There are quite a few people that go through life never having to hire a locksmith.
They are lucky enough to have the same set of locks for years and never need a reason to change them, or if they do, they are handy enough to be able to change the locks themselves.
Others are in the “pay someone else to do it” generation and are lucky enough to be able to justify the expense of hiring a professional to do this job for them, often when they move into a new residence. This is a great way to establish a relationship with a locksmith company and be certain that the person you are dealing with is a professional who works for a fair price.
The other unfortunate group of people that find themselves in need of this type of service is usually in the case of an emergency.
Yes residential locks can fail, especially the dead bolt of passage lock on a front door. This is when unprofessional, pseudo locksmith companies have the consumer at their mercy, charging unreal prices that start out as a forty five dollar service call and can quickly escalate into an over-inflated charge in excess of eight hundred dollars!
To make matters worse, these companies often prey on seniors, who can ill afford to pay a unjustified bill.
I asked the pros at 24 locksmith Toronto what separates the pro’s from the want to be pro’s and here is what I came away with:
Inquire about pricing over the phone, ask how much it is for the call out, and how much it is per hour to remove the lock and install the new one. Of course, prices for your new lock set will vary from company to company and will also fluctuate based on the quality of the lock set your decide to purchase. Reputable locksmith companies generally sell equipment that is superior to they typical selection available at most hardware stores.
When the technician arrives he should be asking you questions to determine which part of the lock system is giving you trouble. As with most mechanically related services, the best info a tech can get is from the customer as to what is the problem is.
If it is the dead bolt, the first thing any pro will do is try to “pick” the lock with a set of specialized tools. Many techs can open a locked door in under two minutes. If the technician tells you it is the dead bolt and the first thing he does is reach for a drill to attempt to drill the center of the deadbolt out, this is a HUGE red flag. This is a certain indication that you are not dealing with a professional and you should not let the tech proceed. Aside from indicating that you are not dealing with a competent locksmith, you can also expect a hefty bill at the end of the job. If you do proceed to let this person work on your locks be prepared!
As much as there are unscrupulous companies out there that farm locksmith jobs out from national call centers to sub contractors in your area, there are also plenty of unrealistic customers. The pros have all kind of stories of doing jobs in horrid weather conditions at most undesirable hours, only to have the customer refuse to pay them. Quite often the argument and possible legal battle that will ensue is not worth the companies time or trouble, so the company and the technician often get left holding the bag.
If you do find a professional company that responds to your call with professionalism and fair prices, treat them as they have treated you and reward them for bailing you out of your predicament.