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‘The cowboys have got to go’: Clampdown on locksmith fees

15:56 19/01/2018

You’ve locked yourself out of the house, and it’s midnight. Your bag was stolen, and it contained your house keys. Your home was burgled, and the lock is broken. What do you do?

Like everyone else, you call a locksmith. And it’s an emergency, and the locksmith is very aware of this.

Local residents who have been ripped off by locksmiths in emergency situations spoke this morning on Radio 2. One woman said she had to pay €600 for a new lock.

And it’s not just locksmiths, according to federal consumer affairs minister Kris Peeters, who wants to regulate prices for emergency calls in general. Another resident speaking to Radio 2 said she had to pay a plumber €480 to come the same day to deal with a clogged toilet.

“We hear this all the time,” says Dirk Peytier of electrical and plumbing federation Techlink. “It’s absolute abuse of consumers in an emergency situation. There are a few businesses that are really known for it, and I think they should be prosecuted.”

Google ads suspect

Peeters has launched an investigation into prices charged by companies that offer such emergency services. “We will also be looking into their accounts,” he said. His office also plans meetings with sector federation such as locksmith unions.

“I hope that they can understand that we have to put a stop to the high cost of emergency repairs,” said Peeters. “Customers have to be informed about the conditions and the price so they cannot be taken advantage of. The cowboys have got to go.”

The chair of the Flemish Locksmiths Union has one handy tip: If you’re using Google to search for a locksmith, don’t use the ads that appear at the top of the search. Some of them lead to people who “come from over the Dutch border in unmarked vans, want to be paid immediately in cash and often don’t deliver good work”.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw