For Immediate Release
November 15, 2006
DALLAS, TX - Consumers in Middle Tennessee are warned to beware of individuals posing as locksmiths who perform unnecessary work or charge exorbitant un-locking fees. The Associated Locksmiths of America, Inc. (ALOA), an international association of locksmith and physical security professionals, recently issued an official warning for major cities in the area. The Middle Tennessee Locksmith Association is an affiliate of ALOA.
"This scheme entices locked-out consumers with large Yellow Pages ads that give the impression you are calling a local business," says ALOA's Executive Director, Charles W. Gibson, Jr., "These companies manipulate listings with multiple false addresses and phone numbers to make it seem like a neighborhood businesses. In actuality, they are calling out-of-state operations that are not locksmith companies. The consumer is quoted a reasonable price over the phone, but when a person posing as a locksmith finishes the job, the consumer is charged a considerable amount more for unnecessary and sub-standard work."
ALOA has created a 10-point checklist for detecting a locksmith company that may be engaging in this scheme. "Many of the items in this checklist are legal by themselves," adds Gibson. "However, if several are used together, you may be dealing with a con artist."
1. Not Familiar with Your Area To make sure the company is local, make sure that they are familiar with your area of town.
2. "Locksmith Service." Unscrupulous individuals often operate under many business names/aliases. Thus, they must answer the phone with a generic phrase like, "Locksmith service." If they answer this way, ask, "What is the legal name of your business, and what is your street address?"
3. ALOA Logo. Does the Yellow Pages ad contain a logo that makes them appear to belong to ALOA? While many locksmiths do belong to the Association, some unscrupulous individuals trick the consumer by falsely using the ALOA logo.You can always check to see if in fact these businesses are members by going to www.findalocksmith.com.
4. Unclear Business Name. Look closely at the ad(s). Is the specific name of the business clearly identified? Does it appear that the dealer actually operates under several names? If a Web address is listed, does the name on the Web site match the name on the ad?
5. "Under Same Ownership." This confusing statement, often found in small print at the bottom of a full-page ad in the Yellow Pages, is often legally required to prevent a business from deceiving the public. The statement itself may be a warning sign that the company operates under several aliases.
6. Giant Ads. Full-page ads in the Yellow Pages are very expensive. Many unscrupulous individuals can afford these ads because they grossly overcharge for unnecessary parts and services.
7. Discounts Galore. Consumers are often attracted to ads that offer discounts, e.g., for Senior Citizens, Military, AAA, AARP, etc. But which is better: paying full price for a $110 repair, or getting a 10 percent discount off a $600 bill for the same repair?
8. "Lowest Prices." Unwary consumers are attracted to this statement on ads. If you truly want the "lowest price," call around to different locksmiths.Ask what the quoted price entails.Ask if that is just a service fee and if the locksmith will have further charges when they show up to your car or home.
9. "Service Within an Hour." Unscrupulous individuals typically focus on service work, often taking advantage of consumers that need emergency service. These individuals know they can charge you more for a lock if you're in a hurry.
10. "Rated #1 in Customer Service." This statement often constitutes false advertising. If you call a locksmith that boasts such a rating, ask them to substantiate this claim. If the locksmith can't do it, call someone else.
If you need locksmith services, ALOA recommends that you call two or three locksmiths and ask them to give you a detailed price for a lockout. Never pay for service in advance, and always ask for "defective" parts to be returned to you.
If you feel that you have been the victim of such a scheme, ALOA recommends that you contact the office of the Attorney General in your state. Most Attorneys General have a division that specializes in fraudulent or deceptive business practices. In Tennessee, you may contact the Consumer Proection Division of the Tennessee Attorney General's Office by calling (615) 741-1671 or through the Attorney General's office Web site at http://www.attorneygeneral.state.tn.us/.
The Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) is the world's largest organization for locksmiths and other physical security professionals. ALOA is dedicated to being the consumer's first line of defense in physical security by increasing the effectiveness and productivity of locksmiths through educational programs and materials that address broad security interests. ALOA's activities include the ALOA Continuing Education (ACE) program, the ALOA Annual Convention & Security Expo and the ALOA Training Center, which is based in Dallas, Texas. ALOA leads the way for advanced and improved security performance by providing members and the security community with access to a full range of educational programs and services.