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Locksmithing/La Gard Digital Lockpad On Safe

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Question
Good Morning Mr. Andreasen:

I own a double door Private Security Products gun safe. Each door has its own LG basic keypad lock. One does not work, specifically, the number "1" bubble digit will not beep, as do the other numbers in the combination. I have read your other writings and I have replaced the 9 V Duracell with a new one. No low quality batteries are ever used. I have also made sure that the bubble press in precise and have tried it with light pressure as well moderate to heavy. The button does not seem to work. The safe and locks are supposed to be warrantied for life against break-in, fire, or lock failure. However, after contacting the company, they now tell me the lock itself is only warrantied for 5 years (it was purchased in 4/09) and are charging me for a new lock. Grossly unfair and poor customer service on an $8K safe.

Nevertheless, can you please help me. Is the keypad electronics repairable and if so, by whom and at what (reasonable) cost. Can a digital locking safe be converted to a traditional mechanical combination dial? [ Off-line: If it is possible to directly contact you, please provide a phone number ]

Respectfully,
Steve Adams

Answer
Steve,

I have no idea who "Private Security Products" is or what (manufacturer) gun safes they sell, so my answer is going to be based on the information that you have provided.    If you have specific information which you would like me to look at (manufacturer and warranty info), I will need more info, and/or you will need to send it to me.

I'm not sure where you get that the safe and lock are "warrantied for life" - While "SOME" manufacturers may give you a LIMITED life time warranty concerning the repair or replacement of the safe IN THE AVENT of a fire or burglary, I don't know of ANY one who is providing a life time warranty for mechanical issues with the safe or lock.   Manufacturers also don't provide any warranty "AGAINST" break-in or fire.   Their safes are rated with the AMOUNT of resistance that they provide - WHAT THEY DO provide is that they will either repair or replace your safe IF it is damaged in a fire or burglary attempt - at their discretion - not yours.

I would very carefully reread your warranty documents that came with the safe.   If the manufacturer does specify a lifetime warranty against lock failure, then I would contact them concerning this issue.

The lock manufacturer ONLY provides a 1 year warranty against lock failure.   As your safe was purchased in April of 2009 it would be well past this warranty.  Even if they (the safe manufacturer) are providing an extended, 5 year mechanical or lock warranty - I think that this is more than fair, but I would still reread your warranty documents to see what is covered.    Even if they changed the policy to a more limited liability - if your warranty specifically states LIFETIME against lock failure, then your safe should be covered.

The biggest problem that I see with warranties is that people tend to read into it what they want, and Sales people tend to "gloss over" what the "Limited" part of the policy really covers.    As far as the "Grossly Unfair and Poor Customer Service" this is easily a misunderstanding of the policy either on your part, or on their part.    As I don't have a copy of your policy in front of me, I'm not going to point fingers in either direction, however as stated above I don't know of ANY manufacturer who has indicated the warranty that you have specified - i.e.:  "The safe and locks are supposed to be warrantied for life against break-in, fire, or lock failure"!

Now onto the problem with your key pad lock - yes, the "weak link" in your lock system IS the bubble key pad, membrane.   These are very subject to damage, especially the buttons in the corners of this particular key pad.    If all of the buttons seem to work except the #1, then I would suppose that, that is your problem.
LaGard has recently (Jan 2014) come out with a newer keypad with a membrane which supposedly addresses the problems that were inherent with the older style key pads.    They are compatible with your lock.

Changing the key pad will probably solve the problem - however, LaGard does not make the keypads so that they are "easily" changed out by owners.    In order to change key pads, yours would have to be disassembled - completely, and the cable unplugged from the keypad circuit board, and then plugged into the new key pad circuit board.

Most safe technicians have a temporary keypad already set up for this temporary replacement to open the safe.    Once open, the cable needs to be unplugged from the lock and a new key pad installed.
NOTE:   This is NOT something I recommend as a DIY project.   If you make a mistake in the reinstallation of the lock or other bolt work components, you could be faced with a very expensive lock out.
I also would NOT want a "repaired lock or keypad" installed on the safe - the next lockout may not be an easy fix.

Basically all that you need is a new key pad (once your safe is open).   The LaGard 3715 key pad currently retails for about $58 (plus shipping & handling).   The lock and key pad set (3715 key pad and 4200 series lock) are about $156.25 (MSRP)

Yes, your safe can be retrofitted to a mechanical lock.   Cost of the lock, dial & dial ring (depending on manufacturer & lock model), could easily run from about $125 to $500.   Plus you will also have the safe technicians time to install the locks correctly.
Note:   about lock warranties - most manufacturers indicated that locks which are installed by someone the factory considers as "non-trained", would void any manufacturer's warranty.   This would include untrained locksmiths and DIY projects.


Unfortunately there are not a lot of safe companies in Colorado, but I would recommend checking your yellow pages under "Safes & Vaults" - not locksmiths, to see who is available.   You can discuss the opening and repairing of the safe with them, however I would stay away from the subject of your current "warranty complaints", as this doesn't concern them and could easily label you as a "trouble customer".    Deal with the two issues separately.   Either the safe manufacturer will honor your warranty or they won't.   If they don't then you may want to run the issue by a lawyer to see what your options are.   Plan B - would be to contact the local safe company to have them open and repair the safe.

ASSUMING that this is simply a keypad issue, it should be rather easy for a safe technician to diagnose, open and repair.    HOWEVER, as I'm not onsite with the lock - if it is actually a lock issue, then the safe and lock may need to be drilled, repaired and a new lock and key pad installed.
Again, this should be a fairly routine issue for a trained safe tech.   Any one that even indicates ruining the safe, or drilling more than "ONE" small hole to open the lock, should be steered clear of, as they don't really know what they are doing, and while they MAY claim to be a safe tech - they are possibly LEARNING, at your (and your safe's) expense!

Sorry I can't be of more help at this time, but mechanical issues tend to be "HANDS ON" issues.

Hope that this does give you some direction though.  

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.

Experience

44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

Organizations
SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 - Listed in AllExperts Top 50 Experts. All Expert Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service Area is Northern California (Fresno to Oregon and Western Nevada)

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