On Your Side confronts locksmith without credentials

Published: Nov. 1, 2018 at 2:09 PM CDT
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If you've ever locked yourself out of your car, you need a locksmith stat. Upset customers tell On Your Side you cannot trust Google to always bring up the business you're searching for.

"He just stuck that rod down in there and grabbed my handle right there and popped it open. It took him two seconds," said Shelly Goodenough.

She thought she called Pop-A-Lock.

"I typed Pop-A-Lock into my computer on my phone. I looked at my friend and said, 'Doesn't Pop-A-Lock have something written on the side of their car?' And he said, 'Well, I thought so,' We thought this guy was from Pop-A-Lock," she said.

That quick fix cost $79.

"I was furious. Livid. I live on disability and $80 was my grocery money," she said.

When you Google Pop-A-Lock on your phone, the first number, is not a local 417 number.

"That's not us. We are driving a billboard so the customer knows this is who is showing up to help me," said Mitch Piles with Pop-A-Lock.

On Your Side wanted to know, who is behind this number? With two sets of keys, cash and a hat. We went undercover. The man who showed up said he's name is Matt Rott. He did not have business card or a marked car. He could not provide proof of a business license. He showed Ashley Reynolds an invoice with an L.L.C. and a tax ID number. Ten minutes in, he did not ask Ashley Reynolds to show her ID. For vehicles, Springfield city code requires locksmiths to see customer ID before doing the job.

During our experience, we were told three different business names. That invoice he showed has another name. That LLC is registered with the Secretary of State's office.

A customer showed us his receipt, with yet another name. Five names, not one with a Springfield business license.

That number leads to dispatch service in New York. We talked with management. They told us Matt has a work agreement with the website. There's a disclaimer at the bottom of page. It reads 'customers must screen technicians and make educated decisions'.

If you need a locksmith, know these three things:

1. If you want a local company, make sure it's a local number.

2. It's good practice for locksmiths to identify themselves right off the bat with a marked car or a business card. Locksmiths must have a business license to work in Springfield.

3. Always ask for a price estimate when you call so you can dodge surprises.