What’s the key to hir­ing a lock­smith?

Merced Sun-Star - - Chowchilla News - BY PAUL F.P. POGUE

Lock­smithing may be the ul­ti­mate emer­gency ser­vice. Like plumbers, elec­tri­cians and other home ser­vice stan­dards, when you need a good lock­smith, you need one RIGHT NOW. But un­like those oth­ers, you may go decades with­out call­ing a lock­smith for help. You prob­a­bly have a go-to elec­tri­cian and HVAC com­pany ready to call, but when you’re hir­ing in a hurry, you can eas­ily find your­self at the mercy of the first lock­smith you call.

Fur­ther­more, lock­smithing tends to at­tract its share of shady oper­a­tors and out­right scams. To avoid this prob­lem, plan ahead to be ready for a lock­out. Arm your­self with these tips for the best pos­si­ble hir­ing:

1. Hire lo­cal

Ab­so­lutely make sure your lock­smith is a lo­cal busi­ness with a brick-and­mor­tar ad­dress. Un­scrupu­lous com­pa­nies of­ten flood phone books with busi­nesses that ap­pear lo­cal, but don’t have a lo­cal pres­ence. They’re just cen­tral­ized call cen­ters that send out con­tracted tech­ni­cians with min­i­mal train­ing.

If you have to hire in a hurry, ask de­tailed ques­tions of the per­son on the other end of the line. Rep­utable pro­fes­sion­als will be happy to an­swer ques­tions about locks and door hard­ware.

Take cau­tion with lock­smith com­pa­nies with names like “AAA” or “A1.” These names are de­signed to push them to the front of the phone book.

Be wary of scams. Shady lock­smith com­pa­nies lure in cus­tomers with claims of ex­tremely low rates and un­re­al­is­tic re­sponse times.

2. Look for cre­den­tials

Lock­smith li­cens­ing can be a com­pli­cated ter­ri­tory to nav­i­gate. Most states don’t li­cense lock­smiths, and var­i­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have their own rules. Study up on your lo­cal reg­u­la­tions, and make sure you hire some­one who meets those stan­dards. If your state or city doesn’t li­cense lock­smiths (and in­deed, even if they do), look for pro­fes­sional cer­ti­fi­ca­tion such as ALOA Se­cu­rity Pro­fes­sion­als As­so­ci­a­tion or the So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Lock­smiths. This cer­ti­fi­ca­tion demon­strates con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion and ded­i­ca­tion to the craft.

3. Check them out ahead of time

It’s wise to have a lock­smith on call be­fore you ever need one. Check re­ports on Angie’s List and call the com­pany to get an es­ti­mate on their ser­vices be­fore you agree to have work done. Ask for de­tails about their pric­ing and avail­able hours. Do they have emer­gency hours? Do they charge for mileage or have ser­vice­call min­i­mums?

Once you find a ser­vice provider you’re com­fort­able with, store that com­pany’s in­for­ma­tion in your wal­let or cell­phone – some place you’re likely to have ac­cess to if locked out.

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