When you choose a locksmith, you’re putting your property’s security into the hands of a stranger. It’s a big leap of faith, and often, it’s one you wind up taking blindly. After all, most emergency calls to locksmiths happen because you’ve locked yourself out of your home, vehicle or business; that means you don’t necessarily have time to shop around and ask your friends and colleagues for a recommended locksmith you can trust. Most locksmiths are chosen on the spur of the moment using the Internet or, less often, the telephone listings.
Professional locksmiths know this, and they try to make the search simple by providing as much helpful advice on their site as possible to aid in the search for a reputable service provider. They understand lock out customers are usually anxious, worried or in a hurry to gain entry to their property, and they want to minimize stress and provide the best service as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, scam artists also know the situation most people are in when they call for a lock out, and they use that as an opportunity to pad their pockets.
Consider this common scenario:
You call a locksmith or find a locksmith online who advertises a flat rate to come to your home, business or vehicle and unlock your property. Once they come to your location, they present you with a bill that’s substantially higher – sometimes hundreds of dollars higher. When you question them, they explain the flat fee is just the basic service charge for them to come to your location; the additional fee is for actually opening the lock. This type of scam occurs most commonly for car lockouts, when most customers are anxious to get in their cars and leave, which means they’re more likely to agree to the inflated bill. In fact, the ALOA has received complaints of many consumers who found themselves locked out of their homes and were charged well over $1,000 to remove and replace a simple, low-cost lock.
Many scam artists and unscrupulous companies use the Internet to their advantage, creating the appearance of a local locksmith shop with a local number or bogus address so customers will be more likely to trust them. What actually happens? In most cases, calls are actually routed to a number far away, to a central network aimed at bilking as many consumers as possible.
Look for ALOA designation
Fortunately, there is one way you can quickly determine if a locksmith is trustworthy and skilled: Look for the ALOA designation. ALOA stands for Associated Locksmiths of America, and it’s an organization that’s dedicated to establishing, reviewing and upholding professional locksmith standards, practices and educational efforts among locksmiths. The association has more than 10,000 members worldwide, and its goal is to increase the effectiveness of locksmiths by helping them get the training they need in an ever-changing security landscape.
ALOA member locksmiths have shown they, too, are dedicated to the highest levels of security and professionalism and that they have the training and expertise to help you with your needs, from the simplest tasks to the most complex.
How does the ALOA ensure locksmiths meet these higher standards? With plenty of education, testing and certification opportunities for its members. For instance:
- ALOA offers online training as well as more than 100 on-site classes during the association’s annual convention and at weekend seminars held throughout the year aimed at providing educational resources to residential locksmith, commercial locksmith and vehicle locksmith professionals. In addition to learning presentations, the association website offers a video library so members can keep up on developments in security and professional locksmith skills and services.
- The association’s Proficiency Registration program (PRP) provides five levels of certification, adhering to rigorous standards that help identify ALOA locksmiths as leaders in the industry. The association has certified thousands of locksmiths and provides the licensing exams and regulatory guidance for several states and city agencies.
Most of all, the ALOA designation adds up to peace of mind for consumers like you. By looking for a locksmith with the ALOA designation, you know you’re selecting a true professional in the field. ALOA professional locksmith members are dedicated to providing top-notch customer service, and they’re also guided by a strong ethics protocol put in place by the ALOA for all its membership.
What’s more, membership in the ALOA isn’t free – there are membership dues. That alone can be a great deterrent to scam companies, most of which are trying to keep their operational costs as low as possible while raking in as much as they can in fees from unsuspecting consumers.
If you’ve been the victim of a locksmithing scam like the ones described in this post, the first thing you should do is contact your state attorney general’s office to file a complaint. Making the legal authorities aware of the problem is the first step in helping those same authorities identify the scam artists and put a stop to this type of behavior.
And if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re locked out of your home, business or car, be sure to look for the ALOA designation so you can feel confident you’re dealing with a professional locksmith who is dedicated to serving your needs in the most professional, skilled and ethical manner. Great Valley Lockshop is a proud ALOA member. Contact us today to find out more about our services and any questions about finding a professional locksmith in the Philadelphia area. Give us a call at (610) 644-5334 or send an email to [email protected].