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Locksmithing/Rates and Customer Expectations


Hi James,
I hate to bother you again but I think others might benefit from this question.

As I told you in the past, I am intrigued with being a Locksmith and have not only embraced your advice, I've been studying and practicing.  My skills are getting very good even though I still have a lot to learn about different locks.

Here is my issue.  I've been looking at Locksmith billing rates for my area, so I know what is reasonable.  Today, I ran across a website of people complaining that they were ripped off but when they said the service they needed (mostly lockouts) and the price they paid, it seemed that the charges were reasonable.  The biggest complaint that I've seen is that a locksmith shows up and can pick the lock in 5 minutes.  They complain about the charge.  I would have thought that they would be happy that they got into their house or car quickly and that the locksmith did not have to destroy their lock.  Most doctors get the same or more for listening to your heart and refilling prescriptions on a maintenance office visit!

Is this typical or a common issue that you have to deal with?  If I continue my venture and get dragged out of bed, drive for 20 or 30 minutes and someone doesn't want to pay me because I opened their door quickly, that is discouraging.  What is your take?

Hello Charles,

People want things done quickly because it's always an emergency. They are in a time of crisis when they call a locksmith for a lockout job and aren't thinking clearly. Once we arrive they have had time to think and if we get them in quick, they feel cheated. They should, however, 1) feel unsafe that a locksmith can do that so quick and 2) thankful we didn't have to destroy anything to do it.

Unfortunately they don't feel anything but happy we got them in and overcharged because it didn't take any time at all.

What they don't understand is what it takes to be a locksmith, the years of practice, training, 24/7/365 service calls and the continuing education that most of us go through just to keep up with the latest hardware, tips and tricks. We also have to get out of bed at odd times of the night, drive an hour or so, bring all of our equipment with us (because you never know what you will need), maintain our vehicle(s), equipment and tools, insure it all, have liability insurance, get licensed (every year), pay the high cost of fuel and the numerous other expenses we have to endure just to get them into their home in 2 minutes (if you're lucky).

I was told long ago: charge what you're worth. I quote the estimate price of any job, explaining to them what the charges are for. In a lockout situation, especially after regular hours, I specifically state "it's $60 for me just to show up". If I get there and they are already in, they still get charged. If I'm concerned about getting paid, I get a credit card before I leave my current location, and charge them the service call. If the job takes longer than expected and you end up charging more for the work, run the card again for the additional. Let them know that there are no refunds unless they cancel before you arrive or before a certain time after they hang up. If they challenge it with their card company you may have an issue because nothing is in writing.

There are people that will complain. If I open a house and they complain about the cost, I lock the door back and turn to leave. They will pay.



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I do not answer Safe or automotive questions. Period. I am knowledgeable in almost every area of Locksmithing. This includes locks, keys, lost keys, residential and commercial lockouts, rekeying, masterkeying, high security locks, access control, electric locks, security cameras and home safety. I have been running an online business since 2004 where I sell all types of lock and security hardware to everyone from apartment renters to business owners to the US government. Before that I started a locksmith service in 1999. I deal with many types of security equipment including high security safe locks, heavy duty padlocks, exit devices, biometric readers, electric strikes, magnetic locks, full surface hinges and I only sell what I personally stand behind 100%. The online business has given me a more in-depth look at the locksmithing industry, helping me to learn more about each and every product that I offer, as well as products I don't have but end up finding for customers to solve any issues they have with security or door hardware.

Please don't submit any automotive or safe questions as these aren't areas that I can help in.


I have been Locksmithing since 1999 and own my own Locksmithing business. I have many years of hands-on experience through the many services I have performed for my customers. I've run my business the way I wanted, treating everyone as I would like to be treated and knowing that any customer could be my last if I didn't perform my locksmithing duties as I had promised.

I have a diploma in Masterkeying, Advanced Locksmithing & Locksmithing from Foley-Belsaw.

Past/Present Clients
US government, colleges, schools, city and state governments, large and small corporations, home owners.

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