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Local locksmiths warn Utahns about overpricing scheme

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah locksmiths are warning consumers about a growing scheme that could leave you with an overpriced bill the next time you get locked out of your car and call a local locksmith.

KSL 5's investigative team was able to demonstrate the issue by getting locked out of vehicles several times and dialing a locksmith.

Lindsay Miles said she was victimized by a locksmith company. She said she searched for a locksmith on her phone, called a number and was quoted about $40 for having her car unlocked. However, when the locksmith arrived to unlock her vehicle, the price went up to $150 and Miles believes she got ripped off.

Lyle Ball was also in need of a locksmith and searched the Internet for the trusted locksmith he'd used before, Alpine Lock and Safe, a family-owned locksmith shop in American Fork. But, Ball said he became suspicious when the locksmith arrived.

"I recognized immediately he was trying to scam me," Ball said.

Ball said the quote by phone was around $60, but the locksmith hiked the price to $150 when he arrived. When Ball refused service, he said the locksmith got upset.

"He was yelling out the window, 'Come on you can't do this. This isn't fair,' " Ball said.

Loudean Peterson is the owner of Alpine Lock and Safe in American Fork. She said Ball was tricked by a growing problem. To explain how, Peterson searched the Internet with KSL's investigative team for Utah locksmiths. Peterson said while Internet listings may look local, many addresses are faked. A KSL team drove to several local address listings and discovered there weren't locksmith companies at those addresses and instead found there to be a luxury hotel, a convenience store, a flower shop, and restaurant.

Peterson has also scoped out other addresses listed for locksmiths in her community and said one was a police department and another was an abandoned building next door to her locksmith shop.

During the course of reporting this story KSL TV visited the following Utah locksmiths:
  • Alpine Lock and Safe in American Fork
  • Phone: 801-756-8100
  • Toll Free: 800-660-4375
  • 67 West Main Street, American Fork
  • Action Locksmith
  • 245 E. 3900 S, Salt Lake City
  • (801) 262-6912
  • 10919 S State Street, Sandy
  • (801) 571-8300

With Peterson by her side and listening in, a KSL reporter called one listing to see what would happen.

"Is this Alpine Lock and Safe in American Fork?" the reporter asked. The person who answered the phone said, "Yes ma'am," and he went on to say they only provide mobile service.

"The person I just talked to does not work for you?" the reporter asked Peterson.

"No, he does not and I have a physical location. You're here," Peterson responded.

Next, KSL 5 TV got locked out of vehicles and called for locksmiths to see what would happen. Two producers called the same phone number separately, to say they were locked out of their SUV.

One KSL producer called from Salt Lake City. She asked if the business was local and they claimed they were. The call taker quoted a $15 service fee plus $35 and up. When the locksmith arrived, the price went up.

"Is it a harder car or something to open?" the producer asked the locksmith. He said it was, and he unlocked the SUV in under a minute. The final bill was $110.

The next day, a KSL reporter parked the same SUV and the second KSL TV producer heard the same pitch.

"There's a $15 fee to come out to you and a vehicle lockout service of $35 and up," the call taker told him.

The locksmith arrived, checked out the vehicle and opened it in about a minute. This time the bill was even higher — $117.

Next, the KSL reporter called the phone number and asked, "Is this Alpine Lock & Safe?" The quote was again a $15 service fee, plus the unlock fee of $35 and up.

"How far up is up?" the reporter asked over the phone.

"Well, we don't have a range — how far up or middle or lower," the call taker responded.

The technician arrived in an unmarked vehicle, and the name on the receipt was 24/7 Locksmith Services. When he said the fee would be $97, the reporter began asking questions.

"I work with KSL TV. My name is Debbie Dujanovic and I'm doing a story on why the price seems to be so much higher than the quoted price on the phone. People are paying a lot of money for lockouts."

"I understand, but I don't want to be recorded ma'am," the locksmith said.

He said a Honda Civic would cost $35 to unlock. So several days later, a KSL reporter parked a Honda Civic and a third KSL producer called the same company. However, the cost wasn't $35 — it was $70.

KSL TV contacted the same phone number to ask for a response to our report and to find out where the company was located. During the first attempt to speak to the manager or owner, the reporter asked if her call had gone to Georgia to which the call taker responded it had, but when the call got disconnected the reporter called back and was told her second call had gone to California. The manager stated the company does not have a Utah location, and they offer mobile services only. He reiterated the phone quote was a starting price only.

Utah resident Lyle Ball offered this advice to consumers: "Don't use a provider unless you know who they really are."

To File a Complaint with the Utah Division of Consumer Protection: http://consumerprotection.utah.gov/complaints/manual.html

Here is a list of local Utah locksmiths provided to KSL that were approved by the Utah Better Business Bureau:

A Ace Lockout: 801-288-9199 3002 S 500 E Salt Lake City, UT 84106-1357

Arco Lock & Key: 801-374-2986 224 S 500 W Provo, UT 84601-4224

Orem Locksmith Service: 801-224-3283 279 N State Street Orem, UT 84057-4745

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Tania Mashburn
    Debbie Dujanovic

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