When You Want to Protect Something Important, You Want an American Security / AMSEC Safe
Unfortunately, this home was recently lost to the Carr Fire in Redding, Ca. Upon returning the owners discovered complete devastation. The house had burned HOT and was still smoldering several days later.
But then…there was this safe…still standing…
The lock had burned off so it would have to be drilled. Now this is an American Security /AMSEC TL-rated safe with a 2-hr fire rating. This AMSEC safe is as high-end as it gets. They are designed to protect their content and can cost a few thousand dollars. My best guess is that this safe was probably in the neighborhood of $5,000. It’s so secure, it took a California locksmith 3 1/2 hours to drill it open.
What did he find? The entire content of this safe survived the fire! Wedding ring, coin collections, stamps… it all made it!
Now here’s a photo of what’s left of one of those big-box-store safes. These safes sell for under $1,000. Who got the better deal on their safe?
Safes are like parachutes, when you need one you don’t want it to be made cheap. To be sold cheap, cheap safes are simply made cheap. They don’t protect their content.
AMSEC conducted an internal study of the fire rating of their BF line of safes against those of the competitors. AMSEC’s BF line of gun safes is 2-hr fire rated safe. Check out these results. NONE of the competitors safes came close to their fire ratings.
Sometimes, not often, but sometimes we hear from customers,
“Why are you charging me so much? You were done in 10 minutes.”
There’s a certain part of the locksmith industry that is extremely complicated. There are so many locks, keys, and hardware brands out there that every job ends up being different. This simple truth makes jobs hard to quote site unseen, we simply don’t know what we will run into, but we are asked to do this every time a customer calls.
But, and this is important, a customer should NEVER pay more than any locksmith quoted for the most-common lock services (such as lockouts, rekeying locks, and trip charges). But I just said every job is unique. There are a variety of things that can make a job take longer, just as there are a variety of things that can make a job go quicker. So how can we quote an exact price for these locksmith services when we don’t know how long it’s going to take due to an infinite number of possibilities? Isn’t a job that takes 60 minutes to complete worth more in billing than a job that takes 10 minutes to complete? In the mind of the consumer, it is.
But our answer, and most often the answer of legitimate service-based companies, is in average-based pricing. We charge based on the service we are hired to perform, based on our knowledge of the average time it takes for that service, regardless of how long it actually takes to do a specific job.
For example. We can unlock some cars in a few moments, but some turn out to be difficult and can take much longer. We charge a flat rate for the unlock service regardless of if we are in quick or struggling to open the car. The customer’s car we struggle with sees us working hard, in the AZ heat, sweat pouring off our forehead. They are extremely happy they got such a great deal on the price. But, the customer we get into in just a few moments may think, “That only took a minute, that’s too expensive!”
However, it’s the same service performed. We were hired to unlock the car, we unlocked the car. And it’s at the same, agreed-to price, regardless of how long it takes us, but perception to the customer can be different. Customers are paying for an exchange of service. We quote the price for that service, and we perform that service at that price, every time. Sometimes we come out ahead (i.e. get it done fast) and some times we don’t, but it’s unethical for us to charge the person whose car takes longer than expected to get into any more than we quoted them. We also won’t charge the customer who’s car we got into quickly any less.
It is the same for automotive key programming, one flat rate for all vehicles. And for home rekeying, one quote for every home with standard residential hardware. This last point is what prompted my post. There is a small subset of residential hardware that can be rekeyed very quick under the right circumstances. Under the wrong set of circumstance this same set of residential hardware is a nightmare to rekey. We quote one price for the rekey service, and we stay at that price no matter what we run into. It’s ethical of us to stick to our price when it’s difficult, and it’s fair of us to stick to the price when it’s quick, because we are performing the service hired to do for the price agreed to by the customer.
