Let’s say you got yourself locked out of the house. Maybe you’ve been locked out of your car. Or maybe you simply want to switch out your lock setup for something else. Whatever the reason, you’re going to need a locksmith. Before you go ahead and pick the first locksmith that you find out of the phone book, you’re going to want to do some legwork and do your research. Unfortunately, not all locksmiths were created equal, so we’re going to have to do a little digging first before we get to the good stuff.
In this post, we’re going to look at all things locksmith so that you can be sure to not be caught with your pants down.
Ten things you should do before hiring a locksmith. Really.
Before you give a locksmith the time of day, there are ten important things that you should do to make sure that they’re legit. We’re going to go over these points together in order to get a good idea as to what you need to know.
- First of all, find out if they have a physical address. You’d be surprised by how many locksmiths don’t have a physical address and so aren’t legitimate. It’s an ungodly number that calls into question the whole practice sometimes. But the good ones are definitely out there. You just need to do your due diligence and ask if they have a physical address. If they give you one but it seems fishy, just Google it. You’ll be able to find out pretty quickly if it’s the real thing or not.
- Make sure they’re a member of the Associated Locksmiths of America. This is the only way that a locksmith can become licensed. They should be able to give you the rating they have as well as give you some accreditation. This is the best way to see if your locksmith is legit or not, as this is an official association that monitors these types of things.
- Ask them for a quote right over the phone. Any legitimate locksmith will be able to give you a quote over the phone. If they’re not able to, they’re probably not legitimate. Prices don’t vary much in the world of locksmiths, so they should be able to give you a fairly accurate quote. Also, if the price seems like it’s really too good to be true, that’s actually because it probably is. Always be careful and watch yourself when it comes to getting quotes on prices over the phone.
- Find out if they drive a company car. Usually, they’ll drive a company vehicle that holds all the tools they’ll need to complete the job. They’ll need something big enough to hold all of the tools that they’ll be carrying. So if your locksmith shows up in a small car and they’re holding a drill, kick them to the curb. They’ll likely just drill out your locks and cost you a fortune. There’s no use in getting that sort of “service,” because you’ll just be out of luck in the end.
- Don’t let your “locksmith” convince you that your locks are high security. Very few locks are actually high security, and this is really where lazy locksmiths will step in, claiming that your locks are high security and so they have to drill through them. Drilling is only ever used as a last resort, and a good locksmith will try bumping and picking before they even think of drilling. They don’t want to do any more damage than they have to if they’re legitimate. It’s the questionable ones that will jump straight to drilling to make their jobs easier at your expense. Remember, a burglary happens every 15 seconds, so you want to be safe.
- Ask them about company ID. Most locksmiths will have a uniform, ID, a company car, business card, or all of the above. If they can’t produce most or any of those things, then you guessed it–kick them to the curb. You don’t have time or money to be dealing with fraudulent or amateur locksmiths, so don’t bother with them. They’ll only cost you down the line should you choose to go ahead and work with them, so don’t bother doing that. You’re much better off being safe rather than sorry and going with a professional.
- Get all the facts on a lock that’s bump proof. Some locksmiths will be all too eager to try and convince you that your lock is bump proof, but you need to do your due diligence and ask them how and why the lock is bump proof. If they can’t give you a satisfactory answer, go ahead and kick them to the curb! You don’t need a phony locksmith in your life, and it’s not something that you want either. A legitimate, professional locksmith will be able and willing to tell you exactly how and why your lock is bump proof so that you’re a more educated customer.
- Ask about Master Key Systems. There’s a system in place where you can have all of your doors lock and unlock with the very same key no matter where that door is located and what it leads to. This is a simple and relatively inexpensive process that can be done pretty quickly and easily. All it takes is the right locksmith for the job and the right toolkit. If you work together with your locksmith on this one, you can easily have a Master Key System that works for your locks all around your home. What could be better?
- Pay attention to how your call is answered. If they answer with a generic “locksmith” and nothing else, hang up and kick them to the curb! A legitimate locksmith service will mention the company name at the very least. If they’re not able to utter a company name, it’s because they probably don’t have one, and they’re just operating out of someone’s garage or something. Either way, that’s not a service you want to patronize at the very least. It’s always good to do your due diligence, and if you come up with a service without a company name, then that’s a gigantic red flag.
- Stay informed. Shady locksmiths have been and will continue to be a major problem in the world of locksmiths. The last thing you need is for you to be serviced by an amateur who ends up doing more harm than good. At the end of the day, this is the safety and security of your home we’re talking about here. If they aren’t legitimate in any way, shape, or form, then you know what to do: Kick them to the curb!
Things to ask before hiring a locksmith.
When it comes to finding the right locksmith, you’re going to need a handy dose of questions that you can ask to have your fears allayed. You need to know what to ask, when to ask it, and what kinds of answers to your questions that you should be expecting. So without further ado, we’re going to provide you with a list of some things that you should be asking your locksmith before having any work done at all.
