Bait and Switch
In recent months Abbey Locks have received an increasing number of enquiries from new customers who, after using another service provider, feel they may have fallen foul of a bait-and-switch scam sweeping through the Locksmith industry.
The Master Locksmiths Association have noted a growing increase in the number of cases of this fraudulent tactic, particularly in London, North London as well as the Hertfordshire area. One recent example we have encountered involved a vulnerable gentleman who contacted a reputable locksmith, or so he believed. What began as a relatively simple lock replacement, which should have cost in the region of £200, cost the gentleman in excess of £700. This is a shocking case, but sadly, is not unique.
As with all industries there are inevitable rate variations between contractors, however, the prevalence of this scam is cause for concern and can result in customers paying a significantly inflated rate for the simplest of jobs.
Here at Abbey Locks we are happy to help customers who may have fallen victim to the scam and will do whatever we can to assist, but we would much rather it didn’t happen in the first instance! In a bid to help stamp out the bait and switch scam we want to share some helpful information and advice.
What is bait-and-switch?
The bait-and-switch scam works by luring in unsuspecting customers with an extremely cheap headline price (the bait) only to find themselves with a bill 10 times the advertised amount (the switch).
Tell-Tale signs of the bait and switch scam
If a deal is too good to be true, it almost certainly is!
The Master Locksmiths Association recommends exercising caution if you come across Locksmith Google Adverts for £39 / £49 / £59. It is worth asking yourself ‘How can this locksmith offer a much cheaper rate than everyone else?’.
If you are being offered a significantly lower rate, it does not always represent a better deal!
If the pricing terms are confusing
The use of technical jargon and a general lack of clarity is a tactic often used in an attempt to deliberately confuse customers and coerce them into paying for something they do not want nor need. The scammers main objective is to trick customers into accepting different terms at a much higher price.
If the fine print surrounding the deal is vague and confusing
A reputable locksmith or company will make sure their fine print is easy to read and digest as their goal is to help you in purchasing the right service. Scammers will try to confuse you with jargon and contradictions. If the fine print is difficult to navigate and understand it’s a red flag!
The locksmith is out of stock
Not having a particular lock in stock is not, in itself, a cause for concern. An honest locksmith will be apologetic and arrange a return visit when the item is back in stock, alternatively, they may offer a similar item of similar price. Be cautious if they are trying to sell or promote another product entirely.
If the Locksmith tries to push a different deal
Trying to coerce customers into buying an entirely different product than the one they have requested is potentially a red flag. If you feel uncomfortable or coerced in any way; trust your gut.
Abbey Locks’ advice to customers
- Be wary of locksmith’s advertising using Google Ads, especially if the prices they are promoting are around £39-£59. They are almost certainly scammers. Always do your research beforehand – don’t spend money on a service on a whim just because the deal seems like a once in a lifetime bargain!
- Always compare prices with other trusted locksmith companies. This will help you get an understanding of the average price they charge for a specific service. It will also help you identify if a price is suspiciously low!
- Always do your research – Locksmith reviews are available on multiple platforms; reviews offer a good insight into the service level you can expect and help you source a locksmith with a good reputation
- Make sure the locksmith or company are vetted members of the MLA (Master Locksmith Association) as recommended by the Met Police following a series of scams