Our goal is to keep out prices as affordable as possible. We remain well under the national average for nearly every locksmith service we perform. And we also want to make enough money to stay in business and feed the families of our employees. Those are our goals. Average-based pricing allows us to quote customer quickly and simply, stick to the price no matter what the job, and provide a good value on the whole. We appreciate your understanding.
There has always been a big hole in product offerings in the safe industry–small yet secure safes. So customers with small spaces have always had to choose between size or security. It’s just plain hard to build security into a small safe and keep the price point down. Anytime someone walked into our shop and said, “I want a small safe, but it has to be fire rated and burglary rated,” I knew I was in for trouble. We didn’t have any, no one did. But there is a big demand for a small yet secure safe, especially for jewelry.
Now, we have an solution we can be proud of. The first affordable, small home safe we carry that has a 3/8 inch solid steel plate in the door, inner locking bolts, anti-punch bolt work, and more. Though small, this safe is burglary rated and is built as tough as the larger safes. The security features are incredible! One of the things that most impressed us about this safe is the fingerprint / bio-metric lock technology. It’s the only bio-metric lock with a VDS European certification. What does that mean? It means you won’t get false positives that allows someone to gain access to the safe when they are not enrolled in the lock. We trust it. And it’s fire rated for 30 minutes at 1500℉ (most home fires only reach temperatures less than 1200℉).
This small burglary safe is in stock at our Scottsdale and Mesa locations. Here’s our latest shipment. Come on in to see these safes or Buy Safes Online using our website.
Q: Does Arizona require all locksmiths to be licensed?
A: No, but….it does require licensed locksmiths for any job performed over $1,000.
Q: So how many licensed locksmith companies are there in the Phoenix Metro area?
A: About 10
Q: So why does nearly every locksmith website say they are licensed and bonded?
A: Sadly, no one checks to see if they are being given truthful information. We find it outrageous that lock companies being hired to protect homes and businesses are lying to their customers.
Q: Why does ACME Locksmith carry an ROC License if it’s only required on large jobs?
A: We want you to understand that our company is the best-of-the-best. We go through the cost of maintaining our ROC license to ensure your protection. Whether your job requires a licensed locksmith or not, you’re protected by using a licensed company.
Q: Why do I care if I hire a licensed locksmith?
A: For your protection, safety & peace of mind.
It gives you peace of mind that the job will be performed correctly. To earn a license, a licensed locksmith must have several years of experience and pass an aptitude test.
It gives you a method of recourse should anything go wrong and not be corrected. The ROC has a complaint process that will assist you in getting the issue resolved to your satisfaction.
This differs from an agency like the BBB as no constraints are put on businesses to maintain a level of quality.
Pay what you’re quoted. Licensed companies have a lot to loose. We quote honest, upfront pricing based on your job description. We don’t quote $14-$39 trip charges and then jack up the price like some unlicensed companies may do.
Licensing guarantees the company is bonded. Bonding is often confused for insurance, but there is a notable difference. A bond is intended to act as a guarantee that the contractor will perform the work as he or she is supposed to.
If you’re an employee, it protects your job. If you are an employee hiring an unlicensed company to perform jobs where a license is required, should something go wrong on that job, your job is at risk if the company cannot get it corrected.
Want Someone Elses Key? Just Take a Picture of It.
New apps will send you an exact copy of a key from a photo you send them. You may say, “So what?” Check out our chat below.
Anyone can simply snap a picture of your home or business key and have it mailed directly to them. Voila! They are in your home or business. This company confirmed that they would send me a key of my girlfriends home from a picture so I could “break in” when she wasn’t home.
Here’s how it works.
Say you have your keys lying on the counter, or on your desk at work, or on a table while out at dinner.
Who ever is with you, that new date from Tinder (who you know virtually nothing about), the slightly more than jealous ex-girl/boy friend that you’re trying to be just friends with, a frenemy from work/school, or a disgruntled employee just snaps a quick photo of that key. They send it to the app and an exact copy of your key is mailed to them. BOOM! They have a key to your home or your business.
