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Take the time to find a reliable, local locksmith before you need one in an emergency.

Locksmith scams tend to target home and car owners when they’re at their most vulnerable … in an emergency and needing immediate assistance.

Many consumers think they’re doing the right thing by searching online for a local locksmith, in some cases these locksmiths are run by call centres, in other instances they may not be trained as locksmiths but are in fact handymen.

To avoid hiring an unskilled locksmith to solve your locked-out problem, take the time to research the company first.

Here are some tips to follow before you hire:

Look for a truly “local” locksmith: The best way to know whether a locksmith is trustworthy is to research them in advance. Call them, ask them detailed questions and check their reviews. If you’re in a hurry, be wary of locksmith companies that answer calls with generic phrases like “locksmith services,” rather than a specific name. If a locksmith cannot or will not provide the business’ legal name – FIND ANOTHER LOCKSMITH.

Ask for a quote: The average locksmith callout starts from approx. R 500, what customers need to take into account is, you’re paying to get a locksmith shop at your home, and with that, there’s an overhead; a locksmith’s fee pays for tools, continued training and transportation to and from a job. No skilled or reputable locksmith that does not charge a callout could remain in business. Get an estimate before any work begins, including emergency service. Don’t hire a locksmith who refuses to provide a quote.

Inquire about additional charges: ask about extra charges for things like emergency hours, mileage or service call minimums before you agree to have the work performed. The scammers might also claim the lock on your home or car is obsolete and needs to be replaced. They’ll charge hundreds of rands to replace the lock with what they claim is a high-security lock, but in reality, it’s a cheap lock offering little protection. Reputable locksmiths should be able to answer questions about the intended repair including how they’ll get into your car or home, and the cost of those services. If the locksmith refuses to answer – HANG UP!. This is a sign of someone who either doesn’t know what they’re doing or plans to overcharge you for a job.

Watch out for fluctuating bids: If the locksmith’s on-site price doesn’t match the phone estimate, don’t just accept the adjusted price and pay the bill without an explanation. Some locksmiths may demand payment after doing shoddy work or inflating the bill; a reputable company won’t drastically change the quoted price without discussing it with the client first.

Don’t allow “destructive entry” by a locksmith: If you’re locked out, be wary of locksmiths who recommend or insist on drilling / breaking the lock, forcing you to replace it. There are rare occasions where drilling is necessary, but this should be the last option as most experienced locksmiths possess the skills and tools to unlock almost any door. High security locks are designed to stop people from bumping or picking a door open, and they require specialised keys cut to comply with the lock’s grooves. In these cases, the locksmith may use a cheaper replacement lock as a temporary option while sourcing / ordering a replacement lock of the same security level (with your approval on receipt of a quote for the replacement lock).


Ask these questions before hiring a locksmith. If a business can’t provide detailed answers, don’t hire them.

  • Where area do you operate in?
  • Do you need a picture of the lock?•
  • Can you give me a quote? •
  • What factors will cause this price to change?•
  • Do you require cash, or can I pay with an e-wallet or credit card?•
  • What’s the name of the locksmith who will be coming?

Attached is an example of a customer who contacted us after they had a bad experience with an unqualified handyman presenting as a qualified locksmith. PLEASE NOTE, THIS IS NOT THE INVOICE OF NORTHRIDING LOCKSMITH (we have all of our company details on the invoice as per government legislation).

Invoice of confirmed unqualified locksmith charging excessively