I hear many of the same questions from my customers regarding lock services. It is not always possible to answer their questions in full while working on a lock though, so I will attempt to answer the four most frequently asked ones here.
Perhaps the most commonly asked question I hear is: Do you have to go to school to become a locksmith? In Ontario one is not required to go to school to become a locksmith. In some other provinces (e.g. Alberta) and in every U.S. state however, one is required to do go to school and undertake an apprenticeship before one can obtain a certificate of qualification in locksmithing. That said, most (if not all) lock shops in Ontario will not consider job applicants who do not have a diploma in locksmithing. One can earn a diploma in locksmithing at an accredited brick-and-mortar school like the The Academy of Locksmithing in Scarborough; or at an accredited on-line school like Ashworth College, Stratford Career Institute, or the International Career School of Canada. None of these schools however, offer apprenticeship programs. But a diploma from one of them will undoubtedly help a would-be locksmith get his or her foot in the door.
Another commonly asked question I hear is: Where are you located? Though my company appears on the Google map for Hamilton locksmiths, I do not have a store front. Like most locksmiths, I offer a mobile service almost exclusively. On occasion customers will stop by my home to have a lock rekeyed or a key cut, but they do this by appointment only. Some out-of-town locksmiths – and there are many – rent post office boxes in order to trick Google into thinking that they have a shop or home in the local area. Many unsuspecting people have driven to their neighbourhood locksmith “shop” only to find that it is a Shoppers’ Drugmart, a UPS Store, or a Pharmasave. Do not let this happen to you – always call first.
Many of my customers also like to ask: Why do you charge a service fee? All tradesmen, whether it be a roofer, painter, or plumber, that are called out by a home or business owner to provide a service, charge a call-out or trip fee. This fee covers their vehicle insurance and maintenance costs, fuel, and travel time. In my case, this rate is fixed and limited to one per job. In other words, whether a customer is around the corner or in the next town, I charge the same call-out fee; which I always make them aware of before setting out. Also, I only charge one trip fee per job. So whether a job takes one trip or three trips to complete, my customers are only invoiced for one service call.
Finally, every now and again a customer will ask: Do you charge less to open simple locks? Yes, strictly speaking my rates vary depending on the lock that needs to be opened. For example, a safe lockout might cost as much as $750, whereas a student room lockout will cost as little as $60. When it comes to residential key-in-knobs and deadbolts however, I charge the same flat fee. Both of the types of locks almost always have five pins, and therefore require the same tools, expertise, and time to pick.