This is a gross violation of your safety! Why would they do this? Why would they risk it? They will also provide you the cuts to the key and say “take it to a locksmith to have the key made” for emergency situations.
I can tell you. WE WILL NOT BE CUTTING KEYS FROM THIS APP. I don’t know who that key is for. I can’t verify you have access rights to the property from a photo. If I cut that key, I’m putting you at risk. ACME Locksmith will not do it.
Shame on this company and other like them.
How Can You Protect Your Property?
This is not the only company offering keys made from photos. These services are popping up everywhere. Here’s what you can do:
The only way to stop this from happening for certain is to have you home placed on a keyway that is not available to these businesses. They can only perform this service for the most common keyways, not restricted keyways. Restricted keyways can only be copied by credible locksmith copies because they are not readily available.
Short of that, keep your keys hidden. Relationships fall apart, employees leave, etc….Don’t leave your keys out so someone can snap a picture.
Keyless entry has made it’s why to the residential market. There are a number of good home electronic locks out there, our favorite is from Arrow (shown). The Arrow lock is sleek, has a beautiful look to it, and voice guided programming instruction.
Why would you want an electronic for your home?
You’ll never be locked out of the house. If you’ve ever been locked out, you know what a hassle it can be. First you check all the doors seeing if you left one unlocked. Then all the window. Eventually you call a locksmith and wait for them to arrive. Avoid all that hassle by using a code to get in. No key required.
Do you have children walking home from school? They’ll never be locked out, and you can be certain they’re safe.
Dog sitter, house cleaner, boyfriend/girlfriend? Should any of those relationships turn sour, just remove their code from the system, and you and your home are instantly protected.
Call ACME Locksmith today to have your lock installed and programmed. There are touch screen deadbolts with optional bluetooth and wireless capabilities available or the more affordable push button style. We love the Arrow touch screen deadbolt and our drivers carry it in Satin Nickel and Oil Rubbed Bronze. It has the following lock features:
Voice guided programming (including Spanish)
Optional bluetooth and optional wireless capability for quick code changes
Modern look and feel
25 user codes
Programmable without removing the back side of the deadbolt
1 year electronic warranty
Lifetime mechanical and finish warranty
Key override. Should the batteries ever go dead or the lock malfunction, you and your children will still be able to get into the home.
A few years ago it was relatively easy to spot a SCAM locksmith. By this I mean a locksmith that may do the work they were hired to do, but they’ll charge up to 10X what a legitimate company would charge. Can you imagine being told you owe $300 for a car opening you were quoted $39 plus labor for? Sadly, we’ve seen this type of locksmith fraud. Lately we’ve noticed a shift though. They are raising the rates from what they quote, but only by about 3X. This way, they get your job by quoting low, yet the con isn’t so obvious to those not knowing the going rate. Whats more is that they are getting very good at hiding any negative reviews revealing this tactic by overwhelming the search engines with hundreds of positive reviews.
At ACME Locksmith, we take great pride in delivering great service. We have 13 employees and service over 5,000 customers per year. Over a 10-year span, we have earned over 500 5-star-rated Google reviews for our company. Everyone of those reviews can be tied to a customer receipt. I can tell you, it is HARD to get a Google review. In our experience, 0.5% (or 1 out of every 200 customers) will take the time to right a Google review. We have several hundred reviews on other sites, but lets face it, Google is King, and it is especially hard to get a Google review. Why is it so hard?
First, customers need a Google account to write a Google review. If they don’t have an Android phone, they likely don’t have a Google account. iPhone users with Google accounts are rare.
Second, even if they have a Google account, while people are quick to complain about a service, it’s much more difficult to get a satisfied customer to tout a good service. Once the service is received, they’re getting on with their day. They soon forget about it. The customer’s experience really has to be stellar for them to remember, go back, and write a review.
