The Master Locksmiths Association is warning homeowners to be on their guard for rogue locksmiths ripping off consumers. Here it explains what to watch out for.
This is a guest post by the Master Locksmiths Association. All views expressed are its own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) is the largest trade body in the UK representing the profession – a survey of our members has revealed that 66% have been called to a job after homeowners inadvertently called out a rogue locksmith over the past 12 months.
Collectively, respondents have attended more than 300 botched jobs involving a rogue locksmith over the last year and 65% of respondents said rogues are overcharging customers by £200 or more.
Consumers get in touch with us every day with stories about unscrupulous activities by people masquerading as locksmiths. At best, rogues will do a sub-standard job or overcharge after initially quoting a cheaper price in a tactic known as bait-and-switch. This is a type of retail fraud whereby consumers are enticed by a low price only to be hit with a bill that bears no resemblance to the original quote.
Experience has also told us rogues often display threatening behaviour and have even been known to withhold keys to locks they’ve fitted. Consumers need to be aware of the dangers and know how to select a reputable locksmith to ensure they don’t fall victim.
Signs of a rogue locksmith
We’ve identified five tell tale signs that you’re dealing with a rogue locksmith:
🔑 1. Calls are answered by a call centre which makes it difficult to obtain details for the locksmith doing the job. This can also mean you don’t know who is doing the work as jobs are often subcontracted.
🔑 2. The company is ranked at or towards the top of online advertising listings. As they have paid to be there, this isn’t an indication about the quality of their work.
🔑 3. Being quoted an unusually low price – often advertised online at £39, £49 or £59.
🔑 4. The locksmith is vague about their experience and they may be reluctant to provide feedback about previous jobs or recommendations.
🔑 5. Drilling is a method of destructive entry and is only used as a last resort when all other methods haven’t worked with cylinders. Many rogues start with the drill and this should ring alarm bells.
How can we put a stop to this happening?
It’s important homeowners know how they can find a reputable firm which employs insured and competent locksmiths – someone who they can trust to protect them and their home. Your first port of call should be the MLA website where they can use our search function to find their nearest MLA-approved locksmith.
Anyone who has had work carried out by a locksmith that they’re not satisfied with should complain to Trading Standards, but they can also highlight it via MLA’s website where consumers can also find advice on how to choose a vetted, inspected and qualified locksmith, why they should use an MLA approved locksmith and information on typical average prices for common jobs obtained from MLA members across the UK, to ensure they don’t get overcharged.
You can also contact the MLA directly on firstname.lastname@example.org
The locksmith industry has enjoyed a history that spans hundreds of years and yet it remains completely unregulated. Anyone can advertise as, trade as, buy locksmith tools and call themselves a locksmith, with little or no training, and without going through a thorough vetting process or providing proof they’re competent to do the job.
It’s clear more needs to be done to put a stop to rogue locksmiths. Do you think regulation would prevent homeowners being hoodwinked and left out of pocket if locksmiths needed certification in order to trade? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
This was a guest post by the Master Locksmiths Association. All views expressed were its own and not necessarily shared by Which?.