The figure on your right shows a typical page that comes up on Google when someone has searched for ‘Locksmith Denver’. Do you see all the ads that state “Locksmith $15’ and “15 Denver Locksmith”? The well known phrase, “If it is too good to be true – it probably is” applies here. Do you really think a locksmith is going to come to you and do whatever you need done for $15? Off course not...
These ads are ALL scams. Not some of them, all of them. This is the biggest and longest known locksmith scam in existence. It is in every major city in the United States. The dollar amount is irrelevant. It could be $15, $19, $35. It just doesn’t matter. That ADVERTISED amount is a different amount in every city. What DOES matter, is that you can be sure that you WON’T be paying this amount. This amount is designed just to get you to call. Once you call, they own you.
It works like this:
You have locked your keys in your car. You are frustrated. Who wouldn’t be? You need a locksmith NOW. You search on Google. A multitude of choices come up (see figure A). You call one of the ‘$15 locksmiths’. Now the scam begins...
It’s basically a bait-and-switch (click here for definition) technique, only its legal. A typical conversation sounds like this:
- Locksmith Company: “Locksmith. How can I help you?”
- You: “I just locked my keys in the car and I need a locksmith to come out and get me back in”
- Locksmith Company: “Sure. We would be glad to help. What is your address?”
- You: “ Before I give you the address, how much will this cost me?”
- Locksmith Company: “$15 plus labor.”
- You: “How much is labor?”
- Locksmith Company: “$25 and up for a typical car”
- You: “Ok that’s fine. My address is...”
You have just been ripped off, and you don’t even know it. By the time your locksmith technician arrives, he/she will charge you as much as he/she can get. The typical price is $149. Not the $40 you think you will pay. You are now angry and frustrated. You have waited a long time (despite the fact that the rep quoted you only about a 20 minute wait time) and you were expecting to pay about $40. More often than not you will pay what they ask. You can’t wait any longer to go through this whole process again. You just want to get in your car, go on your way, and put this whole bad event behind you. Your frustration and eagerness is what all of these companies count on. That is the essence of this scam. And it works. You WILL PAY. It's very simple, if this scam did not work, it would not still be going on in every major city, in the United States for the past 40 years. Don't be the next victim.
Want to know the crazy part of this whole scenario? They have done nothing wrong. Yep. Not legally speaking anyway. They stated "...plus labor". They told you the minimum price that it would be. Once they arrived, they didn’t "force" you to pay, did they? You agreed to the "final" price. Its not like they opened the car, then changed the price. It’s all nice and legal. It's is just not ethical.
The above conversation isn’t even the worst of the worst. Some upper echelon scam companies (the really heartless ones), don’t even quote the “...plus labor” part. They just say “$15 dollars”. Some companies won't even quote that! If you don’t ask, they don’t volunteer any info on their services – certainly not their scam pricing. They just ask for your address and then they send someone to you. A real locksmith company gives an exact price (all inclusive) whether a client asks them for one or not. It's just good, ethical business practice.
How to protect yourself from this scam: Simple. Ask for the total price over the phone. Almost all those “$15 Scam companies” will state that a quote over the phone is not ‘their policy’. Their excuses for not giving you an exact price over the phone are as follows:
- That every job is different and a technician is better ‘qualified’ to give an exact price.
- That they are just the phone operator and that they don’t have that exact pricing information.
- The technician has to see the lock first (car, home or business) because every one is different.
- They need to send a technician out so that the price can be ‘accurate’.
- The "evaluation" is free.
REMEMBER THIS RULE: If they cannot quote an exact price over the phone, then just hang up and call someone else. You are dealing with a scam company. This will be true, 100% of the time.