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It happened again. After realizing you were late for work, you rushed out to the car and started it, only to realize that you left your access card inside the house. Leaving your car running in the driveway, you rush back inside the house to retrieve it. The only problem is that upon returning to your car, you realize that you’re locked out of it – and it’s running. Worst of all, your husband is away on a business trip and he’s the only other person with a spare set of keys. Yikes!

What to Do, What to Do?

It’s not hard to see what needs to be done. Unless you want to smash a window and risk injury to yourself and damage to your vehicle, the best option is to call a professional locksmith to come and bail you out of this sticky situation. Naturally, you probably reach into your pocket, retrieve your smartphone and do a bit of Googling to see who provides such a service in your area. You stumble across the first decent company you see online and make the call, desperate to get back into your car and be on with your day. But make no mistake about it – not all locksmiths are created equal. And while a particular locksmith may appear qualified and credible online, they can be everything but that when they arrive to the scene. In fact, many of them can take advantage of your desperate situation to unethically charge you even more for a rather routine service.

It goes without saying that when you’re in a bind like the one mentioned above, you might not have time to read online reviews and check around to see who does trusted, quality work. But there are other ways that you can avoid being taken advantage of. Here’s a look at how to decipher between a good and bad locksmith when you’re in a bind:

Plan ahead: You’ve probably heard the old saying “Plan for the worst, but hope for the best.” This may apply to a lot of things in your life, which is why having an emergency contact list handy at any time of the day always makes for good planning. Be sure to include a qualified locksmith on this emergency contact list. You never know when it might come in handy. Ask around and check online reviews in advance to determine who is the best locksmith to work within your area.

Look for local companies, not national ones: The best locksmith tends to be one that’s local and specific to the area that you live in. Beware of the national locksmiths, as they’re the ones that tend to pump the most dollars into spammy online marketing. Many of these national companies make up for what they spend on marketing by offering poor service. They’ll often show up in unmarked vehicles, their techs are often presented poorly and they have a tendency to get adversarial with customers and overcharge. Always go local if you can.

Ask about insurance: A good locksmith is always insured. Don’t do business with one who isn’t.

Failure to give estimates: A good locksmith will know exactly how to best solve the problem that you describe on the phone and can quote you an accurate price. An unethical locksmith, on the other hand, might state that he needs to see the problem for himself before he can give you an accurate quote. Steer clear of these types of locksmiths, as they’re likely looking to take advantage of your situation and charge you much more for the service than what it will really cost.

Look for signs of credibility: If a locksmith knows they’re good, they won’t be afraid to showcase their qualifications. After all, accolades and certifications can help them to gain a competitive advantage over the competition. And most of the time, these qualifications might include Angie’s List preferred vendor recognition and more. Look for these icons and logos, which will usually be placed at the bottom of their website. Also look for any awards they’ve earned, as locksmiths will be happy to promote these accolades on their websites as a means of differentiating themselves from the competition.


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