Arlington, VA – July 10, 2007 –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 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 BBB spokesperson. “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.
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.
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.
Another locksmith contractor fleecing consumers is Liberty Locksmith. Similar to Dependable Locksmith, it poses as a local locksmith and runs full-page yellow pages ads with multiple phone and address listings. The phone numbers appear to be local, but connect to a national call center in New York, 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, BBB terminated the membership of Liberty Locksmith for providing false information in its membership application and providing misleading advertisements to the public.
Like Dependable, Liberty Locksmith uses 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 your BBB first to find reputable businesses.”
Consumers who feel that they’ve been taken advantage of by Dependable Locksmith, Liberty Locksmith or others, can go to www.bbb.org to file a complaint with their local BBB.
Reporters and journalists may contact Alison Preszler, CBBB’s Media Relations Specialist or call 703-247-9376 to request an interview or additional information.
BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, 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, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.