Google Lists a Machine is the Biggest “Locksmith” in the Country

Google Fake Business Listings: A Key Duplication Kiosk Becomes the Top Locksmith

Google is suppose to be smart. They are a high-tech company solving high-tech problems, but once again, they have been beaten by an unscrupulous company. One company, KeyMe has figured out Googles weakness and is exploiting it to their full advantage and the consumer’s detriment.

Google Thinks This Company Has Thousands of Locksmith Shops
Google Thinks This Company Has Thousands of Locksmith Shops

Google thinks every marker on this small map is a locksmith shop. Why? Because they are all listed under the category “locksmith” with a business location shown. But go to one, and you will find they are fake listings. There is no locksmith shop at any of these locations. There is just a key copying machine. There is no locksmith that can program your car key, fix your lock, make a key for your lock, sell you door hardware, duplicate a barrel key, provide high security locks or any of the hundreds of services real locksmith shops perform.

There are over 50 fake locksmith business listings of this one company in the Phoenix market alone. Furthermore, the company states that they will have 10,000 fake locksmith listings (i.e. Kiosks) in the US soon.

Why is This Against Google Policy?

Google, and all phone services search software, triggers off of geography. They figure, if you are searching for a coffee shop, you want a coffee shop that is near your current location. Makes sense right?

So a decade ago or so big scam and fraud companies starting to take advantage of this. They created thousands of fake business listings, all with addresses, in the search engines. The idea was that no matter where you were searching from, you get one of these fake locations at the top of your search, and that is the listing that most people choose to click.

So by listing thousands of fake businesses on Google, they could dominate internet search for practically no expense (i.e. free advertising).

Search engines have since caught on, and prohibit the use of fake addresses. To verify a business Google started mailing post cards with codes to customers. This was suppose to prevent the fake business listings.

Furthermore, Google’s policy now specifically states:

Service-area businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and a designated service area. Service-area businesses can’t list a “virtual” office unless that office is staffed during business hours.

Google also clearly states in their policies in bold print: Never make false, misleading, or unrealistic claims.

KeyMe intentionally and misleadingly violates Googling listing policy in order to dominate Google search results and take business away from local, legitimate, honest locksmith companies (that follow Google guidelines).

I have no idea how KeyMe got around the postcard mailing to verify these addresses as Locksmith locations. The kiosks are within other stores and have no staff on site to receive and verify the address.

Does This Look Like a Locksmith?

Why Fake Google Listings Matter to You

  1. You get a poor consumer experience.
    • When you call a locksmith at a given address, you expect a locksmith at that address. You want a local company to take care of your needs. KeyMe is neither local nor have a locksmith at that address. Though they list 1,000s of local phone numbers, every single one of them goes to an out-of-state dispatch center (unless you happen to be in the state the dispatch center is in).
    • You are a smart shopper, you know that when you take your lock needs into a locksmith shop, you save money. So you take off the lock, get in your car, and drive to your local KeyMe “locksmith.” What you find is you’ve wasted your time and effort because you went to a fake business location. There is no locksmith at any of these thousands of fake business listings.
  2. They take money out of your local community. Money spent in your local community tends to stay in your local community. To support jobs, schools, streets, etc…Every dollar spend out of state, stays out of state.
  3. They’re hurting your local locksmiths. Legitimate locksmiths, that are following Google rules for their business listing, are loosing calls to these fake listings. Google listings are geographical based. When every search shows a KeyMe because that KeyMe is thought to be the closest “locksmith” every call they get is one less call that a real local, rule following locksmith company owner is going to miss.
  4. Will they treat you honestly? For legal reasons I can’t say that they won’t. But I can tell you, they’ve already lied to you by creating the fake business listings! They told you they had a locksmith shop in a location where there is not one. Why would they then suddenly become trustworthy and sincere?

Will Google Fix This Attempt to Trick You?

To Google’s credit, after major news coverage on national and local television shows about the previous fake locksmith listings, Google began efforts to clean up the fake google map locations. They had been making great headway in stopping this sort of behavior.

However, for at least the past three months, I know that this issue has been reported to Google from locksmiths across the county. But nothing has been done.

Suggest an Edit and Change the Classification
KeyMe is certainly a key duplication service, with machines that do just that at every address they list, but they are not a locksmith shop.

Requests to Google to fix the issue have gone ignored.

You can report these fake business locations using one of two methods. Maybe with enough reports, Google will address it.

  • Click on a KeyMe business within Google Maps. Look for the suggest and edit link. Click that link and change the classification to “key duplication.”
  • On a bigger scale, you can report a major issue by filling out the Google Redressal Complaint Form.

Neither has worked thus far, but with enough traction, maybe Google will notice the fake business classification.

Who is KeyMe and Why Are They Now Lying to You?

KeyMe started business as a Phone app. You could take a picture of your key and they would mail you copy. We wrote a security piece on them once. I posed as a jealous boyfriend wanting to make a copy of my girlfriend’s key to get into her house when she wasn’t home. After I told them as much, they were still happy to assist. See what they told me here! Update: I’ve recently learned that KeyMe has stopped making keys from photos and it’s about time!

Do Not Duplicate Keys Will be Copied in Kiosks
KeyMe moved into making key machines. Customers could put a copy of their key into a machine for a quick duplicate. They placed those machines in Fry’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other stores. The machines allow anyone to make a copy of any standard key, even do not duplicate keys (DND). So if you want a copy of your boss/company’s DND key, this machine will make it.

