Whenever you hire a professional service person to come to your home, you’re putting a great deal of trust in them. This is especially true of hiring a residential locksmith. If you’re locked out of your home, you’re in a vulnerable position to begin with, and you want to ensure that the person coming out to help you is someone who is trustworthy. Furthermore, locksmiths have access to tools that allow them to get into homes without keys, so you don’t want to hire someone with a history of theft or robbery. Some locksmiths have even been known to sell their customers’ information to burglars.
You also want to hire someone who is dependable and skilled––you don’t want to wait for a locksmith to come out to your house only to find out they can’t do the job. Unfortunately, in an emergency situation, you might not have the foresight to do all the necessary research before calling a locksmith. If you do have the time, here’s what you should look for when hiring locksmith services in NYC and beyond.
Ask Neighbors and Friends
Locksmiths aren’t just helpful for emergency lockout services for cars and homes. They can also switch out locks and door knobs, install new doors, replace mailboxes, and perform a variety of security-related tasks. There are many reasons to hire a locksmith and odds are that someone in your social circle––friends, family, or neighbors––can offer a recommendation for you.
Word-of-mouth recommendations are priceless for locksmiths and they remain one of their best sources of referrals. This is because we trust our friends and family––they have no incentive to give us false information or recommend someone they had a less-than-stellar experience with. If someone you know has positive things to say about a locksmith they’ve used in the past, you’ll still want to check reviews online and make sure they’re licensed, but if everything checks out, that’s probably your best bet.
Look at Reviews Online
What did we do in the days before online reviews? Most review sites do a good job deleting inauthentic reviews, so what’s left is fairly reliable. Sites like Yelp!, Angie’s List, and Google are the gold standard when it comes to customer reviews. You may be able to find some reviews on Facebook as well.
Look specifically for customers who were dealing with a situation similar to yours and were satisfied with the locksmith’s work. If you want to install new sliding glass doors for your patio, for example, but all the reviews on Google for a particular locksmith are about their emergency lockout service, that doesn’t give you the information you need. When you’re looking for a locksmith to help you get into your car at 2am on a Saturday morning, a locksmith who only has rave reviews for residential locksmith services might not be the best help.
Another way to search for and find information about the locksmith you’re considering hiring is to Google their business name along with words like “review” and “complaint.” Any business that’s been operating for a number of years will inevitably have a few bad reviews or consumer complaints, but you should be able to get an idea of whether or not they are valid, if they apply to your situation, or if they are far outnumbered by positive reviews. If reviews were initially positive and are now trending negative, that’s another red flag as well––it could mean that the business changed hands or that a new hire is not as skilled or reliable as previous employees.
Call the Better Business Bureau
Although online review sites have largely taken the place of the Better Business Bureau in the eyes of many consumers, it can still be a valuable resource. If you’ve narrowed down your selection to one or two different locksmiths, you can call the BBB and ask for more information about them. Specifically, they can tell you if there are any serious complaints that you should be aware of.
Make Sure the Locksmith Company Is Local––and Not a Scam
According to the Federal Trade Commission, many consumers get scammed when looking for a locksmith; they search online to find someone who appears to be local, but the number they call is for a national call center. The call center dispatcher will then send out a poorly trained local locksmith who shows up to your home, charges you more than the estimate you received, and insists that you pay for the service in cash.
To avoid a scary situation like this, ask for the legal name of the business when you call; the dispatcher should be able to provide that for you. “Locksmith” or “Locksmith Service” are not acceptable answers. Ask them to confirm their address and location.
When you provide your address, see if they seem to recognize prominent local landmarks, i.e., “I’m on the corner across from the high school, next to Starbucks.” A local dispatcher should know what you’re referencing, while someone at a call center several states (or even countries!) away will have no idea what you’re talking about.
It’s also important to ask for an estimate––make sure it includes mileage, after hours fees if applicable, and tool usage fees. If the estimate seems unreasonably low, it may be too good to be true. Insist that the locksmith bring a written copy of the estimate with them.
Verify That the Locksmith Is Insured
When you call, ask to find out if the locksmith is licensed and insured. Then, when they arrive to your home, ask them to show their proof of insurance, their identification, and their license (if you’re in New Jersey or another state that requires locksmiths to be licensed). It may feel like overkill, but a professional locksmith expects such questions. Indeed, a good locksmith will also ask you for your identification to ensure that you’re not trying to break into someone else’s home or car––a surprisingly easy way for people to steal a car is to pose as its owner and call a locksmith to let them in, so trained locksmiths know to ask for their customer’s driver’s license or state ID prior to starting any work.
A locksmith should be bonded and insured so that, in the event that they do damage to your home, the repairs will be covered. Verifying insurance coverage is another way to be certain that you’re dealing with a reputable business. A con artist will not go through the process of insuring a fake business, so you can feel confident once your chosen locksmith has shown proof of current insurance.
Hire Someone Reliable
Online reviews are one component of making sure the locksmith you hire is reliable––if there are numerous complaints about a locksmith not showing up, showing up late, forgetting important tools, etc., it’s a good sign that they are not dependable. While they may be perfectly competent and skilled at what they do, dependability is critical when you’re hiring a locksmith.
Another way to judge reliability is to look at their location relative to yours, as well as their hours. A locksmith that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is located close to your home will be more dependable for you than someone who only operates during business hours and lives on the other side of town. It’s important to have reasonable expectations and realize that reliability can be a relative thing.
Pay With a Credit Card
A reputable locksmith should accept payment via credit card. This is important because it protects you against fraud. If a locksmith is insistent that you pay in cash, you should be suspicious––cash is impossible to trace, which is why it’s the preferred method of payment when a locksmith isn’t on the up-and-up. These days, it’s quite easy for locksmiths to use mobile payment systems like Square for accepting payments with both credit and debit cards, so there’s no reason for them to refuse to take anything but cash.
Call For a Professional Locksmith in Midtown Manhattan
If you’re in Midtown Manhattan––or anywhere else in New York City––and you’ve locked yourself out of your home, can’t get into your car, or need to have security equipment installed in your place of business, contact Your Local Locksmith NY. Our professional locksmiths are highly skilled and trained. You can feel safe knowing that Your Local Locksmith NY is bonded, insured, and locally owned and operated. Get an estimate now by calling us at 347-801-2481.