Most of us at one time or another has needed to call on the services of an emergency locksmith. Maybe you have lost your house keys whilst out shopping or during a night out or perhaps you have locked your keys inside your car and are nowhere near your home meaning retrieving your spare set of keys is virtually impossible.
It is a state of affairs that know body wants to find themselves in but nevertheless it’s a situation that happens more often than people actually think which is the reason why the locksmith industry in the UK is such a lucrative career with good earnings… of course before you can tout yourself as a locksmith you will need to undertake a professional locksmith training course otherwise you would simply be winging it, so to speak, and contrary to popular belief to work as a locksmith in the UK you need no certification, accreditation or training.
Recent statistics shows that around 30% of all locksmiths operating in the UK have had no training whatsoever. But what does this mean for the customers? The person locked out of their home, office or vehicle?
Using an untrained locksmith can result in higher bills and damage to your property so you need to always make such that the locksmith you call is fully trained and vetted.
Why are bill usually higher from amateur locksmiths
An amateur locksmith generally won’t be working in the industry full time – they will usually have another full time day job which they can work around because 70% of locksmith calls are in the evening or during the night – so when they do get a call from someone in need of their services they will usually try to milk the customer for every penny they can by using the ‘additional charges’ trick, this is where the amateur locksmith will advertise a very low price to get your custom then bump up the bill at the end of the job with numerous ‘add on’ fees such as ‘night rate’, ‘fuel charge’, ‘call out fee’ etc and you end up playing a lot more than you would have paid an actual professional locksmith.
Why can using an amateur locksmith result in damage to your property?
When a locksmith undergoes the correct training he or she is taught various non destructive entry techniques that include picking locks by hand or using professional lock picking devices. Lock picking however is a skill that needs to be taught one on one by a professional tutor and cannot be learnt simply by watching videos online, this is the reason why locksmith training courses are usually limited to 3 or 4 students at a time so that each student can get some one on one with the tutor.
When a professional, fully trained locksmith arrives at your home their job and plan of action is to gain access will little or no damage, however when an amateur, part time locksmith arrives at your home their plan is to gain access as quickly as possible, regardless of the damage they cause to your property.
An amateur’s tool kit will generally consist of a drill a hammer and some chisels with no specialist equipment in sight. At the end of your experience – which I’ve heard it called – you’ll be left with a damaged property and a hefty bill, and on some occasions damage has be purposely done so the locksmith can sell you a new lock on the spot at a largely inflated price, sometimes five times the retail price.
How to make sure that you are using a professional locksmith
This is a difficult one because nowadays because due to the internet anyone can afford to advertise as a locksmith, however they are a couple of rules that you can follow to make it less likely that you call on the services of an unskilled, untrained locksmith
- Never use a locksmith call centre, sometimes referred to as nationwide or national locksmith companies but they are really just call centres who advertise locksmith services all over the country. How their business model works is the locksmiths pay a fee to be on their books should a call come in looking for a locksmith in their area, the call centre generally takes a cut of the final bill also and encourages, ‘add ons’ and ‘extras’. For this reason alone the locksmith call centres should be given a wide berth but the main issue is that it is the amateur locksmiths who sign up with this call centres not the professionals, who get their own work through referrals etc.
- Avoid ‘wanted’ ads. Wanted ads where once found in newspapers and shop windows, they still are, but they also appear online on free ad websites such as ‘gumtree’. The amateur locksmith will usually run a few ads under different names and use various throw away (PAYG) mobiles, they do this because once they are ousted online their victims generally post their mobile number to warn others not to use.
If you want to find a genuine professional locksmith then you’ll simple need to read between the lines. A professional locksmith will probably have their own website – or be listed on a fully vetted traders websites such as localtrusted.co.uk, they’ll also have a google map listing and genuine reviews from genuine customers, they may also list their credentials – even through the locksmith industry is unregulated there are voluntary certificates that you can obtain – and the name of the training centre they attended.
Always ask questions such as am I speaking to the locksmith? – With a call centre you are simply speaking to an operator, are you professionally trained? And do you use non destructive entry methods? These last two question will sometimes scare off the amateur who’ll then start making excuses as to why they can’t come out.
We have put together a small list of genuine, professionally locksmith from various parts of the UK to help you out.
Staffordshire > easykeyslocksmiths.co.uk
Cumbria > ltlocksmiths.co.uk
Greater Manchester > entryteclocksmiths.com
Nottinghamshire > mablocksmiths.co.uk