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Locksmith ripoffs: Hidden camera investigation (Marketplace)

Locksmith ripoffs: Hidden camera investigation (Marketplace)
It's a chilly night in late November. And a woman sits in the middle of an emergency. I'm locked out of my place. Help is on the way, she's told. But as we're about to find out... Hey! Sorry about the wait. There are no guarantees when you're picking a

locksmith

. The woman, in fact, is a

Marketplace

producer. And this house is a testing ground that we've rigged up with

hidden

camera

s. Well, I think those all look pretty good. Yeah, it's pretty good. Our plan is to call

locksmith

s over the next few nights. -There we go... -There, we know that one. Check Point Door and Lock. We've heard a lot about this one. From companies we've heard might not give us a fair shake. It says $15-- 15 minute response time. John Seitz is with us. He's got ten years experience as a

locksmith

, and we've hired him to help with our test. I wanna show you-- we've got some

camera

s set up. - Let's go inside. - Sounds good. Together, we'll be in a back room... And if I just click here, we get a closer look. Lovely. Watching for signs of shoddy service, and much more. Like what happens to Dorothy Sterling. He just couldn't get the lock to work. She's 94. And needed the antique lock on her front door fixed. And he kept trying and he just couldn't get it to work because he didn't know what to do. The

locksmith

is both inexperienced, she says, and threatening. He told me he was going to remove the lock, and leave me with nothing. Now...
locksmith ripoffs hidden camera investigation marketplace
it's her carpenter, Titus, who's fixing the mess left behind. So as you can see here, he broke the door in several places. Titus feels bad because he's the one who found the

locksmith

. So I called three different companies, and the one that responded to me first was Check Point. Online, Check Point promises safety, trust, and peace of mind. Customers, though, post reviews that use words like "horrible", "overpriced", and "highway robbery". As you can see, this is the lock which they installed. The Check Point

locksmith

can't fix Dorothy's old lock. And the new one he installs is poorly designed. -Every time you turn this-- -You're knocking against that? You're knocking-- your thumb would be knocking against this right here. To top it off, Dorothy says she is charged twice what she's quoted. And by the end of the ordeal, pays $1,500. It was not a good experience for anybody. Especially for...a woman, alone. Back at our test house, we're going to call Check Point. So that's the housing... But first, our expert John is helping plan our test, with a brand new lock he's re-setting. So you're replacing the pins with ones that would be easier to pick? Yes. He says just about anyone will be able to pick this lock. Maybe even me. He gives me a few pointers. And then you're just going to get the pins to move up and down just like the key would, one at a time. And in roughly three and a half minutes......
locksmith ripoffs hidden camera investigation marketplace
Take it all out? Take it all out, because it is picked. And then it's with a flathead screwdriver, you finish the turn. -That's it? -That's it. We're in. Is this a fair experiment, though? Yes. It's obviously been made easier, I would call it a good test for beginners. So anyone claiming to be a

locksmith

, they should be able to get through it. As day turns to night, we set our test in motion... Hi there, I hope you can help me, I'm locked out of my place... With a call to Check Point. It's one of the cheapest quotes we find. How much do you think it usually costs then? Like 15, plus 35? It's over an hour of waiting. And then... I think that might be him. Are you the

locksmith

? Are you check-- you're Check Point? The one thing he makes clear quickly... There's no way to pick the lock. No... No. Not true, says our expert. Any

locksmith

seeing this lock should know it can be easily picked, but his only solution is to drill. Does that mean it's more expensive? $350! Okay, 'cause they said it was going to be like, 35, plus-- Plus about $90 for a new lock. Our producer urges him again to try picking. Are you sure you can't just pick it? You can't pick this? A year? That's what he said. He said it-- that you couldn't pick this lock. Can you pick that lock? I picked it in 3 minutes and 30 seconds with your help there. And I do remind you that I did not teach you very well. Before he breaks out the drill, we ask one more...
locksmith ripoffs hidden camera investigation marketplace
time. Okay, and you don't think we can pick it? Okay. Okay. He spends the next two minutes or so trying, but with no luck. Thank you for trying.