KeyMe now wishes to expand into the locksmith business. And realizing they can manipulate Google’s mapping algorithm have a major advantage to remove local competition.

KeyMe Locksmith Dominates Google with Fake Listings

In the beginning, KeyMe listed their key machines as a “Key Duplication Service” within Google maps. This is allowed. Listing an address with their key machines allowed anyone looking for a key copy to go to the location and get a key copy made. This is legit, and they have nearly 10,000 kiosks across the united states.

But when they changed their strategy and started misrepresenting themselves. They violated Google listing policy by changing all of those key duplication listings to “locksmith” listings.

This is Not a Locksmith Location

So KeyMe, overnight, became the largest locksmith service in the country without having a single locksmith shop by violating Google policies that have been put in place to keep a level playing field.

In Phoenix alone there are over 50 KeyMe Locksmith “Shops.” They show up in Google Maps high on list of any search for a locksmith no matter where you are searching from.

Why has Google allowed this? I don’t know. Their efforts were going well and there is a pretty tight review process now for locksmiths to get a location listed in Google Maps, but KeyMe has found a way to scam Google’s system and Google doesn’t seem to have it as a priority right now.




Disclosure: As an Amazon / Google Associate I may earn from qualifying purchases.

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Understanding Lock Functions

Understanding Lock Functions

How Do Locks Work – Lock Functions: Passage, Entry, Storeroom, Classroom, Privacy

Locks behave differently based on their lock function. Do you want a lock that always locks every time the door closes? There’s a lock function for that. Do you want a lock that cannot be locked from the inside (only the outside) so that you never get locked out of a room? Yep, there’s a lock function for that too. Here are the most common types of lock functions.

What is a Passage Lock

Passage locks are used when doors do not need to be locked. There is no keyhole in a passage lock and no means to lock it. You’ll find these locks on hall closet or bedroom closet doors, pantries, supply rooms, etc…. Their main purpose is simply to prevent a door from swinging open once the door is closed.

Door Lock Functions

What is a Privacy Lock

Privacy locks can be locked from the inside to lock a room, but privacy locks do not require a key to unlock them from the outside.

Instead of a key, there is usually a simply tool that unlocks the lock. In homes, you see these most commonly installed on bedrooms and bathrooms.

In businesses, like retail clothing stores, you typically see them on dressing room doors. Just like the name implies, the offer privacy to the user but they are easily bypassed in case someone needs to get in for an emergency.

To lock a privacy set there is usually a thumb turn or a push button/turn. Some privacy locks installed in bathrooms on commercial buildings have an indicator to show the locked or unlocked status of the bathroom.

What are Storeroom Locks

Storeroom Locks are used when the outside lever needs to be locked at all times.

They require a key to unlock and open the door. There is no means to lock/unlock the door from the inside as it is always locked as soon as the door is closed. From the inside of the room, they can always be freely opened to exit the room.

You see these a lot in businesses when a business wants a commercial self locking door lock. Storeroom function locks can be used to secure storage rooms, mechanical rooms, and electrical rooms, for example (rooms that you want to restrict access to but don’t want anyone ever accidentally getting locked in).

When a storeroom lock is used there is often a door closer installed on the door to insure the door will not be left open and unsecured. The door closer automatically closes the door so that the room remains locked.

Some residential locks can be set so that they act like a storeroom function self locking lock. Typically by twisting the button on the inside of the lock while you push it in to lock the door. Many homeowners don’t realize this and we have had to unlock many homes because the door lock was accidentally put into it’s storeroom function.

What are Entry Locks / Entry Levers

Entry locks are controlled by a key in the outside cylinder and by a thumbturn, key or push button/turn on the inside. The use of the thumbturn/button provides the ability to lock the door or keep the door unlocked so a key is not required to enter for convenience to the user.

This type of lock should be used where unauthorized access is not a concern most of the time – like an office, home or storage closet door that you don’t want to be locked at all times.

What are Classroom Function Locks

Classroom locks are special locks that are controlled by a key on the outside of the door, just like an entry lock. However, the key can be used to set the lock up so that it will stay locked our unlocked. On the inside of the door, There is no method of locking or unlocking the door lock.

This function was originally designed for schools, to prevent students from tampering with the locks (i.e. locking everyone out of the classroom), but most new schools use classroom security locks (see below). A classroom function lock might also be used for a common office corridor or suite entry, where key control of the lock is needed, and a thumbturn or push button/turn is not desired.

Classroom Security Lock Function

Classroom Security Function Lock

Classroom Security Locks allow control of the outside lever via a typical key cylinder on BOTH sides of the door.

A teacher can lock her classroom door during a lock-down event without ever opening the door and possibly being exposed to an intruder in the corridor. In some areas these types of locks are required by law for school classrooms.

From inside the classroom, anyone can leave the room at any time, the key on the inside of the room only locks the external side of the lever. It is typically
keyed so that all of the inside cylinders on classroom doors are operated by the same key, or are operated by any key in the school’s master-key system.





Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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Arizona Swimming Pool Code & Lock Requirements

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When Should a Business Rekey Their Building?

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How to Check Crime Rate Before Buying a Home?

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