Omaha woman charged $400 for locksmith on freezing cold day
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Many of us have experienced a sudden feeling of panic after realizing the keys are locked in the car. That happened to an Omaha woman who found the real shock was yet to come.
A trip to the library last month didn’t go by the book for Barb Siebrandt.
“I think I said something I shouldn’t have, and I realized I left my keys and extra keys in my purse which I left in the car,” Siebrandt said.
There were freezing temperatures that day on 90th and Fort streets, so Barb needed help fast.
She searched on her phone for a locksmith and got a phone number.
She dialed which prompted a text from a toll-free number that may belong to a locksmith broker. Then a local crew is dispatched to open Barb’s door and hand her a bill
“He said it will be $400 and I said ‘are you kidding me,’ and he said it was because it was very bitter cold out and it took us so long to get it open.”
Barb says she withdrew the money from her bank down the street while the locksmith waited outside. That’s among the signs she regrets not seeing.
“Not a marked car, not an official receipt and wanting to take cash.”
The Better Business Bureau locked in on Barb’s receipt. Jim Hegarty with the BBB said it was a strange situation.
“Yes, it’s unusual that the company’s marks would not be on the invoices and the name of the company wouldn’t be clearly disclosed,” he said.
Someone who appears to be a locksmith broker with a Las Vegas number declined to give his company name. 6 News asked for comment on the situation with Barb.
He texted that the crew spent two hours working in subzero wind chills and claims the price was agreed on by Barb and the two locksmiths, which she disputes.
“I felt uncomfortable and felt I had gotten myself into something,” Barb said.
Barb says a device was used to open her door, and Tony Siders of Big Red Locksmiths shares how it works. He says it leaves a chance to damage the vehicle.
“On a cold day, all this stuff isn’t going to go back to normal,” Siders said. “It could possibly bend or damage this door.”
Siders prefers his crews use a more delicate approach to opening most car doors and he says they have never charged $400.
“I would tell you if you paid $100 on darn near every vehicle on the road out there, it would be too much.”
Left with a generic receipt insurance won’t accept, Barb says she’s learned that to save money on locksmith calls she holds the keys.
“I’m not going to put them in my purse and leave my purse in the car,” she said.
6 News made several calls to the same toll-free number on the text the customer received. We got a response from a different locksmith company each time. None admitted they were the ones who charged the $400 fee.
Barb has since filed a police report.
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