Disreputable locksmiths: There are three things I always carry in my purse: lipstick, emergency candy in case of hypoglycemia, and a list of BBB-accredited locksmiths and tow companies. My husband has that list in his wallet as well. Let’s face it: When you’re locked out of your house or broken down by the side of the highway, that is not a good time to start researching trustworthy companies. For a few years now, the BBB has warned consumers about several locksmith companies that overcharge, use intimidation and fail to give refunds or respond to complaints.
Not so dependable: For example, Dependable Locksmith, which operates under dozens of names, poses as a local locksmith in cities across the country. They advertise in the Yellow Pages using local phone numbers and fake local addresses. So you may think you’re dealing with a local locksmith, but your call actually goes to a call center in Florida. This company is the subject of pending action by several state attorneys general.
Bill bullies: A complaint from Cleveland, where Dependable Locksmith operated under the name Superb Solutions, alleges the company showed up in an unmarked vehicle, quoted fees of $39 and $84 for separate jobs, then presented a bill for $471. Another complaint stated the locksmith demanded the consumer pay twice the price quoted over the phone. He offered to drive her to an ATM to get cash, but she refused, feeling unsafe. She finally wrote a check to the locksmith, who would not let her into her car until she did so. The next day she canceled payment on the check and filed a police report.
Check them out: “Ask around, and always check with your BBB first to find reputable businesses,” said Steve Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
More info or to report scams: Visit the BBB at www.bbb.org. Call (509) 455-4200 or (800) 356-1007.
Holly Doering, BBB Editor