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There are several instances when you might need to have an extra set of keys made for you. Perhaps you need to give a family member, a tenant or a business associate access to your home, property, or office. Perhaps you are building or renovating a new home or office and you need someone to secure the place. You probably need to have a safe or vault installed so that you can keep some important documents or belongings. Perhaps you lost your purse where your home or office key was placed, or probably the original key got destroyed. There are also emergency situations when you might need to enter your home or vehicle but you do not have the key to the main door. During these special times, you will need the key cutting services of a locksmith.
However, choosing a locksmith to do the work for you needs more careful consideration than you ever thought of. There are several things at stake, such as your safety and security, by giving a stranger the opportunity to access your personal property. Listed below are some reminders and tips that you should consider when choosing a locksmith for key cutting services.
Why would you need a locksmith?
Key cutting in simpler terms means duplicating keys. When you need a spare set of keys, you will always need to go to a locksmith for good quality duplicates. However, they can do more than just provide key cutting services. Here’s a list of other services that a well-trained and reputable master locksmith could do for you:
- Install and repair UPVC locks for doors and windows.
- Supply, install, move, open and repair safe boxes and big vaults.
- Provide, install, program and repair remote controlled keys for vehicles.
- Some trained and accredited locksmiths can also install electronic access control systems suitable for your property.
- Provide emergency 24-hour service in case you get locked out of your house or vehicle outside normal operating office hours.
How to choose the right locksmith
There are several things that you should consider before contacting a locksmith and asking for his service. There may be a lot of people who can say that they can do the work for you, but don’t easily fall for it. It is advisable to begin your search for a reputable locksmith that you can rely on before you actually you need one so that you can find the most suitable one. Make sure that you do the following things before you agree to have key cutting services performed for you.
- Perform a background check.
Are you just going to trust anybody to gain access to your home or property? Are you going to entrust the safety and security of your family to a random stranger?
These are the questions that you should ask yourself before contacting a locksmith. It is important for you to conduct a background check to learn about the locksmith’s history. Aside from finding out about his educational and training background, you also need to check if your locksmith has any criminal records. Someone who could tinker with the locks of your home should be completely trustworthy. After all, he is someone who now has access to your personal property.
- Make sure he is MLA-approved.
In the UK, locksmiths are not regulated by the government. They are not required to take exams that would qualify them for a license. Aside from that, according to the MLA website, they have found out that there is no truth to the claims of some locksmiths that they have been registered with the police. This makes it easy for just anybody to decide to offer key cutting services and advertise themselves as good locksmiths. But how do you pick out the real deal?
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) is a non-profit organization that was established to fill in the gaps in regulating and establishing standards and code of ethics within the industry. All MLA-approved locksmiths have met the following criteria, according to the MLA website:
Vetted: This means that the company has undergone evaluation by the experts in the locksmith industry before they were accepted as a member of the association.
Inspected: The company’s practices and quality of work are inspected to make sure that they are at par with the association’s standards.
Qualified: MLA-approved locksmiths are highly trained. They undergo several years of training and should past several rigorous examinations before they can be approved as a member of the association.
- Get recommendations from friends.
Ask your family and friends if they know of any reputable locksmiths within your area. Ask them to give you an honest review of their experience with a locksmith that they contacted. However, aside from hearing out positive feedback from those you know, conduct your own research and look further into the locksmith’s background. It may be a tedious and time-consuming process, but you can never take your family’s safety and the security of your possessions lightly.
- Choose from companies within your area.
It is more advisable to choose from companies within your locality because they have better control of the personnel that they hire to serve their customers. Big companies that have nation-wide coverage usually just dispatch a subcontractor that they have not personally checked and assessed.
- Seek recommendations from a third-party company
Third-party companies that work hand in hand with locksmiths usually give accreditation for those that they have personally trained to handle their products. Examples of these companies are manufacturers of keys and locks, alarm systems and producers of other security tools and equipment.
Why choose the right company for key cutting services (Advantages of an MLA-approved locksmith)
Aside from the fact that MLA-approved locksmiths have been meticulously picked by experts, they also have insurance that can cover any unavoidable damages on your property.
MLA-approved locksmiths follow a standard procedure of confirming your identity before carrying out their task and assessing the property for the best possible solution that could cause the least damage and cost the least amount.
MLA-approved locksmiths have complete tools and equipment and are trained to use them properly and correctly to give you back access into your property.
