Huffpost New York

Locksmith Horror Stories: Has This Happened To You?

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It's safe to say that most, if not all, of us at some point have locked ourselves out of our apartment, house, dorm, or room. It's never a good feeling -- shame, exhaustion, anger -- that wells up in you. And the scenario could go many ways: your landlord lets you in, you break into your own place using the weak spot in the window you've been meaning to fix or you call a locksmith.

For blogger Caroline, the latter wasn't the save she was hoping for. On her blog, No Great Illusion, she recounts her own harrowing experience at being locked out. After getting home at 2am, she couldn't open her apartment door with her set of keys (a problem she'd encountered before) so she called a locksmith.

When he came back, ten minutes later, he presented me with a hand-written, itemized bill of $613. I told him it seemed exorbitant. He told me his credit card machine wasn't working. I told him I didn't have that kind of cash in my home. He offered to give me a ride in his unmarked vehicle to the nearest ATM. I told him I didn't get into cars with strangers. I made a phone call to someone I trusted, who agreed with me about the ridiculous price and the sketchy situation. I asked him to send me a bill. He said they don't do that.

The two of them tussled over the bill some more, and the locksmith threatened to call the cops.

I allowed him to do so, remaining calm, terrified, and on the phone. The locksmith called 911. Police arrived and the locksmith met them outside to give his side of the story. I came to the outside door and the officer told me to pay the man. I said "But - " and the officer interrupted me. "Pay the man now or you're under arrest." I explained what was happening on the phone, trying to stay calm. The officer told me I had to hang up or he would arrest me. I hung up. He asked me why I had called the locksmith, if I couldn't pay him. I said I assumed he could send me a bill. The officers looked at me like I was crazy. I told the officer I would defer to his judgment. I asked him to give me a ride to the bank, as it was 2 AM in Brooklyn and I was already shaking. He said "No. You can walk your ass there." 

It sounds awful, perhaps even far-fetched, but if true it's not very reassuring anecdote about what could so easily happen if you misplace your keys. And like so many city services -- cable, plumbing, carpet cleaners -- without them we are utterly helpless (unless you buy a carpet cleaner you found on an infomercial at 4AM on Comedy Central). But does that really warrant the exorbitant prices of our city's experts?

What was your locked-out experience? Easier, same, or worse?