(WMC-TV) - Just like you would do for any other contractor, you must check the credentials and licenses of locksmiths.
Hire the wrong one and you just might get the bait-and-switch, which is what one man was doing recently when he was caught by U.S. postal inspectors.
Like the locksmith postal inspectors just BUSTED bait-and-switching HIS customers.
"Over the phone they would be quoted a price of around $50. Then after the locksmith showed up, they would get a story about how they had a unique lock or more difficult," said Dan Taylor. "They would be told the price would be several hundred dollars."
In that case, unlicensed locksmiths created several bogus fronts in the same city and advertised in the yellow pages.
"This insured the odds that one of the suspects' companies would be contacted," said Taylor. "Anytime, you are quoted something, even in an emergency service or not, you want to get that quote in writing. Because once that service is been done, you are vulnerable to price-gouging."
If you are a victim of this type of price-gouging, report it to postal inspectors by clicking here.
These are the Better Business Bureau's tips on shopping legitimate locksmiths:
- Check out the company with the BBB, preferably before you need a locksmith's services.
- Ask the locksmith who shows up for identification and his TN license or registration number.
- Find out if the locksmith is insured to cover any damage incurred during a repair.
- Expect the locksmith to ask you for identification. A legitimate locksmith will confirm your identity and make sure you are the property owner before doing any work.
- Be wary of locksmiths who answer the phone with generic sounding names like "locksmith services". Always ask for the legal name of the business and its physical location.
- Be wary of locksmiths who arrive in unmarked vehicles. Most legitimate locksmith companies will have vehicles that are clearly marked with the company's name.
- In case of a lock-out, be cautious if you are told up front that the lock has to be drilled and replaced. An experienced, legitimate locksmith has invested in the tools and education to be able to unlock almost any door.
- If you are a victim of an unscrupulous locksmith, file a complaint with the BBB at bbb.org. Complaints should also be filed with the State of TN Locksmith Licensing Program by calling 615.532.9170 or online at www.tn.gov/commerce/boards.