Locksmith

s are supposed to ask for ID, proof we live here, right off the bat. But this Check Point technician is well into destroying our lock by the time he finally asks. Y-yes... Yes. Yeah, I'm renting it, yeah. I rent it, yeah. Uh, I couldn't get a hold of her today-- but it's okay, she'll be okay. He doesn't finish the thought, but does finish the job. You got it. Including a new lock. Our expert, though, is not impressed. What are you thinking right now? That was everything I didn't want it to be. A bigger surprise awaits, when it's time to settle the bill. Okay, so how much-- I'm totally confused as to the price. No! No. If I give you cash can you do like 450? And with that, the call ends. Bye... We contact Check Point. They admit their

locksmith

should have asked for ID, tried harder to pick the lock, and should have quoted a final price before starting the job. Check Point is now updating its procedures. And agrees to compensate 94-year-old Dorothy. This is your industry. Yeah. This is the worst part of my industry. This is the worst part. I'm glad you're taking a good look at it, I have heard all about it, but that was sad. That was just really sad. You almost look like you're taking it personally. This is my livelihood that I just watched someone make a joke out of. This is...
your

Marketplace

. Oh, hey, is this

Locksmith

Experts? It's the second night of our test house, and we're on the phone with a company called

Locksmith

Experts. I have locked myself out of my house, I can't find my keys. The Better Business Bureau says

Locksmith

Experts has a "pattern of complaints," mostly about over-charging. As one reviewer puts it, "these people are not experts, "they are thieves." The company admits it has a few unhappy customers-- but says most are satisfied. Yep. Oh, how much, how much do you think that might be? We heard a similar quote last night from a different

locksmith

, and it ends up costing $450. He said the lock was un-pickable and insisted on destroying it to let us in. Our expert John is back with us. And once again, he's reset a brand-new lock to make it easier to pick. This is night two, what are you expecting? I'm hoping for much better tonight. Just a straight call, honesty, an attempt to pick the lock. Oh, there we go, car's pulling in. Hi, are you my

locksmith

? Hi. I'm okay. He says his name is Serge, and the very next thing he says is the proper thing. Uh, I do. We show Serge ID and a rental agreement to prove we live here-- and he immediately tries picking the lock. Okay, okay. Is that like, on top of the... Okay. Like a service call, sort of thing? You're not? Oh, wow. Thank you! You're smiling, is that how it's supposed to be done? Yeah, that's how it's...
supposed to be done. Unlike the many complaints we hear about

Locksmith

Experts, our experience with Serge is going well-- until it's time to pay. How much can I give you? Uh, yeah. Oh, wow. Okay. $80 And a Google review. Thank you. Problem is, it's against Google guidelines to offer incentives for a review. And when we tell

Locksmith

Experts, they say it shouldn't have happened. It's against their policy. But there are other things about this company that are raising questions. Like for some reason, they show up when you call Port Credit

Locksmith

. Or Brampton

Locksmith

. Or Rouge

Locksmith

. So we couldn't open the door and the next day we had a big gathering here in the garden... It's Birchmount

Locksmith

when Tom Gehrels calls them last summer. I looked on Google Maps because I wanted to use somebody local that had a good reputation, and looked at three different ones, found this one called Birchmount

Locksmith

which you know, seemed to be right up the street from us. They quote Tom a price of $30 for the service call. 45 and up for the lock replacement. So what was your impression of this

locksmith

when they showed up? The $45 "and up" now went to $100 just to open the door and on top of that, $185 to replace the lock. Tom fights back, and gets a discount, but what he really doesn't like is the fact Birchmount

Locksmith

doesn't actually do the job. It turned out he was working for a company out of concord called "

Locksmith

...
Experts". Sure enough, the receipt says

Locksmith

Experts. So what happened to Birchmount? We invite Tom to go looking for answers, just up the street. There's 530 there. Okay, it's on this side of the street, then. Google Maps tells us Birchmount

locksmith

should be right around here. What's the number again? 572. Okay this is a building at 570... And this should be 572. There's nothing here. It's just an empty lot. There's no

locksmith

here. It doesn't look like it. No. Why do you think they would pick this address? I guess they just don't want to be found. Clearly there's something scuzzy going on. We ask

