Servicing Customers After Midnight

May 2, 2017

Late one night a homeowner wanted to access his basement wine cellar room. Unfortunately the key had been misplaced and the door could not be opened. With the advent of modern technology, cell phones have supplanted phone books as the go-to device for any information including an emergency phone number for locksmith assistance.

A rash of listings were displayed on the owner’s cell phone and the homeowner called the first locksmith company on the list which offered 24-hour service. While cell phone listings can display information about supposed locksmith services provided, there is no way of knowing the expertise level of the arriving technician.

This wine cellar door had a mortise latchset installed complete with lever handles. We cannot report on the discussion between the homeowner and the locksmith technician about how the door would be unlocked. However, final damage to the door indicates that the lock cylinder was first forcibly removed. Apparently the technician was not successful in probing for the latch retractor in the lock case and finally drilled three large holes into the door to reach the lock case. Smaller additional holes were drilled into the lock case itself and the door was eventually opened. The technician presented the homeowner with a bill of approximately $500 for emergency locksmith services while leaving the homeowner with a broken lock and a damaged door.

Next day the homeowner took extra time and sourced a known, well established locksmith company. While the door was heavily damaged, the locksmith technician from this company determined that the door could still be repaired. A decorative Emtek mortise latch with lever handles was chosen to replace the old broken latchset.

Larger holes in the damaged door were trimmed to accept wood pieces. Smaller holes required by the original lock installation were covered with filler material. Finished sanding brought the door back to its original shape. Final painting of the door surface will be completed by the homeowner. An Emtek non-locking mortise leverset was installed since it was decided that key locking was not necessary.

The homeowner is reportedly in the process of trying to recoup some or all of the money paid to the 24-hour locksmith service. Occurrences such as extremely high charges and poor workmanship by one locksmith service tend to tarnish the reputation of all locksmiths. A lesson to be learned is that advertising pays. If the well established locksmith company had been at the top of the cell phone list, this whole tragedy would not have happened.