You might want to get a cup of tea before you read this because this is going to be a long one.
I’d locked myself out of my apartment so rang your company and was told by somebody that a locksmith would be there in less than 40 minutes and if the lock could be picked would cost £59. So I agreed. The locksmith rung me back to confirm this. I let both the original operator and the locksmith know that my phone had low battery (I was on a panic inducing 1% even on the first call ) so I may not be able to be contacted The locksmith took over 50 minutes to arrive. But I wasn’t bothered by this, there’s traffic, unpredictable jobs etc etc. So 10 minutes here and there doesn’t make a difference.
What I am bothered by however was his deliberate attempt to deceive me, knowing that I was in a vulnerable position.
I was a loan female, locked out of my apartment with a flat battery on my phone (the 1% was long gone by the time he arrived) and a dog locked inside. I believe he played on these vulnerabilities to try and make more money out of me.
On arrival he told me that my sash lock (which I now know is of the 3 lever mortar lock variety, but we’ll get on to that later) could NOT be lockpicked. He told me he had been in the job for a number of years and that he knew this lock could not be picked by ANYBODY. According to him Yale locks, bathroom locks, bedroom locks, garage locks etc etc could all be picklocked, but this one could not.
I had my suspicions as I have previously looked up this kind of lock when looking at fire regulations for our apartment block and I knew that this kind of lock is not recommended for a front door as it isn’t very secure. In my mind, with admittedly limited knowledge of locks, this would mean that people can easily get in i.e. by lock picking.
However he told me he would have no choice but to drill into my current lock and replace it with a completely different lock at a cost of a staggering £150. Are you shocked? Because I was shocked. That’s 250% of what I was expecting to pay.
As my battery was dead on my phone I could not check these facts using the internet. I also did not have the ability to call an alternative locksmith and I had already waited 50 minutes for his arrival. I expressed that £150 was a lot more than I was expecting to pay and double checked with him that this was the only method of opening my door. He confirmed that drilling through my lock was the only option. I had no choice but to agree.
Side note: By this point he had also answered multiple calls on his mobile phone. But again I’m not really bothered, people have busy lives and he’s trying to juggle work calls too, so it’s cool.
So he drilled through my lock (terrifying my dog in the process and creating a mess in the communal area of my apartment block- and no he didn’t clean it up afterwards) and opened the door. He returned to his vehicle to collect a new lock. After making sure my dog was OK, I confirmed my suspicions using an IPad which I now had access to. With a quick google search I was able to identify that I had a mortar lock. Within seconds I was able to find YouTube videos of people lock-picking this type of lock in next to no time.
Upon his return I showed him the YouTube video and explained that I was very upset and felt as though I had been deceived. I recalled our conversation from earlier and explained that I was not happy. He pointed out that the video was of a 1 lever mortar lock, my lock was a 3 lever. So 2 seconds later I accessed an almost identical video showing a 3 lever mortar lock being unpicked. He tried to justify his method of using the drill stating that lockpicking can take ages and that a drill if quicker. This video tutorial was a mere 6 minutes long. It probably took him about 6 minutes just to fetch the new look from his car.
Now I don’t know about you, but if somebody has been a locksmith for years (as he stated) I would expect them to be able to pick a lock that can be taught in 6 minutes to the general public via YouTube. He had deceived me in order to make more money from me.
Seeing that I was upset with his deception he offered to charge me £110. My previous lock was now unusable and I had a gaping hole in my door. This could all have been avoided if he had picked the lock as I had asked in the first place.
I expressed that we have 4 keys that we use on a regular basis, the new lock that he had collected from his car only has 2 keys. My local Timpsons doesn’t cut these types of keys (goodness knows why not!) so I explained this is a major inconvenience to me as I will have to trek to the other side of the city and endure the cost of two new keys. He then lowered his price to £70+VAT totalling £84. Still 142% of what I was expecting to pay and more importantly SHOULD have paid. But I remind you I was in a vulnerable position as a lone female with a dead phone, a worried dog and a gaping hole in my front door. I felt for the second time this evening that I had no choice but to agree.
So he replaced the lock, charged me £84 and left.
It is over an hour since he left and at the time of writing I have not received my email invoice. I have messaged him informing me that I haven’t received it.
So as you can see it was a bit of a shambles from start to finish.