3OYS investigates locksmith complaints

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX-- The locksmith industry is not regulated here in Arizona, and as a result, consumers have to be very careful.

3 On Your Side wanted to know why a man named Ami Hanan charged a Scottsdale woman nearly $1,000 for a job that experts say shouldn’t have been more than a couple hundred bucks.  

GARY: "the locksmith we talked to say this should not have cost almost $1,000!

AMI: “I don't care, every locksmith have different prices and this the price of the company that I work with."

He's right.  Legally, locksmiths can charge whatever they want, but people like Debra Anderson say ethically it's not fair.

Debra and her husband wanted six locks re-keyed and a deadbolt installed on their new house so, they got online, and set up an appointment with a locksmith, but that's when Ami Hanan showed up.  Debra thought he represented the business her husband contacted, but that wasn't the case.

A Valley locksmith we spoke with says ghost companies have flooded the Internet search engines with similar sounding company names in order to lure business away. 

According to Debra, they never talked about price in advance, but when the work was completed, she was shocked when she was given a $926.00 bill.

"I kind of thought that was an awful lot, but also I’m here by myself with him and I’m not sure, I don't know," said Debra.

Debra became suspicious when the bill didn't have a business name at the top and Ami asked to have the check made out in his name.  Instead, Debra says she went to the bank and just paid him cash.  And that bothers other locksmiths like Roland Malone.

"Just gouging people it's just not right. It’s wrong," said Roland.

Roland has 30 years in the business and currently owns two locksmith companies.  Debra says she believed she had initially made the appointment with one of Roland's companies when Ami Hanan showed up at her doorstep instead.

Roland says it's not surprising. Locksmiths do not have to be licensed in Arizona and they're not regulated.

There have been so many locksmith issues the Federal Trade Commission put out a warning a few years ago urging consumers to use caution when hiring a locksmith.

"We have a name that we live by,” said Roland. “And our name is very, very, popular and they use our name."

Ami, though, says he's legit and says so is the company he works for, although he refused to give me the name of that company but was wearing a shirt with a business name that read "24/7 365 Locksmith Services."

We also did some homework and found paperwork filed with the State of Arizona that indicates Ami Hanan owns a locksmith company called First 24/7.

Roland Malone tells 3 On Your Side that because the industry is not regulated, consumers get gouged, so he's even sending out flyers, warning consumers to watch out for what he calls, "phony locksmith scams."

For more information visit: www.aloa.org/index.php or  www.legallocksmiths.com/