You just moved into a brand new neighborhood out of state. You decide to enjoy the beautiful weather and go out on a walk with your significant other. You each think the other has the house key to get back inside. When you return, you realize you’re locked out. You don’t have family or friends in town to let you in with a spare key, and the only thing you can do to get back in your house is to call a locksmith.
Being locked out of your house is a vulnerable situation to be in. Unfortunately, there are lead-gen companies who run elaborate locksmith scams to take advantage of homeowners in this situation. Keep in mind that if you find a locksmith company on the internet that claims locksmith services start at $19, it is more than likely too good to be true.
What is a Lead-Gen Locksmith?
Lead-gen locksmith companies are everywhere, even in Des Moines. These companies typically have generic names such as 24-7 Locksmith Company that direct customers to a call center line. The sales rep will give the customer an extremely low estimate for locksmith services and send the customer’s address to one of their “locksmiths.” These contractors oftentimes have very little training and are encouraged to charge top dollar once the door has been unlocked. Lead-gen companies tell their locksmiths that they can keep 30–40% of what they charge the customer, which is how lead-gen locksmiths not only pick your locks, but they’ll try to pick your pockets too.
How Do You Find a Reputable Locksmith?
It’s best to research locksmiths in the Des Moines area before you actually need one to reduce the likelihood of being taken advantage of in an emergency situation. There are several factors of a reputable locksmith to look for that lead-gen companies simply won’t have.
Assess the Locksmith Company's Name
As mentioned before, lead-gen companies usually have a generic name to make it easy for customers to find when they search on Google or other search engines. Furthermore, these companies tend to build a bad reputation quickly, so they are constantly changing their name to bury their scammy business practices. Visit the locksmith’s website and take some time to learn about them. You can even call them to ask them questions. Trustworthy locksmiths aren’t just in it to make a quick buck, so they’ll be more than happy to answer your questions even if you don’t require immediate service.
Strauss Security Solutions is an established locksmith company that has been in the security business for over 80 years. With our Central Iowa location, you can trust that you won’t be sent to a call center when you contact us.
Verify the Locksmith's Location
Typically, lead-gen locksmiths do not have a legitimate storefront address. They will either list a P.O. box or they may not have a specific location posted anywhere at all. More recently, however, these locksmith scammers are getting creative. They will submit a bogus address, or several addresses to appear to run a larger operation, to sites like Google Maps and Yellow Pages. Because it is difficult for Google and other directories to verify the large volume of addresses they receive, fake company addresses slip through the cracks and get published.
Drive to the locksmith’s location and see if they have a reputable brick and mortar location. Take a look at their service vehicles as well or call and ask what the vehicles look like. Scammy locksmiths from lead-gen companies will often arrive in an unmarked van, so be sure the company you call has a branded fleet of service vehicles.
Keep in mind there there are reputable mobile locksmiths who operate ethically. You may have to do a little more research to make sure the mobile locksmith you call is trustworthy.
Confirm Locksmith Estimates Ahead of Time
An accurate estimate over the phone may not always be possible since pricing can vary depending on the brand and lock type, but be sure to at least get a baseline quote and inquire about any potential service fees, replacement parts, or labor costs. Confirm the price again with the locksmith who arrives, and if the price isn’t similar to the estimate you were quoted on the phone, do not allow any work to be completed. Also be wary of estimates that start low and use “and up” language. Many lead-gen companies advertise that their locksmith services start at “$19 and up.”
Check that the Locksmith Company is Insured
Verify a locksmith is fully insured before beginning any work on your property just in case damage occurs during the service visit. Dishonest locksmiths from lead-gen companies typically don’t have insurance, and homeowners are not only price gouged by the locksmith service, but they also may incur other costs to repair any damages that occurred. The state of Iowa does not currently require locksmiths to be insured, but it’s a good idea to ask a locksmith company if they are fully licensed, bonded, and insured to protect your home and property.
If you feel you have been the victim of a locksmith scam, be sure to report your experience to the Better Business Bureau. It is unlikely you will recoup any costs from the encounter, but you can help prevent other people from being scammed by the same company. Give Strauss Security Solutions a call for any questions regarding locksmith services for residential and commercial properties.