Locksmith Blog

Locksmith Blog

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Metrolocks Locksmith Blog

Welcome to our monthly Metrolocks Locksmith Blog

We will be posting a wide variety of information about locksmithing. Some of our log posts will give you tips and advice that will save you time and money, while others will share with you interesting locksmith stories and experiences. Feel free to contact us with your comments and opinions.

What you should know before buying high security locks

Very often locksmith companies will try to push high security locks to their customers without properly informing them about the subject. Many times, such transactions leave the locksmith companies with a nice profit and the customers with a false sense of security.

Replacing your standard house or business locks with high security locks is a very expensive project. Each lock can cost between $100 to $500 depending on the brand you are buying and who you buy them from. Just because we are spending significantly on our security does not always mean that we are actually as secure as we think or as the locksmith promised us.

High security locks are designed with a lot of thought. They are made from tough-to-drill metals and patented keyway and pin systems. Picking these locks is close to impossible and drilling them is noisy and time consuming. If gaining entry to a property would solely depend on defeating a lock cylinder then high security locks are the optimal defense.

There is no doubt that in a perfect world where all of us have unlimited funds to allocate to home and business security, upgrading to high security locks will always make the property more secure. But the reality for most of us is that the amount of money we can allocate to locks is very limited. Most of us cannot afford spending thousands of dollars to upgrade all the locks in our home or business with high security locks.

Just because you have high security locks on your home does not mean that your house is impenetrable. If someone really wants to get in, they can many times kick down the door or break a window. Most homes in the Denver area are built with weak strike plates and door frames, and can easily give in by kicking the door really hard.

Some of the less costly ways to make your home more secure instead or in addition to upgrading to high security locks are the following:

  • Get an alarm
  • Change strike plate screws to longer ones
  • Re-key your locks
  • Install spool pins in your existing locks
  • Get better non-high security locks
  • Get a dog :)

How to avoid getting scammed when calling a locksmith

It is very important for everyone to be aware of the unregulated state of the locksmith industry nationwide. All across the country many big and small locksmith companies use very unethical and sometimes illegal business practices to take advantage of us, the good and trusting consumers.

First, let me tell you what you are up against when you find yourself in need of a locksmith. Even though many locksmith companies are good and honest, sometimes it can be very hard to tell the good apples from the bad apples. The reason for this is that the bad locksmith companies use deceiving advertising methods to disguise themselves as local, reputable and reasonably priced.

Deceiving methods

Here are only some of the methods the unscrupulous locksmith companies use to take advantage of your desperation. For example, imagine that you lock your only set of keys inside your car. When you look online or in the yellow pages under locksmith, you will see many ads with big local numbers and addresses claiming to be local. Do not be deceived, anybody can get a local area code from anywhere and the address might be phony. These companies advertise under many different generic aliases like AA Locksmith or 24/7 locksmith to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. When you call them to shop for a price, some will flat out lie to you about their price and others will try to get away with just giving you a partial quote.

In the case that you accidentally call such a company you might not know you did until their technician arrives to your location. Once they arrive, it is very likely they are not employees of the company, but are just private contractors that work on commission. This sub-contractor will try to charge as much as possible and only lower the price, if it is their last resort. These technicians are usually trained to lie and deceive the costumer to make him think that the excessive price is normal and there is a good reason for it. So even if you were told the price would be $30 or $55, their tech, once there, will try to tell you that your car is "special" and the price to unlock your car is actually $120 or even $180. If you refuse to pay and tell them to go away, they are instructed to try to intimidate you by telling you that you have to pay a service call for them to come out. Some even threaten to call the police if they don't get paid.

Telling the good from the bad ones

The best way of not getting scammed is to call a locksmith company that you used once before which you know and trust. And I want to emphasize the "know and trust" part. Just because you used someone in the past, doesn't always mean they are one of the good guys. In most cases people don't hire locksmiths very often and when they do they rarely remember who they hired the last time. This is what makes the locksmith industry the perfect Petri dish for unethical business practices.