Locksmith

Experts to explain. They say they act as a subcontractor for many companies. And did not create any fake listings. Back at our test house, we want to know how far the fakery goes in the

locksmith

industry. Okay, so this is right near where we are... So we try searching Google for "a

locksmith

near me", and find a company called Certified

Locksmith

Etobicoke. Right there. Yeah, Certified

Locksmith

Etobicoke. Let's just pull it up. It's supposed to be right in the neighbourhood. Oh hey, I'm wondering if you can help me. But when we call Certified and ask who, exactly, will be coming, things get confusing. What's the name of the

locksmith

that shows up? It's FC

Locksmith

. FC

Locksmith

claims to be one of the best

locksmith

companies in Toronto. And seems to have branches in Ottawa and Calgary....
So why is FC coming up as Certified on Google Maps? We decide that instead of a

locksmith

coming to us, we'll go to the

locksmith

. So we're going to go to Certified

Locksmith

Etobicoke, it says it's six minutes away. Certified

Locksmith

Etobicoke may be closed by the time you arrive. Our GPS leads the way toward Certified-- or maybe FC--

Locksmith

, and in minutes... There it is, 2975 Bloor Street West. -It's right there. -It's right there. That does not look like a

locksmith

company. That does not look like a

locksmith

company. But it says right here, it says 2975 Bloor Street West, Certified

Locksmith

Etobicoke. But Parama is there, which looks like-- -A credit union. -A credit union, yeah. The deception, we discover, doesn't end here. We find more than 20 fake

locksmith

locations around Toronto saying they are linked to FC

Locksmith

. Which makes us wonder about all these five-star reviews we see on FC's Google business listing. When we dig deeper, we figure out most of them are fakes too. Dalton Fincher is actually American astronaut Clayton Anderson, seen here on the Space Shuttle Discovery. And Denver Cothron is actually Ian Roland, a lawyer who happens to work just next door to us. So we head over to see if Ian Roland knows his image is being used to promote FC

Locksmith

. So this is the company here, you can see there's 57 reviews. And if I scroll down, there you are. That's your picture, right? Denver! - Your name's Denver?...
-Denver. Interesting. "I got locked out of my car the other day. "They responded right away and solved the problem. "The technician that came was a real lifesaver." I have no idea what that's about. I certainly didn't get locked out of my car. That's not you? That's not me. No, it's not me. Well, the picture's me, but nothing else is. And I have no idea how they got it. There are a lot of fake reviews on this site. I'm a lawyer, it's an appropriation of my image. I may have to pursue it. -Thank you for that information. -You're welcome. A one-star review we managed to find on FC's Google listing comes with a twist of irony. A man named Colin tells people to not use this company. He says the

locksmith

"mangled, scratched and dinged" his door. In response, FC calls it a fake review, and says, "It's just one of our competitors." But we track down Colin, who doesn't want to come on

camera

, and both he and his review are real. FC denies allegations of fake reviews or locations. It says all those positive reviews could have been posted by anyone, and they're checking with their marketing company about any fake locations. This is your

Marketplace

. We're mapping out deception in the

locksmith

industry. So you're in your house. You're locked out. You want something nearby, you call something that looks ten minutes away. Like, ten minutes away, tops. -A local

locksmith

. -A local...

locksmith

. And what you actually get is a grocery store, not the

locksmith

company you have called. Each of these red dots represents a supposed

locksmith

company in the Toronto area. But after months of digging, we discover none of them are real

locksmith

locations. Here's what they really are... Drug stores and retail stores. Parking lots and gas stations. Strip malls and banks. It makes us wonder, how much can you really trust Google map searches? Mike Blumenthal is a search engine consultant. He helps businesses get exposure through local Google searches. In

locksmith

s, in appliance repair, in moving and garage door opening. Any home service business, you see a massive amount of fake listings at the present. What's the harm in that? Well, the harm is severalfold. One is legitimate businesses can't compete, the other is it's very deceptive to the consumer. A lot of times these businesses that are willing to cheat on their listings are also willing to cheat on the reviews, willing to cheat at who they send out to repair. They could be sending people into your home that are not either qualified to be there or shouldn't be there because of background issues. But doesn't Google have rules against fake listings? They have a lot of rules against fake listings, but they don't enforce the rules. We tell Google and the

locksmith

companies about all the fake listings we've uncovered, and now all of them have been taken down. Google says because of our...

investigation

, they're auditing all

locksmith

listings across Canada. But Mike says it will take more than

investigation

s like ours to solve the bigger problem. It's gone beyond trusting Google as a business to fix these issues. After watching this for 11 years, the only solution is a political one. There needs to be rules at the regulatory level with serious consequences. Financial and perhaps even criminal consequences to both the businesses that create fake listings and deceive people, as well as to Google. It's the only way, he says, we'll ever truly close the door on deception.