Be Sure You Know Who You Are Dealing With
Some locksmiths advertising in the phonebook aren't who they say they are. If a company answers the phone with a generic phrase like "locksmith services," rather than a company-specific name, be wary. Ask for the legal name of the business. If the person refuses, call another locksmith. Some locksmiths place several similar ads with false or nonexistent local addresses, to give the impression that each ad represents a different entity or the company is locally owned and operated. However, if you call the local and toll-free numbers provided in these ads, the calls are in fact routed to the company's call center which is often times, not located in the area but actually in another state.
Be Sure To Know Where They Are Physically Located
Ask for the company's address. You can verify addresses through other websites that allow you to match phone numbers with street addresses, like 411.com. If you call a locksmith who doesn't list an address, ask why. If the answer is that it's a "mobile" business, you should understand they have no storefront. If something goes wrong, you will likely have to deal with the company over the phone to get the situation resolved, as opposed to resolving it in person at their place of business.
Get An Estimate In Writing Before Work Starts
They may tell you one price over the phone just to get your business, but once the locksmith arrives, the price is inflated with numerous additional charges. In some cases the final bill can be in excess of several hundred dollars. To prevent this, get an estimate for all work and replacement parts from the locksmith before work begins. Most legitimate locksmiths will give you an estimate on the phone for the total cost of the work. Ask about additional fees before you agree to have the locksmith perform the work. Companies may charge extra for responding to a call in the middle of the night. Ask if there is a charge for mileage, or a minimum fee for a service call. If the price is different from the estimate you got on the telephone, do not allow the work to be done and never sign a blank form authorizing work.
Ask for Identification
When the locksmith arrives, don't be afraid to ask for identification, including a business card. In addition to a business card, check to see if the invoice includes the company's name, and whether the locksmith's vehicle has a name that matches the business card, invoice, and/or bill.
Find Out If They Will Insure Their Work
Also, it is important to find out if the locksmith is insured. If your property is damaged during a repair, or if faulty work leads to loss or damage, it's important for the locksmith to have insurance to cover your losses. Be cautious if you're told right away that the lock has to be drilled and replaced. An experienced legitimate locksmith has invested in the tools and education to provide quality service, and can unlock almost any door.
Remember, you don't want to give access to the locks for your home, car, or place of business to just anyone. So take the time to shop around. Take advantage of the BBB's resources to connect you with a locksmith worthy of your trust.