DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today his office has reached a settlement with an Englewood locksmith company after an investigation revealed it had routinely misrepresented the costs of its services to consumers.
Under the settlement, Basad, Inc., and its owners Peleg Forman, Batia Forman and Michael Biton, will pay $100,000. The money will be used to reimburse consumers who complained of paying Basad, Inc., charges that were not disclosed to consumers when they called and requested locksmith services.
“Consumers deserve a reasonable estimate of any services they request from a locksmith or other company,” Suthers said. “This settlement should send a message that companies that routinely mislead Colorado consumers should understand we do not tolerate deceptive business practices.”
The Attorney General filed a lawsuit in January 2009 alleging that Basad, while disclosing their “$55 service charge” for a car lockout, failed to alert consumers of additional charges that often exceeded the service charge. Consumers complained of receiving an initial estimate of $55 but were charged $110 or more after the locksmith opened their cars. Consumers also complained that Basad failed to honor their advertisement of a “20-minute response time,” leaving consumers waiting for several hours in some instances.
Under the settlement, Basad will be required to disclose to consumers during the initial sales call that there will be additional charges, such as labor or lockout fees, in addition to its service call fee. Basad also will be prohibited from representing in advertisements any specific response time. The settlement also requires Basad to record all phone calls between consumers and the dispatchers in its Englewood office for a full year. The recordings will allow the Office of the Attorney General to ensure it is complying with the settlement.
During the investigation, the Office of the Attorney General learned that Basad Inc., advertises its locksmith services using numerous doing business as “dba(s),” including A 24 7 Locksmith and Ocean Locksmith. Full-page yellow page advertisements for separately named companies all ring to the same Englewood office. Under the settlement, Basad must disclose that these dba(s) are the same company so as to not mislead consumers into thinking that they are telephoning competing businesses for quotes.
The Office of the Attorney General recommends consumers consider the following when contacting a locksmith for car lockout services:
- Demand to know what the locksmith actually charges before he or she is dispatched. Reputable locksmiths will provide an estimate once they know the year, make and model of your vehicle. Be wary of any claims by the locksmith that they cannot determine the cost until they have inspected the vehicle.
- Call at least three locksmiths and compare quotes before deciding which to hire.
- Demand to know the location of the locksmith so that you can estimate how long it will take for the locksmith to arrive.
- Research and chose your locksmith before an emergency arises.
- Do not assume that company with the largest yellow page advertisement will offer the best rate.
- Colorado does not require locksmiths to be licensed or registered. Disregard any claims by Colorado locksmiths that they are licensed.