MLA-approved locksmiths are updated with the latest security and safety trends and technology because they are required to regularly attend conventions and seminars to improve their skills and knowledge.
What to do before you contact a locksmith
Let’s say you put an ad on Facebook that you are looking for a good locksmith and someone replies that they can do the job for you. What do you do?
Do not immediately take their word for it! You have to check if there is truth to their claims:
- Remember, locksmiths in the UK are not regulated, so don’t fall for numerous logos of government agencies on their website. If they show the MLA logo on their website, you can double check with the Association by going to their website (http://www.locksmiths.co.uk/) and searching their database.
- Check the legitimacy of their published office address and phone number. Beware of those who put out fake addresses. Make sure that you can find them exactly where they say they are.
- Ask for an updated MLA ID card.
How not to be scammed by locksmiths
The most common “locksmith scams” start online. Fake companies offering locksmith services abound online. Mostly they have a non-existent address, and their website is filled with fake reviews. How will you know if you’re about to fall for this scam? The first red flag would be having your call answered by a contact center. This means that you won’t be talking to real locksmiths who actually know what the exact job entails. The customer service representative will be quoting a lower price that unsuspecting and uninformed customers usually bite. The company then sends a handyman, who may or may not be an actual locksmith. They will most likely damage your door or lock and declare a steeper price than you were previously informed.
This is why it is better to contact a local locksmith with an established reputation in your area. If there is none available and you have to look for one outside your city, be sure to ask for a quotation for the job that they will do for you. For more complex works such as installation of a security system, it would be better to ask for an itemized estimate where all the details of the work that will be involved is reflected. When the assigned locksmith arrives at your home, confirm the price for the job before allowing him to start in order to check if his price matches the quotation received from his office. If it does not, then do not allow work to start. You will most likely be scammed.
When the locksmith arrives at your location, make sure to check the vehicle if it has the MLA logo. The locksmith should also be able to present an updated MLA card.
If the locksmith announces that he needs to take out the damaged lock, beware! Trained locksmiths have the knowledge and the tools to pick any lock. Destroying the lock shouldn’t be the first option.
This video shows a highly advanced key cutting machine. You don’t have to spend a large amount of money to get one. It would be better to get professional help in case you need key cutting services.
How to make sure you receive quality key cutting service
Using good quality duplicate keys can save you from further trouble and expenses. High quality key cutting service prevents further damage to the lock and prevents you from getting locked out. Here are some tips to ensure that you have a well-duplicated key:
- Make sure that the key can be duplicated. Some keys are designed so that they cannot be copied. It is an added security feature.
- When having a car key duplicated, inform the locksmith of the car brand, year and model. This ensures that they use the correct blank key especially for newer models that have electronic details embedded inside the key.
- For a higher degree of accuracy, it is advisable to use the original key to copy the duplicate from.
- The locksmith should use the correct key blank when duplicating.
- The blank key and the original key should be aligned to make sure that the grooves and flats can be transferred correctly.
- A proper locksmith will ensure that the copy has no rough edges that could scour the inside of your lock and that would eventually damage it.
Key cutting service for vehicles
If your car keys have been damaged or stolen, do not worry! Locksmiths can also perform key cutting services for vehicles. However, there are different types of car keys depending on the year your car was made, the brand and the model.
- Keys with transponder chips are usually common for cars manufactured after 1995
- Electronic or remote keys
- Standard car keys with no electronics inside
Be sure to give the locksmith complete information before requesting for your car key to be duplicated. This ensures that the copy will work perfectly, and you can use your vehicle without any further trouble.
- First confirm your identity and ownership of the vehicle by showing an identification card and certificate of ownership or registration.
- Identification and registration number of your vehicle
- Manufacturer, year and model of the vehicle
Even if your vehicle’s key got damaged or if you completely lost it, there is no need to fret. Most MLA-approved locksmiths have complete materials and tools to handle your situation. They can provide new transponder chips, reprogram keys, and reconfigure locks. Changing your car’s lock is not really necessary if you lost your keys as most MLA-approved locksmiths can reconfigure your car’s security system.
You also do not need to worry about bringing your vehicle to the locksmith’s office in order to receive key cutting service. Most MLA-approved locksmiths can work onsite since they have fully equipped vans to help them perform their job.
What to do when you are scammed by a locksmith
If in case you’ve fallen for a fake locksmith, make sure to report it to the property authorities. If the scammer used the Master Locksmiths Association’s logo, be sure to report it to the association through their website.