In the UK the locksmith industry is unregulated, which means that pretty much anyone can call themselves a locksmith.
As with any other tradesperson that you are going to let into your house you want to make sure that you do your research (even if it is in an emergency) and check that they really have the credentials that you are looking for.
People often ask "Are locksmiths trustworthy?" Well you'll find that there are plenty of good locksmiths out there, but there are also lots of bad locksmiths who are just going to rip you off.
If you’re trying to find a locksmith to change or replace your locks then you’ll need to find someone who is both capable of doing the job, but is also someone whom you can trust.
Our Top Tips
We’ve put together some simple steps in the guide below to help you find a trusted locksmith who is suitable for your job.
What Questions Should You Ask a Locksmith?
We’ve given you some tips to help you find a locksmith, so you should now have a shortlist ready.
In the next steps we will look at some basic questions that you should ask them to ensure you choose the best locksmith and are confident that you have found someone you can trust.
Before anyone has set foot on your property there are some basic screener questions that we can go through to make sure you find the locksmith right for you.
Before the Locksmith Arrives...
How much do they charge?
This may seem basic, but setting a price up front and being clear of the costs that are included is an essential part of the decision process. Don’t be afraid to do this either as most trusted locksmiths will be more than happy to provide you this information, and you’ll most likely find that the more dubious tradesmen will skirt around the issue.
Be sure to give them as clear a description of your issue as possible to enable them to give you an accurate quote eg:
- Type of Lock
- Where the lock is in your property
- The level of urgency
Ask them for a further breakdown of the quote ie:
- What is the labour cost?
- What is the call out charge?
- Does the labour or call out charge vary depending on the time of day / week?
- What would a replacement lock cost? (Try to search online for the exact product and that will give you an idea of if they are adding a high markup or not)
- What will an extra set of keys cost?
- What will it cost to fit a new lock?
Make sure that before any work begins you have the full cost of the work involved.
TIP : Beware of hidden costs:
Some unscrupulous locksmiths may not be totally truthful about their quote and will try to charge you things like extra mileage fees, minimm duration of a call out, or extortionate fees for after hours call outs. Make sure that they have agreed that the quote they give you is the final quote, especially for emergency or 24 hours callouts.
You’ll typically find that a 24 hour emergency locksmith will charge higher fees for either a quick response or for unsociable hours. This is completely normal, but just ensure you know what you’re liable to pay in advance.
What Is Their Response Time?
If you’re stuck on your doorstep, freezing cold and dying to get back inside then this is probably going to be the first question on your lips, however, it’s worth reminding you to ask it.
As we mentioned above, your best bet is finding a local locksmith but they might be out on another job if it’s a one man company, or they may be located miles away.
In the case of big cities like London, they could be on the other side of the city so it’s worth asking them.
Typically for an emergency locksmith you shouldn’t expect to wait any more than 30 minutes, as you’ll be paying a premium for this service.
Are they Insured?
Just to re-iterate it’s worth finding out if they have any kind of insurance before you let them loose on your property.
During the Locksmiths Visit...
Ask for their ID
Before letting anyone into your property or commencing any work you should ask for their ID. As the locksmith industry is unregulated then it’s a little more difficult to prove their authenticity but if they have MLA approval, ask for their MLA identity card, otherwise ask for a business card or some letterhead from their business.
You should also pay attention to the vehicle that they arrive in. Most legitimate locksmiths will have a company car with their companies details printed all over it, which should give you some degree of confidence in their identity, although some after hours locksmiths tend to turn up in private cars as well.
They will probably also ask for your ID, which is a good thing, otherwise you could just be anyone from the street who wants to gain entry to the property. If they don’t ask you for some form of ID, then this should raise some alarm bells.
Confirm the Price
Before they start any work on the property, confirm that the price you were given is still the correct price. This gives them no excuses to change the quote after the job has been completed.
The job may be more complicated than you had originally described it when you got your quote on the phone, so be sure to confirm this with the locksmith first of all before they start work.
If you are in any doubt of the price then you can ask them to stop and call someone else out.
After the Locksmiths Visit...
Ask for an Itemised Invoice
Once the work is completed and you are back into your property safe and sound remember to ask the locksmith for an itemized invoice that covers all of the parts, the call out charge, any travelling allowance and the cost of labour.
If they have fitted a new lock they should give you a new set of keys as well and will be able to itemise this on the invoice.
Check the Quality of the Work
When they have finished the job have a look and inspect the quality to make sure that you’ve got the service that you’ve paid for.
- Are there any marks on the door?
- Does the new lock work smoothly?
- Are the door frames intact?
- Did they clear up after they finished?
If you’re not happy with the standard of work then you should let them know at this point before you pay them. If you find a good locksmith, then they will be looking for you to give them a good review as well and will take pride in their job, so will be more than happy to help you if you’re not entirely happy.
Signs That you have found a Bad Locksmith
If you’ve read through this article and taken heed of some of this advice then you’ve probably been unlucky if you still found a locksmith who wasn’t up to the job.
Here’s a list of some of signs that would indicate that you found a bad locksmith:
- They did not disclose the full price of the job until they had completed. Often they will give you a lower price to start with to suck you in, then bump up the final bill with lots of hidden extras such as parts, call out charges, mileage and things you may have thought were included
- They do not ask for your ID when they arrive at the property
- They drill the lock without trying alternative methods. A qualified locksmith should be able to gain access to most properties without resorting to the use of a drill. If this is the case then you’ve probably handed over your cash to a bit of a chancer
- There are marks on the door or door frame. In most occasions the locksmith should be able to gain entry into your property without causing damage to anything other than the lock
- They don’t clear up after themselves. A good workman will always tidy up and leave the job as they found it when they arrived at the property.
- They don’t provide you with a full invoice including a detailed and itemised breakdown of all of the work included.