How to avoid being a victim
Firstly, do your research. Please take the time to read below, it could save you a lot of money and a bad experience.
Whether it’s locksmiths, plumbers, electricians etc, the principle is the same for all tradesman. One thing is for certain there are plenty of cowboys and scammers out there.
Choosing the advertisements at the very top of Google’s home page is often a costly mistake. These are often simply the ones who paid the most to get there and often make false claims! For example. ‘Only £49 Call-Out!’ only to then add ridiculous labour costs on site. Or add unexpected ridiculous costs like £200 + VAT for “Driving” Click here for proof of this practise. The organic listings below the paid one are usually the best ones to choose from.
Check the company’s reviews on Google and Trustpilot. Have they got lots over several years? If customers have been scammed they are not normally shy to say so. If they have no or very few reviews move on to the next advert.
Are they a member of the industry’s official governing body? (The Master Locksmith Association in my trade). If not, why not?
I see plenty of listings where a business has just paid to be on sites that seem to offer some credibility to their status but in reality are little more than advertisers themselves, The Guild of this, The Federation of that, Checkerwhatever, The Institute of somethingelse. If it isn’t the official body recognised by the government for that industry then in my opinion it’s just an advertising portal.
Continued below the pictures…
Just look at this, the lock model is too large for the door, but it was the only one the “locksmith” had on his van.
Words fail me, just what was the “locksmith” thinking?
This customer was locked out and called a so called locksmith from the internet….
We were then called to put the job right.
This is one of the worst cowboy openings I’ve seen. Not only did the “locksmith” drill the lock to make it represent a Swiss cheese but still couldn’t open it, so just cut it out of the door. One new door required.
Similar to the one before , only this time they drilled and drilled to cut the lock in half. You can imagine what the door looked like.
This electric lock was fitted by an internet “locksmith”. The original lock fitted perfectly into that door frame and is a current model. I guess they couldn’t be bothered to get one and fitted that rubbish in the picture. Note the missing and odd screws.
This invoice for £989.00 was paid by a customer to open & fix the lock in their Upvc door. Not only was the bill vastly inflated (£200 for ‘driving‘!) but they did a terrible job which we were then called to repair properly.
This person wanted a Kickstop fitted, we were called to fit it correctly. When I asked why the ‘locksmith’ had left such enormous holes in the door, they replied, “it was the only drill he had”. What can you say?
Needs little to say except I trust this customer will be a little more careful when choosing a locksmith next time.
Continued from above…
Very Important! Do they have the genuine address from where they trade from in their advert? The vast majority don’t and this is a major issue. I would not use anyone who doesn’t show their true address – what if something goes wrong, you can bet they won’t be returning to fix it any time soon.
We see many adverts that have ambiguous addresses at best. For example: “Lock House, High Street, Buckhurst Hill“. If you try and look it up you’ll find it clearly doesn’t exist. These are many of the tricks national companies and call centres use to dupe the public into assuming they are local. Should you telephone them ask for their address, if it’s false or an out of area Call Centre they’ll find it difficult to answer.
Non-geographical phone (0345, 0845, 0800 etc), where tradesman are concerned, avoid at all costs, they can use this to hide where they are based.
Do they have a local phone number (i.e 020 8508 **** or 020 8502 ****) if not they probably aren’t local! We see many companies using numbers like 0208 090 **** to hide their origin.
Do they have a Companies House Registration number? You can check this for free on the UK government’s Companies House website.