Selecting a home contractor can be maddening. With so many horror stories about scams and shady dealings, homeowners are often unsure about their choice of contractor even after they have begun work on their home. Having work done to your home doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. When it comes to finding a locksmith, make the process pain-free by taking these steps.
1. Get an estimate over the phone, even for emergency services. A reputable locksmith will not have a problem providing you with an estimate. Make sure you ask what payment methods they accept. While there are legitimate cash-only businesses, it is also very common for scammers to require cash payments.
2. Always ask your locksmith for ID. Not all states require licensing, but a good locksmith will have no issue providing professional and/or state ID. They may ask for your ID too. This is industry standard. The best locksmiths will do this to make sure you are the property owner.
3. Do your homework. Before you call a locksmith, run an internet search for their name. Look at any reviews that are available, and look for common ties or particularly bad service. Make sure the locksmith is insured– this is often prominently displayed on business websites and social media. The Associated Locksmiths of America is a trade organization that maintains a search engine for finding qualified locksmiths.
4. Be wary of unmarked vehicles and locksmiths who immediately suggest lock replacement and drilling. A reputable contractor will have the tools available to unlock almost any lock.
5. Ask about the hourly rate and any additional charges and fees. This will prevent unexpectedly high bills and unpleasant dealings with your contractor. Is there a mileage fee for traveling to you? What is their service call minimum? Is there an additional fee for emergency service calls?
It’s a good rule of thumb to approach all independent contractors with mild skepticism, because new scams pop up every day. It’s easy to forget that these scams are not the norm, and chances are, your locksmith isn’t trying to hang you out to dry. Approaching the search with a healthy level of doubt and asking the right questions are important first steps in choosing a home contractor, but nothing can replace your instinct. Trust your gut, and if a contractor gives you a bad feeling, do not use their services. When it comes to home security, it’s better safe than sorry.