Where do you go to find locksmiths? Chances are, you’ll go to Google and search for a locksmith during an emergency situation. However, you may want to call your friend first for a recommendation before you use Google.
According to this article from New York Times, Google search results are manipulated by fake locksmithing services to scam a customer into paying exorbitant fees. Not all people know it, but many of those locksmiths that are on top of the Google search results are actually lead generator companies.
These companies know how to trick SEO to rank high in the search results. They can also manipulate Google Maps so their services will appear as a legitimate storefront.
Unfortunately, they don’t have a brick and mortar store. Instead, they have a group of untrained subcontractors who will only get as much money from you as possible. Most of these contractors are from Israel. These people came to the US because they were lured to have a steady work here.
What are lead generators?
They operate using a tactic known as bait-and-switch. Once you call a lead gen listing, your contact details are collected. They’ll be forwarded to subcontractors who’ll go to your home or car.
When they arrive, they’ll give you a lower price that balloons to a higher fee because of an unexpected obstacle making the procedure harder to perform.
Unfortunately, their customers pay out of frustration, or they simply want to get in their house or car as soon as possible. Some customers, however, don’t realize that they’re paying a high fee because they haven’t tried a locksmith service before.
These lead generators started to pop up in the early 2000s. Their business flourished because of Google. Because of the many people they’ve scammed, they’ve managed to put up a fake shop to a great and midsize city in the US.
Google is working hard to remove the operations of these scammers. Unfortunately, these operators are one step ahead of Google. They know how the system works. Because of that, they can easily fly under the tech giant’s radar.
The worse thing is that those legitimate locksmith services are paying the price. Their listings are grouped along with these fake services. As a result, customers find it difficult to call a qualified service.
That said, if you don’t want to become a victim of these scammers, you should call your friends or family first.