- Are you licensed and insured? You should ask this particular question because some states require locksmiths to be fully licensed. Even if they aren’t licensed, all technicians and locksmiths should be insured. If you can’t be provided proof of their being insured, then go ahead and kick them to the curb. You don’t want something to happen on the job, only for you to be held accountable for it. Or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, you don’t want there to be anything that happens to your house or property, only for you to be on the hook for the associated cost involved.
- What type of work do you do? This is a question that should be asked before you tell them what you need having done. The reason for this is that they might just say that they offer your service when they don’t and aren’t experienced enough at it before committing to it. This isn’t just to save your checkbook, but it’s to be on the safe side, too. The technician or locksmith might be working on electrified equipment that could do some serious damage to someone who has no idea what they’re doing. Just because the locksmith is foolhardy or ignorant doesn’t mean that they should be fried. You should just kick them to the curb.
- What’s your warranty period? A locksmith that’s worth their salt will offer you at least 30 days after installation for anything to be covered and taken care of. If they aren’t willing to offer you at least 30 days, feel free to kick them to the curb. The least they could do is offer a normal and regular warranty period, so if they’re not willing to do that, they aren’t going to be worth your time. The fact that they’re not offering this warranty period likely means that they don’t have any confidence in their work and they know that it will be faulty even within 30 days. Needless to say, this is not a place that you need to be working with.
- What are your rates? This won’t necessarily indicate the quality of the locksmith, but it will give you a ballpark range. There are some locksmiths who will charge per task. Others will charge you by the hour and charge an hour minimum no matter how quickly they get the job done. Others will factor in trip fees and will increase the fee when it goes over a certain amount of mileage. It’s best for you to be better safe than sorry when it comes to stuff like this, and you should be ready to kick the locksmith to the curb if their fees are outrageous or seem too cheap and good to be true. Because as the saying goes, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do you have relevant certification? A legitimate locksmith will maintain their education as they go along in their trade. They will receive certifications as a result of all of this, and all of this can be checked and re-checked against their personal bio to make sure that what they’re saying is legitimate. If you receive working knowledge of some of these certifications, all the better. You’ll be one step ahead of those phony locksmiths who you should kick to the curb instead of giving them the time of day. This is a really important question to ask, because it’s going to determine whether or not you should be going with whatever locksmith that you’ve come across in your search.
- Do you background check your employees? This is an important point to ask because you’re going to be entrusting your locksmith with the entirety of your location. Not just your locks will be affected, but the whole inside of your house or property will as well. $2,251 is lost per burglary in the U.S. With that in mind, you’re going to want to find a locksmith company that background checks every single one of their employees beforehand. If they don’t background check all of their employees, what do you have to do? That’s right. Kick them to the curb! You can never be too careful, especially when it comes to your house and your livelihood. Don’t feel bad about asking this question, think of it as your due diligence–because it is.
- Is payment due immediately? This one isn’t necessary, but it can definitely be helpful. Maybe they have payment plans that you can take advantage of. You’ll also want to ask about any quotes that they can offer you in writing. This will help you out greatly by allowing you to have options when it comes to your payment plan. This isn’t a kick to the curb-worthy offense if they’re not able to guarantee payment plans and the like, but it’s definitely a helpful thing to have them offer right up front. Just be careful wherever you do go and make sure that there isn’t interest that applies to payments made after a certain date and other various things like that.
- Do you have any fees? This is important to ask because some locksmiths have a low base rate but high fees depending on what it is that they have to do. This way they can get away with quoting a low rate without having to include all of the fees that will be associated with the job as well. Theis is a shifty practice that should be kicked to the curb, and any locksmith engaging in it should be kicked to the curb as well. It should go without saying, but you should not engage with any locksmith with high fees unless you’re willing to pay those fees for the service involved. This will have to be decided on a case by case basis of course, but it’s not something that can be considered lightly.
- How much experience do you have? This one seems like it might not be too important, but it can make all the difference in a real life scenario. You might not think that experience is all that necessary when it comes to fixing a lock, but it really is. An inexperienced locksmith might see an older lock as being unfixable and suggest to replace the whole thing while a locksmith with more experience will see what’s wrong with the lock and figure out how to fix it without having to drill through it and replace the whole thing. Because really, drilling is and always should be a last resort option that’s only turned to when all other options have failed. That’s the only way and reason it should be used.
- Does your company have any references or customer testimonials? Needless to say, you’re going to want to be sure that the company you’ve entrusted with your lock being repaired is reputable and honest. One of the best ways to do that is to check their references and look for customer testimonials. If they have bad reviews or worse, they don’t have any reviews at all, you’re going to be looking at some major red flags that will stand in the way of you and your lock getting fixed. If you can find those testimonials or references, however, that can make all the difference.