Homeowners are urged to be on guard during lockdown after a rogue locksmith billed a woman £ 1,465 for a 30-minute job that was originally listed as £ 200.
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) has issued a sharp warning after worrying that new statistics are highlighting the extent of the problem, which is expected to worsen as the pandemic progresses.
In a survey of its members, 66% were called to a job after homeowners accidentally called a rogue locksmith in the past 12 months
In total, respondents have visited more than 300 botched jobs with a rogue fitter in the past year, and 65% of respondents said rogues overwhelm customers by £ 200 or more.
The MLA has been contacted more than 500 times in the past 12 months with stories of unscrupulous activities by people disguised as locksmiths.
As unemployment rates rise after companies cut thousands of jobs while Covid-19 continues to weigh on the economy, the MLA predicts an increase in unscrupulous activity in the industry.
A customer named Lily called a company in her London apartment at 11:30 p.m. last month when a bolt failed. She was listed as £ 200 – and then received a bill for £ 1,465 for a 30-minute job.
Lily, 24, said, “I said to the dealer, ‘OMG this is crazy, it’s a crazy amount of money’.” He said she would get it back from her landlord and blamed the cost of a nightly 911 call. “
After contacting Citizens Advice and the company, she was offered a £ 125 refund.
Steffan George, MLA General Manager, said, “The industry is unregulated so it’s easy to establish yourself as a locksmith with no training, experience or insurance.
“During the pandemic, we expect the number of rogue locksmiths involved to increase as people, under increasing financial pressure, view this as an easy way to make money.”
Homeowners are also watching their finances more closely, which means they may be tempted by the lure of good business.
Mr. Georrge said, “Experience shows that villains do an inferior job or overload at best, after initially quoting a cheaper price in a tactic known as bait-and-switch, and sometimes charging ten times that of an inspected locksmith or worse, behaving in a threatening manner or withholding keys for locks they have just installed.
“Hundreds of non-certified people already work in the industry. With the expected increase in numbers, people need to be aware of the dangers and know how to choose a reputable locksmith to ensure they don’t fall victim to a rogue. “
65% of members surveyed said a rogue locksmith’s tell-tale signs indicate an unusually low price, but are vague about the experience and unsure how they would do the job.
A third of respondents said the most important thing people should look for when choosing a professional is calls that are answered by a locksmith and not forwarded to a call center with details about the locksmith doing the job , possible are. are not provided or are difficult to obtain. In addition, tradespeople should be happy to talk about previous jobs and experiences, and provide photos and recommendations.
Mr. Georrgeadded: “Homeowners should turn to a reputable company that employs insured and trained locksmiths – someone you can trust to keep you and your home safe.”
To complain about a rogue locksmith or for prices and general advice, Click here.