Why are Locksmiths Unhappy?
Recently across the country, news outlets have been reporting on the worrying trend of consumers being scammed by locksmiths. These scammers allegedly make fake listings online and prey on people who are locked out of their homes or cars and are desperate, sometimes scaling up prices by over 300% from what was quoted over the phone, or what is typical for a locksmith to charge. So how is this happening? Essentially illegitimate locksmiths create websites and listings, tricking search engines into thinking they are locally located. Once a customer calls to request service, they are redirected to a call center that may not even be near the area they are in. The call center will take the customers information, quote them a price, and send them a contractor. These contractors are very often unlicensed, possibly inexperienced, and almost always demand payment at a much higher rate than what was quoted on the phone.
How does this effect local locksmiths?
Not only does this practice give real locksmith business owners a bad name, but it takes business away from them by pushing their websites lower in the search results. Unsurprisingly, real locksmiths are starting to catch a lot of heat from angry customers who have had a bad experience with fake locksmiths. Furthermore, it is becoming increasingly difficult for local companies to market themselves, since they are not showing up in search engines and customers who see their ads automatically assume they are scamming.
How are they getting around the issue?
There are a number of websites that locksmiths can turn to to get themselves in front of the right traffic and ahead of their competition. Directories are a great place to start, and some will only list one locksmith per location (an example of this is Findlocksmiths – Buffalo, NY) which is great because it reduces the competition. Another option is running Google Adwords campaigns. These will put businesses above all the competition including the local map listings and while they will usually cost quite a bit per click, can yield good results if done correctly.
How does a consumer know if they have a good locksmith?
There are a few tips when it comes to picking a good locksmith. The first is to make sure you read online reviews. While you may be unable to do so if you are locked out of your car, if you need rekeying done or anything that you can call about from a computer about, it is best practice to check reviews on sites such as Yelp, BBB, and Facebook. If you are in a pinch, you can ask whoever picks up the phone where the business is located and if they are local. If the locksmith arrives and is in an unmarked car, or does not have a name badge, it is a huge red flag. You should request they leave and refuse any service. Another great way to check the authenticity of your locksmith is to ask for their certification. New York State requires locksmiths to get certified by the state before they are allowed to legally practice. Only a real business will have this, and it is a great way to weed out the good from the bad.