In the case you do not have a contact number for a good locksmith and you are just shopping for one, here are some failsafe tips of how to make the right choice:

  1. Quick Research - Before you call a locksmith company, try to Google their name to see what comes up about them. Also check the www.BBB.org website to see their rating. If they don't show up at all in the BBB database it is usually just as bad as being badly rated.
  2. Demand Total Price - There are few types of locksmith services that cannot be priced over the phone, but it is not the case for the most common ones. Here is the list that includes, but is not limited to, all the types of services that should be fully priced before they send someone out:
  3. Company Name Consistency - Many of the unscrupulous locksmith companies use different aliases on their advertisements to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. This way if someone wants to post a bad review about them, they will not know their real company name. When you call a locksmith using a number from an ad, ask the operator what is the name of the company. If the name does not match the name on the ad, that is a big red flag. Reputable locksmith companies will consistently stand behind one brand and will never hide behind misleading aliases.
  4. Expect Proper Treatment - The best way to know how much a locksmith company values your business is by the way they talk to you. If they are rude or impolite over the phone, it is strongly recommended to hire someone else.

These four tips are a great filter to weed out the bad guys and to end up hiring a reputable and honest locksmith company. If for some reason, a technician arrives and tries to pull an unreasonable price hike, tell them to leave immediately. If they try aggressively to charge a service call, do not fall into their trap. They mislead you and you are not morally nor legally obligated to pay them a dime. Once they leave make sure to report them to the Better Business Bureau and if you have the time, do your part by warning other consumers by posting reviews online.

Protect yourself against lock bumping

A big problem that I want to bring to your attention this month is the illegal use of lock bumping. Lock bumping is a very common technique used by crooks to break into businesses and homes nationwide. It is becoming progressively more popular because of the internet and it easily works on over 90% of American locks. Thieves like lock bumping, because it is quick, quiet and leaves no sign of forced entry. Bump keys are so easy and convenient that they are even used by locksmiths.

A bump key (also known as a "999 key"), is created from a key blank that matches the keyway of the locks that are intended to be bumped. Even though, in the last decades more and more lock bumping “how to” videos and articles have been published, I intentionally do not want to contribute to this problem by writing about it myself. The purpose of this blog post is to make you aware of the problem and to teach you how to protect your home against lock bumping.

There are different measures you can take to prevent becoming a victim of lock bumping. The first method which is the most straight forward one is investing in bump-resistant locks. Schlage Primus, Medeco, Mul-T-Lock and BiLock are brands that offer high-security bump-resistant locks. These locks can be very expensive, but besides being bump-resistant, they also provide a higher level of security. You can also go the less expensive route like the Kwikset Smart-Key or the Master Bump-Stop, which are not considered high-security locks, but are still bump-resistant.

Other things you can do to make yourself and your loved ones safer against lock bumping is to get a dog, install an alarm and if you have friendly neighbors, get to know them. Adding Chain door locks or any other locks that can be operated only from the inside, can offer protection against lock bumping when you are home.

At the end of the day, if someone really wants to get into your home, they can usually break the window or find another weak spot for entry. The best way to discourage the bad guys from choosing your house as their next target is to adopt as many security measures as possible. This way you will make it so inconvenient to the extent that they would have to choose a different target.

Help us self regulate the denver locksmith industry

A couple of months ago we posted an article about the rampant scamming that occurs in the locksmithing industry. As a local Denver locksmith I want to turn to you, the Denverite consumer, for help. Join us in the mission of self regulating our Denver locksmith industry, by raising awareness and sharing your locksmith experiences.

So how do you go about doing that? First, educate your friends, family and coworkers about the situation. An easy way of doing that is by recommending them to read our How to Avoid Getting Scammed When Calling a Locksmith article. Second, if you have a good or bad locksmith experience, let the world know about it. You can post reviews online, share your opinion on tweeter and Facebook, or blog about it to your readers. Whatever you can do to help other consumers differentiate the honest from the sketchy Denver locksmiths is a "win win" for everybody.

Many major cities and states nationwide have enacted a number of regulations in the last years, to make it harder for unscrupulous locksmith businesses to operate. Colorado and Denver City and County are way behind when it comes to locksmith laws; this is why many shady locksmiths are moving in and setting up shop here. Since our government is not doing enough to fix the problem, it is up to us to protect ourselves. This is the purpose of this blog post.Let's use the power of internet and word of mouth to reward our good Denver locksmiths and make the bad ones feel unwelcome.