. The companies would definitely need licenses to do business within the city limits, said Beverly Moe, financial services supervisor in the city licensing section.

    Even if they provide only a service and don't sell anything for which they would collect sales tax, they would still need a non-tax license, she said.

    By contrast, Al's Locksmith, AAA Lock and Key and A&Z Safe Lock and Key — three of Tucson's established locksmiths with names found in the same part of the phone listings — all have business licenses.

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

    A phone book listing yielded a phone number that is not in service for Yigal Lampert, who is listed on corporate paperwork as a corporation member and whose address is the same as the corporate address.

    Calls Friday to two phone numbers listed for the Complete Services companies themselves routed into the same call center. One operator said the company management doesn't like to talk to reporters, and the second operator said the managers would be gone all day.

    That operator also was unsure what phone number he had answered because the company has many numbers, he said. Neither person gave his name, each saying he just answers the phone. Wouldn't give full name. Later Friday a man who said he is a manager for Complete Services called but would not give his full name. He said it has nothing to do with the company and that for personal privacy reasons he does not want his name in the paper.

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

    He said the company now has one contractor who does the locksmith work and that there were problems with a previous contractor until about two weeks ago, when that person was replaced. But that story doesn't jibe with what local locksmiths are seeing and hearing.

    Jon L. Hoyt, owner of AAA Lock and Key, is feeling particularly victimized because so many of the phone book listings are similar in name to his own company, he said. And every day, Hoyt said, he gets calls from people who are upset with locksmiths supposedly from his company, but once he gets a vehicle description or license plate number, he finds that it wasn't one of his people after all. He's seen a "drastic dip" in service calls in the time since the new phone book was issued, he said.
    "There's no scruples and there's no integrity," he said.
    The locksmiths who met last week are gathering again this week and hope to arm themselves with enough information to get the Arizona attorney general to investigate, Ashler said.
    "All we can do is make as much noise as possible," he said.
    ? Star reporter Dale Quinn contributed to this report. ? Contact reporter Shelley Shelton at 434-4086 or [email protected]

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    LELAND IMM Oct 30, 2007
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    Keyword Search Site Web BEWARE OF LOCKSMITH SWINDLES

    Monday, Oct 29, 2007 - 06:06 PM
    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Mississippi has issued a consumer warning regarding untrustworthy locksmith companies operating nationwide. Victim complaints to the BBB reveal that several locksmith companies, all using similar methods, are significantly overcharging consumers, charging for unnecessary services, using intimidation tactics and failing to give refunds or respond to consumer complaints.

    “Complaints about locksmith services to BBBs nationwide increased nearly 75% from 2005 to 2006 and have continued to be steady since that time,” reports Bill Moak, President/CEO of the BBB Mississippi. “These companies pose as being local and advertise in yellow pages using local phone numbers and fake local addresses.”

    In most cases, consumers are quoted reasonable pricing on the phone. However, when the locksmith arrives – typically in an unmarked vehicle – there is a demand for significantly more money than originally quoted, and these payments are requested to be in cash or by check made payable to the individual locksmith performing the services.

    “Always check with the BBB for a reliability report on any companies unknown to you before engaging their services” Moak said. “Also, file a complaint with us on any companies that you find are involved in deceptive or unethical business practices.” The BBB of Mississippi, serving consumers in 76 counties since 1964, can be contacted on their Automated Response Line [protected]) or at www.ms.bbb.org.

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    LELAND IMM Sep 27, 2007
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    Man sentenced for fraudulent locksmith scheme
    Article Last Updated: 09/26/2007 01:52:07 PM PDT

    An Israeli man who impersonated a San Bruno locksmith and bilked an 86-year-old homeowner, and possibly several others, for repairs was sentenced to three years' probation this morning in San Mateo County Superior Court and ordered to pay restitution to two victims.

    Moshe Mizrachi, 29, pleaded no contest Aug. 28 to charges of identity theft, for passing himself off as an employee of A-1 San Bruno Locksmith, a company police later learned had been dissolved in 2006 after the owner died, according to prosecutors.

    San Bruno police set up a sting operation after the 86-year-old woman, who locked herself out of her home and called the company, reported she had been charged $1,500 by Mizrachi and another, as-yet-unidentified man, to change a single lock.

