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Dept. of Commerce to investigate after locksmith pricing complaints

By Debbie Dujanovic | Posted - Jan 31st, 2014 @ 9:51pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — The State of Utah’s Division of Consumer Protection is investigating claims about locksmith pricing practices and address listings that may lead consumers to believe they’re dialing a local locksmith company.

The lockouts

The KSL 5 investigative team got locked out of vehicles on four different occasions, and each time they called a locksmith that had a Utah listing. The call takers quoted a low price over the phone.

"There is a $15 fee to come out to you and a vehicle lockout service of $35 and up," said one operator.

But when the locksmith arrived to unlock the vehicles, the prices went up to $70 to $117.

Customer Lindsay Miles said when it happened to her, she called the company to complain.

"I got upset and told him this was a terrible business practice and I felt very scammed, and he hung up the phone on me,” Miles said.

The company that had responded to KSL’s calls for a locksmith presented the reporter and producers with receipts from a company called 24/7 Locksmith Services.

"Our only success is by getting the word out by news stories like this,” said Francine Giani, Director of the Utah Department of Commerce. The state said records showed the company is not registered as a business in Utah.

Getting answers

When a reporter called the company to ask questions about its practices and to find out where they were located, she was told by one call taker she had dialed Georgia. After that call got disconnected, the reporter called back and was told she had dialed Los Angeles. The manager made it clear that the company quotes a starting price and fees can go up, it offers mobile service, and it doesn't have a location in Utah. Then he told her she had dialed the wrong company.

Utah law

Giani said Utah law states a company cannot misrepresent its geographical location.

“I'm saying you have to have a physical address, and that's what the statute speaks to specifically,” Giani said.

But for consumers, it can be tough to identify which locksmiths are locally owned and operated. For example, KSL contacted a website for Orem Locksmith to see if the company was really located in Utah County. KSL placed the call from Salt Lake City and asked the call taker if the company could unlock a vehicle parked in Phoenix. The company said "yes."

There is an established company called Orem Locksmith Service in Utah County, and the general manager said he is aware someone else is using a name similar to his, and it has cost him business.

To file a complaint

Giani says based on KSL’s investigative report, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection will investigate consumer complaints.

“So we're going to get busy," she said. "Come, consumers, file your complaints with us. We are happy to help you.”


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