Consumer Watch team investigates locksmiths

Tuesday, May 13th 2008, 4:08 pm
By: News 9

By Amanda Taylor, NEWS 9

Phony storefronts, unlicensed workers and a scam that spans the nation prompted NEWS 9's Consumer Watch Team to find locksmiths in Oklahoma - who aren't locksmiths at all.

Joe Leach needed a locksmith so he grabbed the phone book and found a locksmith company who said it would cost $39.99 to open his door.

But once the locksmith came out - and finished - the price shot up.

Reluctantly he paid - but upset he started digging.

He plugged in the company's name, Dependable Locks Inc., and he came across pages of complaints and postings warning of "phony locksmiths" going "nationwide and spreading like cockroaches" and being part of a "large organized crime type outfit".

The company once based out of New York, now in Florida, advertises using local addresses and phone numbers.

They're unlicensed and many times customers said they'll quote one price over the phone then charge another once they get there.

"I asked him while he was here, ‘Where are you guys located?' [He said] ‘Uh, NW Expressway'," Leach said.

The company's location leads to a piece of property that doesn't exist, and their bogus address is causing big problems for the State Department of Health.

"We can write them numerous citations based on the evidence that we have and we don't have a physical address to find a manager," Vernon Bolz of the State Department of Health said.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health requires locksmiths to be licensed - meaning the person has undergone a background check. But Dependable Locks hasn't applied.

When contacted, the company answered the phone, ‘24 hour locksmith of Oklahoma City,' not Dependable Locks. After more investigating, it turns out the company goes by many names.

Every locksmith who advertises in a new phone book must display their license number. And once they come to you, ask to see their license.