Aug 15, 2013 6:02 PM by Matthew Schwartz
Jason Dodd's truck key was stuck in the ignition earlier this year. After an online search he called a company called "Locksmith Plus."
Dodd told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "The first time the guy was there it was three or four hours. He kept trying to make phone calls to ask people what he needed to do. So it was pretty obvious he didn't know what he was doing. He and his girlfriend were sitting in the truck, playing on their phones the whole time."
Jason says the locksmith told him before arriving that the job would cost between $100.00 and $150.00. But he says after the guy got there, he broke a part, and then told Jason the bill would be $395! As with many people locked out of their cars or homes that've waited for a locksmith and already are on the hook for the service call, Jason paid up.
The 28-year old Tucson resident said, "I was pretty irritated, considering that wasn't even the job completed. And he broke the ignition cylinder housing."
Jason had called "Locksmith Plus" because he thought it was in Tucson, due to its 520 area code. But the News 4 Tucson investigators learned it's located in Bend, Oregon, and is a broker for locksmiths around the country. We spoke on the phone with their manager. She declined an interview and seemed to blame any mistakes on the locksmith they sent out, who's an independent contractor
Nick LaFleur of the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona says many locksmiths use bait and switch tactics to get the job, and adds, "There'll always be some reason why it's going to be end up being more than originally quoted."
He says if you're locked out of your car or home, you should do some research to try to avoid getting ripped-off.
"I would make sure it's a local company, that they have a local office," LaFleur says, "so when you call the company, make sure you ask them that. You verify that it has a local address."
LaFleur says most consumers panic when locked out, and go with the company advertising the lowest prices or quickest arrival times.
"They'll need a locksmith fast. They'll go online or they'll look on their phone and they'll find a locksmith that's advertising low rates. When the locksmith shows up, turns out it will be much more expensive than they had advertised."
Jason Dodd sums up his experience this way: "I feel like I got screwed, point blank."
There are many reliable and trustworthy locksmiths who really are located in Tucson. Several told me they pay for any part they break. LaFleur says you should have research on hand in case you ever need a locksmith. Besides doing research online, speak to friends and family who were locked out, and didn't get ripped-off. And remember if you have a story you'd like us to investigate, please email us at investigators@ kvoa.com.