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They aren’t going to get that too many other places. Why do you do that?
I’m busy and want to keep them as a customer. They appreciate it and when they hear there’s no charge, they wait for me instead of going somewhere else.
Are there times when you quote service charges?
Of course. I have a rule. I will not leave to go anywhere without giving them a price first with one exception. The exception is only for commercial work and if it’s something I would handle. I’ll make them aware of the service charge but I wouldn’t charge them twice (once for going out and then again when I come back to do the job).
If someone calls asking you to look at malfunctioning exit devices or lock hardware, will you do that or are you strictly an automotive locksmith?
Yes, if it’s within 5 or 10 minutes of here, I’ll go out and look at it. If it’s something I can handle I’ll give them a price and if it’s something I’d rather not handle then I’ll refer them to someone else. I have a lot of people I can refer these jobs to and in turn they refer the auto work back to me.
How have you benefited from your police training in relation to locksmithing?
Taking reports from people and dealing with the public in tense situations. You’re asking every question under the sun and it’s carried over into this business. It’s good and bad. There are a lot of people who don’t want to answer questions on the phone and I don’t understand it. I try to get as much information as possible and a lot of people just get mad and even curse and hang up. They wouldn’t like it if I had to hit them with a bigger bill than I told them on the phone. You’ll never hear from any of my customers that I told them something different before I came then when I’m there. I run an honest operation.
Speaking of being honest, what’s going on here with the scammers? Your name was mentioned at the recent GPLA meeting when the folks from the Yellow Book came to address the issue.
As you can see I keep this opened for customers to see. (There’s a phone book opened on the counter). In the White page section there are about 300 or so phone numbers, all for the same locksmith business showing bogus addresses.
How does this happen and how does it affect your business?
For these scammers to get 400 or 500 phone numbers in there is ridiculous. All of the numbers from the white pages wind up on the Internet and in directory assistance. 411 refers people to a locksmith depending on where they are. This scam is huge. We don’t know where these people are. They could have people in 411 and/or manipulating the Internet listings. I’ve heard all kinds of stories and possibilities.
If these were legitimate businesses, they wouldn’t spend so much money to do what they do. If you’re a real locksmith with legitimate locations, you don’t have to spend so much money on bogus ads or listings.
Usually when someone calls one of these numbers, it’s directed to a phone bank. I’ve done this; you can call one of the numbers and while you’re on with them, you call another listed number and hear the same background. I’ve called and had a three-way call where the two people I called were now talking to each other and realized it while sitting in the same room. It seems to be an elaborate set up. They generate lots of money by using a bait and switch. They quote a service charge for maybe $39-$55 plus labor and then the so-called technician has to see what the problem is. A real locksmith knows what it takes to open a car with the right information and will quote a specific dollar amount.
I’ve heard stories about people who have paid a so-called locksmith as much as $300 to come to their home and not repair the problem. In one instance he came 100 miles in a New York taxicab. One woman actually paid the fee. How could this happen and why would someone not call the police?
Day in and day out I see that common sense is very uncommon. Only about half the people who call here know what they’re asking for. Half the people don’t even know what they’re driving. They’ll call me while standing right by the car and they can’t tell me what kind of car it is.