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Be cautious about unlicensed web-based locksmiths: BBB
If you've locked yourself out of your home, your first call for help might be to a local locksmith. But before you make that call, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) cautions that some locksmiths advertising online may not be local at all and may not even have professional training.
"When you are locked out of your home many people are trying to find the first local locksmith to open the door, but in some cases these locksmiths may not be local, or licensed to be locksmiths in B.C.," says Danielle Primrose, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Mainland British Columbia.
"Consumers take a safety risk in using an unlicensed locksmith and we hear of cases where consumers get charged several times more than the quote given over the phone."
BBB has received reports from consumers about so-called "local locksmiths" advertising online using a local telephone number and local address. But when you call the number, you're actually connected to a call centre in another province or the U.S. and there is no locksmith or locksmith business at the address listed in your area.
Many of these companies have multiple listings with different names, but the calls to each of these numbers go back to the same central number where operators dispatch untrained and unlicensed individuals to do the job.
One such company operating locally is Locksmith Pro. This company has purchased multiple domains ending with "locksmithpros.ca" with a preceding city name (for example, vancouverlocksmithpros.ca, surreylocksmithpros.ca, etc.).
On its various websites, the same 1-800-711-5754 toll-free number is listed. One locksmith business the BBB contacted in Calgary said that his company was cold-called by a person representing locksmithpros.ca and offered to provide website listing services to help generate more sales leads for the locksmith. The BBB asked to provide any information about this company and the locksmith said that the company does not want the owner's name to be given out.
Companies affiliated with the locksmithpros.ca URL often have logos that imply Accreditation with the Better Business Bureau and the Institutional Locksmiths Organization of Canada (ILOC). These companies are not affiliated or members of either organization, or are not licensed as locksmiths in B.C.
To further gain legitimacy these websites may also advertise they are licensed, bonded and insured and may list a local address which often are fake or not a commercial address. In some cases they may even use an address of a legitimate provincially licensed locksmith to further the appearance of legitimacy.
Consumers who have hired these companies allege that they have been overcharged for products and services, received bad advice or poor workmanship, or have had difficulty contacting the business to correct problems.
BBB offers the following advice for hiring a locksmith:
• Do your research. Don't just pick the first "local" company you find online. Check them out first with BBB at www.mbc.bbb.org to make sure you are choosing a trustworthy company. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations.
• Confirm the address. Some disreputable companies list street addresses to give the impression that they're local, but the address may belong to someone else, if it exists at all. Check to make sure they are where they claim to be by cross-checking their phone number online.
• Play the name game. If a company answers the phone with a generic name rather than a company-specific name, be wary. Ask for the legal name of the business. If the person refuses, call another locksmith.
• Check the paperwork. When the locksmith arrives, ask for identification, a business card and their security worker license. In B.C., locksmiths are licensed and regulated under the Security Services Act through the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General, Security Programs Division. Also make sure that they are insured, so you know costs will be covered should any damage be done to your personal property. You may contact Security Programs Division toll free at 1-855-587-0185 to confirm the licensing status of the business. Consumers also may confirm the licensing status of a locksmith on line at: https://eservice.pssg.gov.bc.ca/security/utilities/
• Show your identification. Expect the locksmith to ask you for identification, as well. A legitimate locksmith should confirm your identity and make sure you're the property owner before doing any work.
Identified web-based locksmith businesses not licensed to operate in BC are listed below:
Vancouver Locksmith Master
24/7 Vancouver Locksmith
Burnaby Locksmith Master
Coquitlam Locksmith Pro's
North Vancouver Locksmith Pro's
Richmond Locksmith Master
Surrey Locksmith Master
Surrey Locksmith Pros
Total Pro Locksmiths
123 24 Hours Locksmith
SAK Lock & Secure
Tsawwassen Locksmith Master
Vancouver Locksmith Pros
For more tips you can trust, visit www.mbc.bbb.org