    According to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the woman is on a fixed income and told the men she didn't have enough money to pay, so they convinced her to go to the bank.

    Minus $1,500 for the new lock on her door, the woman notified police, who learned from the widow of the company's actual owner that he had died in 2006 and the business had shut down. Police then called the company's phone number asking for a locksmith, and when Mizrachi showed up, he was arrested.

    According to Wagstaffe, there were multiple reports to a local television station from other residents complaining about being overcharged by the same locksmith company.

    After serving 92 days in county jail, Mizrachi received a three-year probationary sentence at his sentencing this morning, and was ordered to repay approximately $2,300 to two victims.

    Authorities have advised residents to always ask hired workers for formal identification and their license to do the work, and if anything seems suspicious, to call police.

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    LELAND IMM Sep 21, 2007
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    Some Locksmiths Cost Customers More Than They Bargained ForProblems Reported By Consumers Across the Country
    By Ric Romero
    Sept. 20, 2007 (KABC-TV) - The Better Business Bureau has received over a thousand complaints about unscrupulous locksmiths that have customers paying a lot more than they bargained for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    LELAND IMM Sep 18, 2007
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    Better Business Bureau: Get to know your locksmith before you need services
    Sharane Gott
    Better Business Bureau

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Acadiana 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.

    The BBB has 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.

    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 fall into the disreputable category 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.

    The BBB suggests 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 a company, please contact the BBB to file a complaint, or do so online at www.bbb.org. Receive information on local companies by calling the BBB’s Smart Call [protected] hours a day.
    Sharane Gott, president of the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, a nonprofit funded by ethical business, may be reached at 981-3497 or contact the BBB on its Web site: www.acadiana.bbb.org.

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    LELAND IMM Sep 13, 2007
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    September 13, 2007- Pasco, WashingtonNews
    Bogus Locksmiths: What to Know Before an Emergency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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

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

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

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    LELAND IMM Jul 26, 2007
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    BIBLE VERSE
    Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. - John 6:47

    Newspaper Ads
    Tyler Civic Theatre Center / The Sound of Music Published on 7/20/2007
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    View more ads >Back to home » Business » Business Columns » Kay Robinson: BBB ReportThursday, July 26, 2007Kay Robinson: BBB ReportPosted on Sunday, July 22, 2007Email This Print This BBB Warns About Locksmith Scams

    Kay RobinsonYou may have been a victim and not even known it.

    The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of untrustworthy locksmith companies that are ripping off consumers across the country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Kay Robinson is president of the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas, serving 19 East Texas counties. To contact the BBB in Tyler, call [protected], and in Longview, call [protected] or [protected], or visit the Web site at www.easttexas.bbb.org. The organization can be e-mailed at [email protected]

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    LELAND IMM Jul 20, 2007
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    Problem Solvers Locksmith scam makes a bad day even worse:

    YouNewsTV™Story Published: Jul 19, 2007 at 11:10 PM PDT

    Story Updated: Jul 20, 2007 at 8:04 PM PDT
    By Herb Weisbaum
    Listen
    Watch the story SEATTLE - Most locksmiths are honest. A few are not. And if you happen to call one of these disreputable companies your bad day will quickly get worse.

    When you lock your keys in the car, or lock yourself out of your house, you'd never call a locksmith in New York. At least, you wouldn't do so intentionally. But that's exactly what will happen if you call some of the companies we found working in the Seattle area.

    They're all part of Dependable Lock, based in the Bronx. But you'd never know that, because they pretend to be from here.

    The Better Business Bureau says the company is part of a "nationwide locksmith swindle" that's ripping off consumers across the country.

    "These guys operate everywhere," said Alison Preszler, spokeswoman with the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "And they've made their business model out of taking advantage of people who are locked out of their house and their car."

    Flip through the Seattle Yellow Pages and you may stumble across two full-page ads for Always Ready Locksmith and Quick Locksmith.

    Both promise low prices and fast service. The ads don't list an address, but with all the 206 and 425 area codes in their ads, it's reasonable to assume they're both local companies.

    They're not. Both are part of Dependable Lock.

    Dial any of those numbers and your call is answered at a dispatch center in New York.

