The tendency of people to seek lower cost over higher value leads them into many bad situations. Recently, it has led people to become victims of the nationwide Locksmith Scam. The Scam works like this: A "Locksmith Referral" company takes out a large ad in the local yellow pages advertising locksmith services with fake local addresses and prices so low they are almost beyond belief.
The Locksmith Ledger magazine recently featured an article on this. [link] In it the story of a senior citizen is told. She called a locksmith and was quoted $35 to do a lock repair. However, when the locksmith came out he actually charged her $300 for the lock repair!
Don't be a victim of the Locksmith Scam! Check out that local address and see if a locksmith is really there. Beware when you call a supposed local number and end up talking to an exchange service. Don't focus so much on big ads that offer low prices for they are often a trap. Find local people you can talk to directly. Ask your friends and associates which locksmith can be trusted for your rekey, lock change, or lock repair.
Google Enables Scammers With Poor "Maps" Address Verification System
I recently went on Google Maps to look for locksmiths in Los Gatos. I do a good deal of my work in the Los Gatos area and was interested to see who the competition is. Because I have been doing locksmith work in Los Gatos since 1986, and still maintain a business presence there, I know that besides myself there is only one other locksmith in town. Yet, to my surprise, when I went on Google Maps I discovered over half a dozen businesses advertising that they had a locksmith shop in Los Gatos! A closer look at the listings revealed that most of them were using fake address numbers on familiar local streets (which is a common tactic of the nationwide locksmith scam).
However, one of the addresses seemed familiar to me. At first I could not place it and then I realized that it was actually the address of one of my long time clients. Quite surprised by this I called up my client and asked, "Do you have a locksmith in your building?" She, of course, said, "No John, you are my locksmith." Then I told her that according to Google Maps you do have a locksmith in your building. Shocked and upset that this business had stolen her address my client called the fake locksmith out, under the guise of asking him to do a lock change and lock repair, and read him the riot act. The situation was then reported to the town of Los Gatos and they called him up and read him the riot act. In both cases it was made very clear that he was to remove my client's address from the Google Maps listing immediately or face the consequences.
The sham locksmith responded to these requests by "verifying" my client's address as being his own on the Google Maps site! Curious about how this person had managed to "verify" that he was at an address that he in fact was not at I decided to create a business listing on Google Maps. To my amazement I found out that Google Maps allows you to enter any business listing you might choose and then "verify" the address of said listing by simply calling you at the phone number you just listed!
The implication of this faulty "verification" system is that you can never trust any business listing you find on Google Maps (unless you know the listing to be true from some other source). Because the information on Google Maps is left widely open to fraud Google is in effect enabling the sham locksmiths to continue to scam consumers.
Google has now gone to a postcard verification system for its new listings. This system involves anyone getting a new listing having a postcard mailed to the address on said listing with a verification code on it. Thus the listing cannot go live until this verification of the address in the listing is made. This represents an improvement in Google's system yet it still has a major problem to clean up with false listings.
A recent article"Insider: Google 'map jacking' is rampant, a threat to public safety"suggests that Google still has problems with fake business listings and specifically mentions locksmiths. This is indeed troubling.
Verizon "Super Pages" Not So Super?
I ran into another client just yesterday who used the Verizon "Super Pages" to call a locksmith who claimed to be local to Los Gatos. She was so disturbed by the poor level of service and appearance of this locksmith that she asked a friend for a referral and got my number.
If you are looking for a locksmith with ties to the Los Gatos - Saratoga area I have been doing work there continuously since 1986. If you were to add up all of the time doing service in the Los Gatos - Saratoga area of the scam locksmiths they would be hard pressed as a group to match my individual 30 years. Although, for security and privacy reasons, I do not use the names of my clients to advertise I can say that they feature several of the major institutions in town. The bottom line is that if you are looking for a locksmith with local ties in the Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Saratoga area John's Lock & Key is the one to call.
The Verizon "Super Pages" phone book in Los Gatos has been advertising the scam locksmiths as "Locksmith Referral Services." As I was a Verizon advertiser I made them quite aware, on several occasions, that these "Referral Services" are nothing but a front for the scam locksmiths. Despite my warnings Verizon, the home phone company of the Los Gatos area, continues to do business with the scammers. Therefore, John's Lock and Key is no longer doing business with them. And, in my opinion, you should carefully consider if you wish to continue to use the services of a company like Verizon who seems to have little regard for the consumers of Los Gatos.
Google Seeks Redemption With its New
"Adwords Express" yet it is Best to Still "Go Organic."
Google's latest gambit into the advertising world was unveiled in the summer of 2015. "Adwords Express" promises to fix everything that is wrong with the online advertising of locksmiths even to the point of giving each of them a Pinkerton background check (which is in fact redundant because the State of California already does such checks before they issue a locksmith license).
The irony here is that the crisis of false advertising by scam locksmiths was at least partially created by Google's own lax practices (see "Locksmith Scam!") yet they now wish us to believe that they are going to rush to the rescue! So what is actually going on here?
In short, Google has figured out a way to "monetize" the crisis. However, in doing so the "organic" results on the left side of the Google search page are being pushed further and further down into oblivion by the new Adwords Express ads (the column on the far right side has always been Adwords ads). "Organic result" is a term that essentially means a true result of a search query. And good first page organic results are what Google had been known for and built its reputation upon. For the natural expectation of a person when using a search engine is that the search results received will in someway reflect reality--in some way be true. However, Google seems to have decided that truth is not as important as money so now the top "results" you will see on their search engine's first page will all be ads.
All of this is interesting but what does it mean for the average consumer? If you are looking for a good local locksmith, or any other kind of service professional, things just got harder and you are going to have to dig deeper down the page, past the Adwords Express ads, for the organic results . Even the phone numbers in these Adwords Express ads are misleading because they are not the real phone numbers of the locksmiths but ones generated by Google to track customer data. And this fact, as well as the background check process itself, has some legal minds saying that the "contractors" in these ads might now actually Google employees! (and the recent Uber legal ruling on this issue adds weight to this opinion).
Will Google continue to be a reliable search engine that attempts to bring people good organic results or will they give into greed and, so to speak, put the truth up for sale? Will all locksmiths be foolish enough to let Google take away their phone number and covertly make them into employees or will some of them resist? What will the effect of many locksmiths becoming pseudo Google employees be on the average consumer?
These answers are still to come yet one thing does seem certain: The old term "Go Organic" just took on a whole new meaning!