What to Ask a Locksmith

June 2, 2010

It is very important to ask any type mechanic the right questions. An educated consumer has less chance of getting ripped off. In this section I’ll give you some tips on how to avoid being overcharged and getting the best value from your locksmith service.

When you need your locks changed:

First, understand that you have price options. There are different types of locks ranging from high-security to standard quality. Also, there are many different locksmiths who will all compete for your business. It’s relatively easy to find a good deal by getting free quotes over the phone but beware of some sneaky hidden charges.

The first hidden charge is the “Locksmith Service Charge”. This charge is only appropriate during night hours typically after 5 pm on weekdays, a bit earlier on Saturdays, and all day Sunday. Service charges also vary by company; there are no standard prices in the locksmith industry. This charge can also be written as “Locksmith Emergency Service” or “Locksmith Installation Charge”. Don’t be fooled, always ask locksmith over the phone if the price being quoted includes installation with no service charge. An honest locksmith who cares about his reputation will tell you all the prices up front. More importantly, review all the prices discussed over the phone with the locksmith when he arrives at your door ensuring the best deal.

When you are locked out:

Being locked out of your home or office can be incredibly stressful and often happens because of a simple mistake. It is the most difficult but by far the most important time to rationally price out a locksmith’s lockout service. A dishonest locksmith has the perfect opportunity to overcharge you when you are in a vulnerable position. If you just want to get back in to your home and grab the first locksmith you see without asking the right questions you will pay for it, and honestly there is nothing worse than being punished financially for a simple mistake. A locksmith lockout service should not be expensive; by following my advice below you will guarantee a fair flat rate price with no additional expense.

Here’s how to avoid getting ripped off when you are locked out. First, and most important, ask how much the lockout service will be. I know that this seems stupid to mention but understand the significance. If you leave any pricing open to a less than honest locksmith he is open to charge anything he wants. Lockout prices during weekday work hours (9-5) should always be flat rate. No service charges should be added. The only time a reasonable service charge should be expected is at night or on the weekends. Make sure to ask the locksmith over the phone if the prices being quoted are flat rate and have no additional charges.

The second and most important thing to understand about being locked out is that your locks typically don’t have to be destroyed. The majority of lockouts happen when you simply slam the door behind you and it automatically locks. A locksmith technique called “shimming” opens the slammed door easily and often quickly. Shimming cannot work is if your door is obstructed by a metal bar on the side preventing anything from retracting the latch. In this circumstance a locksmith should try to pick the lock to gain entry. The one circumstance where both picking and shimming cannot work is if your door has a protective bar on the side combined with a high-security pick resistant lock. In this case a locksmith is forced to drill open your lock. The option of drilling should be a last resort because it damages the lock beyond repair and a replacement lock is necessary which includes an additional charge. Often a dishonest locksmith will immediately drill open your locks, (with the intention of charging you for a replacement), before even trying an easier, cheaper approach. It is important to understand that a “slam door lockout” is a relatively easy service and should not be expensive. Tell the locksmith over the phone how you are locked out and ask how they intend on opening it. If the locksmith sounds suspicious or evasive on the phone, hang up and try a different service.

Another type of lockout locksmiths see are when customers lose their entire set of keys. Often in this case, more than one lock is locked making it a more difficult service. Even in this case, not all the locks need to be destroyed. In my experience I have been able to successfully pick open multiple locks on a lockout service call. An honest locksmith will try to salvage as much as he can minimizing your expense. Again, picking is only possible when you do not have high-security pick resistant locks on your door. Medeco or Multi-Lock locks are considered high-security and can only be defeated with power tools.

In the event that a lock has to be drilled, nothing should be damaged except the cylinder. Your top lock deadbolt and the bottom lock mortise lock (or house lock) should not be damaged. Demand up front pricing over the phone and a description of what the service procedure will be depending on your lockout circumstance. Lockbusters is here to provide New York City with the best and cheapest lockout service available. We are open twenty four hours a day seven days a week to service all your lockout emergencies. Our flat rates are $29 weekday lockout service Monday through Friday 9am-5pm and $49 nights and weekends. Call us today at 212-960-8585 for guaranteed flat rate professional emergency lockout service in the New York City area. Lockbusters wants to make sure you never overpay again.

— The Lockbusters Team

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