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Locksmith: Beware of discounters
The door is closed, nerves are on edge and the locksmith service that the search engine proposes on top of the list promises prompt help. Many Austrian consumers who faced this or a likely situation commissioned shady fitters from the neighbouring country. As soon as the door was opened, they demanded up to 1.000 Euro. In most cases, they pressured the consumers to pay immediately.
The European Consumer Centres (ECC) in Austria and Germany know such cases from many narrations of harmed consumers. A problem of such dubious providers is that they are often not trained specialists. They break the door open poorly and often even damage it.
Research of the ECCs showed that some of the German services didn't have a business license for Austria. Furthermore, in some cases the locksmith didn't even exist as a company or they stated a wrong address on the invoice. Due to those circumstances, getting money back was almost impossible.
Some tips against locksmith rip-off:
- Give an extra set of keys to a trustworthy neighbour or friend. Alternatively, there are providers who will deposit your keys and bring them to you in cases of emergency (key deposit). If you lose your key, you don't have to call a locksmith service.
- Don't contact the first provider listed by a search engine. Especially avoid those with a "0800-" phone number as they often work cross-border and are only interested in their profit. Dubious services sometimes use annexes like "AA" in order to be appear on top of alphabetical lists.
- When you call a locksmith, ask for the price. If they won't tell you on the telephone, look for another provider.
- Only pay with credit card. With "chargeback", your bank or credit card provider can get your money back. Please note that this is an amicable solution and that you are not legally entitled to a chargeback.
- Call the police if they pressure you.
- Due to the fact that you conclude a contract outside the premises of the service provider, it is important that they give you written information regarding your rights of withdrawal. If they don't do so, you could withdraw and request a refund even months after the incidence.
Where to find professional providers:
- The Austrian Chamber of Commerce (Wirtschaftskammer, WKO) gives information on which providers have a business license in Austria. The hotline 513 513 8 can be reached 24 hours a day and will connect you to licensed key services.
- The "Kuratorium für Einbruchsschutz und Objektsicherung" (KEO, organisation for burglary protection and property protection) developed a quality label called "Gütesiegel Aufsperrer". Employees of certified firms will carry a respective badge.
- Comparison is always recommended. Even companies with certificates have differences in quality.
Help from ECC Austria
The European Consumer Centres Germany and Austria support consumers who struggle with a company situated in the EU, Norway or Iceland.
If you have a problem with a dubious key service, you can turn to the Austrian Verein für Konsumenteninformation (national provider) or to the European Consumer Centre Austria (provider from another EU Member State). In case of fraud, please contact the police.