3OYS: Valley woman 'unlocks' partial refund to locksmith dilemma

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Chasing down locksmiths accused of overcharging consumers isn't uncommon for 3 On Your Side. You may recall this incident, when Gary Harper confronted a Valley businessman who charged his customers way too much.

"You can call and check it out," a local locksmith said.
 
"I've already talked to him. He's really mad at you," said Gary Harper. "In fact, he's putting out this flier saying that you're a phony locksmith. That's you."
 
"That's not me," the locksmith asked. "No, it's not me. You can check it out."
 
"I've already checked it out," Harper said. "I'm talking to you, but you're running away."
 
Even legitimate and reputable locksmiths like Robert Vallelunga, who owns Acme Locksmith, tell 3 On Your Side that the industry is treacherous and sometimes preys on consumers.
 
"It happens a lot," Vallelunga said. "It's a big problem nationwide."
 
Erica Stevens found out the hard way. In a recent 3 On Your Side report, she told us she bought brand new locks to be put on her door and called a locksmith to install them .
 
After getting a verbal quote on the phone for $35, Stevens agreed to pay. But when the locksmith handed her the bill, the charge was $370.
   
Even though the bill doesn't mention the name of the locksmith or even show a phone number, 3 On Your Side tracked down the company, which claimed it knew nothing about Stevens or the $370 it charged her.
   
However, there is an update to her case.
 
"I was able to dispute the charges on my credit card and my debit card," she said.
 
Following 3 On Your Side's suggestion, Stevens contacted her credit union and told them she believed she was fraudulently overcharged.
   
As a result, her credit union and bank say they will refund her money and adjust her charge down to $125, which Stevens says is a fair amount.    
        
"I want to tell the 3 On Your Side team thank you for helping me and guiding me in the right direction, and getting my money back and putting the word out there to other people to be careful with who you have coming out to your house - whether it's a locksmith or another company," Stevens said.