Hey readers. I know it’s been a while. Things have been a little crazy since this site was last updated. But I won’t bore you with the details of all that…

I recently had a really messed-up experience with a car locksmith when I was cruisin’ through Charlotte and thought I’d tell you about it since it’s somewhat relevant to the whole car theme of this website. And if you’re a car enthusiast like me, chances are you’ve had to or will have to hire an auto locksmith in the near future. I definitely don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did.

If you’re ever in a jam and need a locksmith to bail you out, here are some things to look for before you hire the first guy that pops up in Google.

Criteria #1: They aren’t #1 in Google. Or if they are, make sure they are reputable. There are so many scammers and online spammers out there – not real locksmiths, just web experts pretending to be so they can scam you out of your hard-earned money. But perhaps I should back up a minute…

The story is, I locked my keys in my car at a gas station right off of Interstate 85 in Charlotte NC a few weekends ago, so I called a nearby locksmith. I figured the #1 result on the web in my phone meant that they were the real deal, right? I was dead wrong. They quoted me an outrageous price to unlock my car (like over $300). But I was in a bind and didn’t know any better, so I said “c’mon out and help me.” When they got there, they damaged my car door and locks, which I still need to have repaired, and they didn’t have insurance so my carrier is gonna have to cover it, which means my rates are likely going up. To top it all off, he charged me a $50 “convenience” fee because he said I was 10 miles outside his normal distance range for service. Yet they showed up #1 in Google’s organic and local map results, with location services turned on on my phone.

Bottom line… do some digging before you hire the first guy that pops up in the search results. I’ve done some research since and realized the locksmith industry is rife with scammers.

Criteria #2: They are licensed, bonded and insured. I already told you how my rates are going up cause my guy wasn’t insured. He also wasn’t licensed. At the time I didn’t even know how to check for that, but now I do. Find your local state’s locksmith licensing board website, ask the guy for his license number, and make sure he shows up when you do a search on the board site. It’s worth the few extra minutes you’ll spend – trust me.

Also, when make sure they are bonded and insured in case they do damage to your car. But they shouldn’t if they are experienced, certified and know what the hell they’re doing.

Criteria #3: They’re professional and reliable. The dude I called who came out to assist me with my car lockout situation was a buffoon. But like I said, I was desperate to get back on the road, and he said he could make that happen. It took him over an hour to get to me, even though he said he’d be there in 20 minutes. And then he messes up my car and doesn’t have insurance to fix it. A reliable locksmith will show up on time and have a nice, professional attitude. This guy was completely unreliable and unprofessional.

Lastly, I’ll just go ahead and throw in my recommendation for a locksmith in Charlotte if you’re ever looking for one. Mike McElveen over at Car Keys is a licensed, bonded, insured, professional, reliable auto locksmith who can make keys for just about any car make and model. If you locked your keys in your car, he can also get you out. I called around after my fiasco and decided to do my due diligence in case I ever end up in this situation again. He quoted me the most reasonable price, by far, of any other locksmith. He was very nice over the phone. He had great reviews online, and even though he didn’t show up as #1 in the search results, he was on the first page of Google for my query, and in my opinion, he deserves to be at the top. Do yourself, and him, a favor, and help him get there by hiring him when you need a locksmith and leaving him a stellar review.