This post is going to be all about an experience we had at a local shelter in Amherst, NY. It is just a little story that shows the generosity of people and also gives a couple tips to others that find themselves in a similar situation.
The town is quaint, clean, and nice in terms of the people and their generosity towards animals. This all came into play on that fateful August 1st day when we were locked out of the shelter. Normally this would not be a big deal but it was over 90 degrees and we were worried for the animals. We tried to break in but were unsuccessful, so we decided to try to call a locksmith. Because of our precarious situation, we called the first one we found without checking reviews or anything like that. They quoted us an $80 fee over the phone, and said the technician would be there within 10 minutes. At this point we were extremely pleased with the quality of the customer care, speed of arrival, and quoted price. Unfortunately this would all change very quickly.
The locksmith arrived and before doing anything else, he informed us the service charge was indeed $80, but traveling and other very obscure fees would come to a grand total of $300. Now, calling another locksmith at this point was out of the question, and we needed to get in there badly, so we paid the fee in question. He opened the door quickly and left without another word. Now, in any other situation we would never have caved to such a scam but because we were desperate, we did (and he knew we would).
So to help people out who potentially may find themselves in a similar situation, I’ll leave a couple tips for finding a locksmith below.
Check Their Location – Do They Have a Physical Address?
If you have time and are not in a predicament, check their address and make sure they are actually a local company. Directory style sites like the Findlocksmiths.org – local locksmith experts website are ok because they direct you to local businesses and have their own process for screening those they feature. Companies you do want to avoid however are ones that have no physical address listed or (when you check street view) it does not show a building. Shady companies based far away will typically send untrained locksmiths who want more money once they get to the job (which is what happened to us).
Do They Have Credentials?
All professional locksmiths/locksmith companies will have either a uniform or a company van/vehicle that is clearly marked with a logo, brand name, and slogan. Many will also wear ID badges because of the sensitive nature of the work they do (for more tips you can check out this locksmith promo video). Red flags should immediately be raised if the locksmith that arrives is in plain clothes, has a regular car with no company markings, and only takes cash. When all of these things happen at once, there is a very very good chance you are dealing with someone who will significantly mark up the price on you and it is best to walk away from the deal. Below is a very informative video by the Society of Professional Locksmiths that explains exactly what to look for and what to avoid (for those of you that are visual learners).
Those are the two main things I have learned to look out for, but if you want an in-depth analysis on warning signs, you can just watch the video posted above. I have also included a map of trusted local locksmiths from the Buffalo, New York area (posted below).