    "You're quoted a reasonable price," says Preszler, "but when the locksmith arrives, he actually charges two, three, even four times more than what you were quoted."

    Put to the test.

    We wanted to see for ourselves, so we drove to the Northgate park-and-ride lot and had Stephanie, a KOMO intern, deliberately lock her keys in our car, a 2000, four-door Acura sedan. It did not have any special security system.

    She called Always Ready Locksmith using the North Seattle number listed in the phone book. Stephanie was quoted "$39 plus $15 and up" to open the car.

    So the job would be at least $54, but the dispatcher could not be any more specific than that. Stephanie was told to expect someone within 20 to 30 minutes.

    The wait was a lot longer. It took an hour for the locksmith - a man in an unmarked car and not wearing a uniform - to arrive.

    The first thing he did was tell Stephanie the charge was going to be a lot more than $54. He wanted $114, more money than we were willing to pay.

    Stephanie told the locksmith she only had $95 on her, so he offered to drive her to an ATM so she could get more cash.

    When Stephanie told him she didn't have an ATM card, the locksmith hesitantly took the $95.

    With our hidden cameras rolling, we watched as the so-called locksmith fumbled around trying to get into the car. He didn't appear to have the proper tools, and didn't seem to know what he was doing.

    He said his name was Sean, and from start to finish it took him six minutes to get the door open.

    After he finished opening the door we got out of our van, which was hidden nearby, and approached the locksmith.

    Asked why he charged so much for a simple job Sean replied, "Because it's automatic locks. This is how much it costs."

    He said he thought $95 was a fair price. "We give like 20 to 25 minute response, so it's very fair."

    I reminded him that it took more than an hour for him to arrive, and he didn't have much to say.

    Stephanie said she'd have been outraged if she was a normal customer and was told she needed to pay $114 when she was expecting $54.

    Little recourse.

    Sean said if I wanted more information I could contact the Dependable Locksmith offices in the Bronx.

    Sean gave us a receipt for only $39, not the $95 we paid him. That would make it a lot harder to file a complaint.

    "These companies have been impossible when it comes to getting refunds, when it comes to answering complaints," Preszler said. "They are absolutely non-responsive."

    We got quotes from several reputable Seattle-area companies that offer mobile locksmith service and their price quotes ranged from $50 to $75 to open the locks on the car we used in our test during normal business hours. That's half of what Sean told Stephanie he wanted.

    And Sean didn't do a very efficient job. We took the car to the AAA shop in downtown Seattle and one of their service techs was able to open the locked door in just 35 seconds.

    Clearly, the locks on our car were no reason for the added service charge Sean said was necessary.

    And it isn't easy for a reporter to get them to respond to the allegations of deceptive business practices.

    How does Dependable Locks respond to these allegations? The company's attorney did respond to my call, but he would only talk off the record. That's a "no comment."

    So our colleagues at WABC-TV in New York went to the Bronx and tried to talk to Dependable Lock. Their reporter had a door slammed in her face.

    The Council of Better Business Bureaus says it has received complaints from consumers across the country who say they've been ripped off by Dependable Lock.

    So how do you protect yourself? If you're a AAA member, call them. If you're not a member, the agency will refer you to a reputable tow company that can get you in.

    Other options include calling your local police department or a friend for a referral. Just don't pick a name at random out of the phone book. You never know who might show up.

    Tips for choosing a locksmith.

    What's in a name? 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 advertising: 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?

    Unmarked car: 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.

    Ask for identification: A legitimate locksmith should ask for identification 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.

    Get an estimate: Find out what the work will cost before you authorize it. Never sign a blank form authorizing work.

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

    Just say no: If you are not comfortable with the service provider, you can, and should, refuse to work with the locksmith.

    Source: The Council of Better Business Bureaus

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  • Le
    LELAND IMM Jul 10, 2007
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    a verified customer
    Verified customer

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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.


    About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Trademarks | Terms & Conditions of Use | Contact Us
    © 2003 Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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  • 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.

    Related Links
    VIDEO: Locksmith Locked Up
    ABC7 Video On Demand
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    Michael Finney
    Watch Michael Finney's consumer reports nightly on ABC7 News at 5 and 6 p.m.

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