So, it has been a while now that I’ve been a locksmith in Paris and to be honest I’ve seen it all. From the fake locksmith pretending to know it all to the little piece of shit asking for 3000€ just to open a simple unlocked door. This is very common and unlike many countries our government does not give a shit. So everybody does whatever it wants and in this article I’ll try to warn you, artless foreigner.
Be aware that once you cross the border you step in a country where the bad and evil is somehow allowed to proliferate. Here the cheater can openly play the game and look you in the eye and tell you that, yes, he cheats, he knows you know but somehow he will still win and you will still lose.
So where to start ? This is a tough one for me, I have so many things I want to share, so many ways you
will can get screwed that is it actually pretty hard to not get lost but there are a few things that are important and that will keep you out of trouble. I’ll call them rules, so these rules you shall follow.
Rule number one
Keep calm. Yes you are a foreigner, yes your door is closed, even maybe locked, you probably lost your key and you are going to spend a few hundred bucks to get you out of trouble. Accept it, keep calm, think smart. You are not in the middle of nowhere and there are artisans that are whiling to help you for a fair price. Your number one mission is to find this artisan.
Rule number two
Do never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever use Internet (search engines) to try to find a locksmith. This is simple. I won’t go into many details but know this. To be visible on search engines (top 3 or top 4), you have to pay, big bucks. A simple click on Google search engines can cost up to 40€ for a locksmith. Knowing that you’ll get one client per 10 clicks, a locksmith that advertises on Google can pay up to 400€ just to get a client. Be sure, 100% sure that if these fuckers pay 400 bucks to get you as a client, they will not charge you less than 2 grand for whatever they come and do for you. Searching on the Internet is very dangerous. Of course there is Google Maps that will show you all the locksmith around you and probably many with good reviews but remember… you stepped in a country where lying is OK. You can put fake comments and get away with it. Heck, these guys have been sentenced dozens of times but close companies, open them up with other names and keep doing their shit all over again and again. You just cannot trust Internet.
Rule number three
Ask questions. It’s free. I enjoy answering them to my clients, I can spend half an hour explaining what I’ll do to open your door, for free, sometimes people don’t call me back, but I am an artisan, and I am here to put my art at your service. Answering questions, even in English is NO PROBLEMO (got the joke ?). You can feel when someone is bullshitting you, ask as many questions as you can as for pricing, time, what is included, quote, what if he has to break something, is replacement included… let your imagination (and craziness) express themselves.
Rule number four
Know your rights. Here in France, for any services above or equal to 150€ the company MUST give you a quote. It should be free (I give free quotes). The quote must include the company name, address, number, service they are going to provide, time that is going to be spent and the price with and without taxes. This is a must. It will protect you in case the guy changes his mind and tells you its double the price. And that is rule number five.
Rule number five
Only pay what you have signed for. Does not matter if it screams, begs, strips (evil laugh)… if you did not sign anything saying you have to pay for that than don’t pay for that.
Things you must know
Thing you must know number one
There are two common types of interventions that are provided by locksmith. Either your door is locked or your door is just shut. Locked means that you used your key and turned it at least once to lock your door. Shut means you just pushed your door and it’s closed but you have no key, or handle to open it.
Thing you must know number two
A shut door is always opened without breaking anything. If your door is just shut (no key was used to lock the door) than the locksmith can open it without breaking anything. 100% of the time. Again, 100% of the time. Your door can be a super high security top-level army shit door still, if it is just shut, than it is going to be opened without breaking anything. The first lie these rats will try to feed you is that your door is so special that even if it is not locked they must break something.
There is ONE scenario that exists, still no breaking is involved and that is if you have a double door. Double doors usually have what we call a « plat de battement » a piece of metal between the two doors that with block our tools to open your door without breaking anything. If you have a double door than it is allowed to make a small little hole (6mm to 8mm hole) to reach for the handle inside. Still, nothing will be broken and the hole will be filled. Cool huh ?
Thing you must know number three
Pricing. Its expensive, here minimum wage goes around 9€ an hour. A locksmith is pretty well paid, around 14 bucks an hour. Understand that taxes double the price of salaries. So an hour can cost around 30€ to a company. Knowing that most of the companies count for an hour on site, and they usually count half an hour to come to you and half an hour to go back to the shop, 2 hours are counted for the interventions. So the locksmith actually costs around 60€ to the company. Knowing that he is most likely going to use his car and park it… use gas, pay insurance, the moving fee is around 50€ here. At least in Paris.
You also have to understand that prices are tax included here in France so 10% of the price they tell you is actually for the government.
Opening a shut door: around 150€ (less if the locksmith is next to you and no moving fees are added) I’m at 145€, but I am not shocked at a locksmith asking for 180€.
Opening a shut door at night or WE: double is normal, if you are cool and I did not spend an hour, I stay at 145€, but I am not shocked if a locksmith asks for 250€. (above is not so cool)
Opening a closed door: around 250€. I’m at 240€ But even for 300€ its cool. You got to understand that we are going to use tools that actually cost a lot of money, disks, end mills and spend more time.
Opening a closed door at night or WE: Should be double, I don’t usually charge for more. 240€ is a lot of money already. Sometimes if I know the lock is going to be time-consuming than I’ll go up a bit. But it is actually very rare.
Thing you must know number four
If your door is locked (meaning closed with a key) something has to be broken for the door to be opened. Simple logic, you have no key, we will attempt to break the key hole without damaging the lock so we can turn it with a tool and open the door. The key cylinder (the thing you put your key in) MUST be changed afterwards. Meaning that you will pay extra for it to be replaced.
Here in France we have pretty cool locks with metal protectors that must be cut-off sometimes, they will be replaced too. You are not obliged to do so but you won’t be able to use your key or even close your door or come in and out as you wish. Now when the locksmith gives you a quote it’s only for opening the door. You can and MUST ask him a quote for the replacement in case something has to be broken. The replacement quote has to include the price of the key cylinder (best-case scenario) and the price of the whole lock (worst-case scenario).
Insurances (home insurance)
Here almost ALL home insurance do NOT cover mistakes. You lost your key ? You broke your key ? Someone stole your key ? Your lock does not work ? Its for your pocket. The only way your house insurance will pay for it is if someone broke into your house (even attempts are not covered).
If somehow your insurance covers, then it is ONLY for similar products. No modifications have to be made. If you upgrade something, they won’t pay.
Insurances (Visa Card Insurance)
Visa can offer to cover lost or stolen keys interventions. You may not be aware of it but lots of banks working with the VISA brand have an insurance (most likely included in your contract). This insurance covers the loss of keys or the theft of keys. To my knowledge it is only up to 500€. Not much, but still something. Never trust a locksmith that will tell you that you’re covered. Call your bank, and see for yourself.
To find a good locksmith I suggest you ask around. We call it « bouche à oreille » (mouth to ear) is the best way to find a good locksmith. Recommendation from someone you trust is always best (after me). There are good artisans willing to do good work and searching for clients. Honest people, not cheap but just. Now if you are in the Paris area and you came across this article I’ll be glad to help. Ask me as many questions as you wish it’s over here https://www.hangist.fr