But in just the past year, we’ve seen brand new “locksmith” companies on Google getting 400, 600, and even 1000’s of Google reviews in just a few months. Are they real? These “locksmiths” have circumvented the limited Googles safeguards to get these reviews posted and look completely legitimate to someone who doesn’t have time to do the research.
One such company has been in business on Google for 9 months. They currently have over 1000 reviews!!! These guys are great! That’s over 110 reviews per month! I want to hire them, heck, I want to be them!
But when we dive into this a bit, the numbers don’t hold up. I’ve confirmed this company has just one driver on the road performing service. A quick locksmith can handle at most 7 calls a day, which includes driving around to and from calls. So they can service at maximum 35 calls per week or 140 calls a month. IF AND ONLY IF, they are fully booked, every day, without a single slow day or holiday.
I can tell you, after 10 years in the locksmith business, this is not possible. There are busy days and slow days, but lets assume it is possible just to continue our thought process. That means that 79% of this company’s customers are writing them 5-star Google reviews. 79% !!! This company is truly amazing. Not only do 79% of their customers have the Google account needed to write the review, but 100% of those customers were so impressed by the service that they took the time to write a review! I wish I had these customers!
If you haven’t guessed it. These customers don’t exist. There are however review farms that unscrupulous lock service companies can hire to write fake reviews. Don’t believe me? We get asked by these crooks to hire them all the time.
These companies create accounts and write reviews; that’s all they do. We’ve even seen these companies copy and paste reviews from other lock businesses onto their own business. Seriously. Word for word. Even when the city/state mentioned in the review isn’t the state where the lock company is located.
But who has the time to figure all this out? When you are in a bind and need a locksmith, you certainly don’t.
Another company we investigated had 500 reviews in under 1 year, another too good to be true number. So we hired them to see what they were doing. At the end of the service he asked our secret shopper who was on her phone, “Can I borrow your phone for just a second?” and proceeded to write a review on her phone about how good his service was. I couldn’t believe that he asked. I couldn’t believe that anyone would hand him their phone.
Is it OK to write your own reviews? We believe it’s good business to ask for reviews. If a customer takes the time to write one, then well done. But taking a customers cell phone and rating and raving about yourself, well that seems dishonest to me. And a company using a review farm is way outside of the moral ground. Do you want to hire a lock security company with such dubious morals?
So how can you be sure to hire a credible company that you can trust?
Hire a licensed locksmith company. Companies that go through licensing have best in class businesses. Especially in Arizona where licensing is NOT required. ACME Locksmith is one of fewer than 10 licensed locksmiths in Phoenix-Metro area. Almost everyone advertising as a locksmith is claiming to be licensed and bonded. Ask for their ROC license number to confirm. When they don’t have one, and they’re website is telling you they do, hang up and call the next guy.
Look for steady reviews, over a sustained period of time. Remember, it’s hard to get reviews. Small locksmith services that are getting 5 reviews per day should raise a red flag.
Look for bad reviews. Try as we might, someone will always eventually be unsatisfied, and a unsatisfied customer is very vocal. A company with 0 bad reviews and 500 5-star reviews is suspect. When the bad reviews mention price gouging, be very careful.
For the most common lock services, you should get an exact price. Locksmiths rekey locks, unlock houses, businesses & cars thousands of times a year. We know exactly what it takes and exactly what you will pay. Don’t accept a “plus labor” quote for these types of services and don’t except any varying away from that quoted price once they’ve arrived.
You wake up late. Quickly get yourself together and head to your car, desperately trying to get to work on time. But when you stick the key in the ignition, it won’t turn. Panic sets in.
It happens, and ACME Locksmith spends a lot of time repairing ignitions and other door locks that have been damaged over time. If you’re lucky. Your ignition starts to stick when you turn the key months before it fails. If you bring this car into our Mesa Lock Shop before you can no longer drive it, we can pull the ignition and repin it. Though inconvenient, this is a good thing since we will not have to perform the ignition repair at your location, which can be considerably more expensive.
Ignitions are a little different than residential and commercial locks. They’re composed of wafers that slide into position instead of pins. When one of these wafers is damaged (bent or broken) the key will no longer work the lock. That’s where we can help. ACME Locksmith removes and repairs the exiting locks to get you back on your way.
The picture below shows the wafers from a door lock our Shop Manager, repaired last week. This lock was in really bad shape and had completely stopped turning.
The benefits of using ACME Locksmith’s auto locksmith service?
We can repair what you have to save you money!
We charge much less than the dealer.
We do the work at your location, no need to tow your vehicle.
When your ignition or door locks start to stick, call ACME Locksmith before they stop working.
Do you want your employees to have keys to your business? If an employee leaves your employment on bad terms, how will you know they haven’t made a key to your companies door locks?
For many years, companies have been relying on keys stamped “Do Not Duplicate” or DND. But a DND key no longer offers ANY protection against duplication. Nowadays anyone can make a copy of your business key at any time. Watch this video to see why do no duplicate keys no longer offer any copy protection and to learn how to protect your keys.
This is a “Do not duplicate key.” Now do not duplicate keys have been used for years by business owners and communities in order to protect your keys from being duplicated. The idea was really simple. Take your key to a professional, they see a DND stamp and they know not to make a copy of the key unless the person is authorized.
Well, with the advent of the big box store, a lot of that protection was removed as uneducated, inexperience staff would make copies for just about anyone. However, there was still a level of protection as people who were familiar with DND keys wouldn’t cut the key. However, that has all changed.
Do not duplicate keys now offer you ZERO protection against duplication. Automated machinery can now duplicate keys for the most common keys available. Here I’m at a big box store using one of these automated machines. You can see I’m sliding a do not duplicate key into the machine. They machine accepts the key and makes a copy, never looking at the do not duplicate stamp.
Now your employees, or members of your HOA community, can take your do not duplicate keys into any big box store and make as many copies as they want.
So what’s the solution? Restricted keyways. Restricted keyways are just that. Keys that can only be duplicated by some on that has access to that keyway. Most likely a lock or security professional. To implement a restricted keyway system so unauthorized copies still can’t be duplicated, you just replace the cylinders in some of your existing hardware so they use a different keyway. These keyways aren’t available at the key cutting machines or home clubs so it can’t be copied. When you take that key to a security professional any they see that stamp, they’re not going to duplicate it either unless that person has authorization. That way when you get your key back you know no unauthorized copies have been made and you don’t need to have your business rekeyed to protect yourself because you stay protected.
My company can be a pain. It’s true. But this, my friends, is a good thing.
When you call us for a car unlock or a house unlock, we’ll ask for proof of access rights. Is the title available and in your name? Does the registration match your drivers license? Does your drivers license show the home’s address? Etc…If you don’t have something that confirms you have rights to the property you’re asking us to open, we’ll ask that someone that does be present when we arrive on site. If that can’t be done, there’s more work to do before we let you in….faxes, photo IDs, verification with property records…. as I said, we can be a pain when you’re asking us to unlock your home or car.
Why? Because ACME Locksmith protects your property, whether you’re a customer of ours or not. We won’t unlock a car or a home for just anyone that calls us because they could be….well….anyone. We don’t accept “phone authorizations” because it can be anyone on the phone. We don’t accept email authorizations because anyone could have sent the email. We do this for you, the property owner, to protect your property from someone trying to get into it.
Some times, a potential customer complains about having to provide this information before we will let them in. Sometimes they simply hangup, call someone else, and we lose the business. That’s OK. Because that’s a red flag. We won’t risk your property.
But most of the time customers understand the need. They get it. We’re protecting them. We’re professionals. We’re not just a guy showing up in a t-shirt, shorts, in an unmarked vehicle to make a buck.
And that’s what the other locksmith companies, the ones that will let anyone in without requiring proof of ownership or access rights, aren’t doing for you.