‘Rogue’ locksmith company faces £1,600 bill paid by desperate OAP

A locksmith accused of defrauding a pensioner after charging her £1,600 to get her into her home has defended the eye-watering bill.

Bosses at Trust 24/7 Locksmith say they are “sticking to the price” for the job at Jayne Marney’s home in Ashford – despite three other companies later quoting as little as £285 for the same work.

Jayne Marney, 68, from Ashford, believes she was scammed out of £1,600 by a rogue locksmith

KentOnline revealed last month how the 68-year-old, who was locked out of the property, embezzled the money – but at the time the company did not respond when challenged over the huge bill.

However, it has now attempted to justify the costs, which it said were “based on the specific circumstances of the situation”.

But a furious Ms Marney, who has since rejected three partial refund offers, remains determined to see the company return all her money.

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“They keep their prices, but they are just scammers,” she said.

“I think they’re just offering me a partial refund so I’ll leave. They think they can intimidate people by being quiet and going away, but that doesn’t work for me.”

Jayne Marney has since had the lock replaced after being unhappy with the original work, pictured

Ms Marney’s ordeal began when she returned home from a dog walk at around 9pm on April 9.

Several attempts to unlock the front door failed, so in desperation she called an emergency locksmith, who arrived within 10 minutes.

Ms Marney says he did not put her key in the door until she insisted and made no attempt to pick the lock – measures other professionals say are standard.

She says he instead told her the mechanism – the internal part that locks the door – needed to be replaced, but said he could not charge her until it was removed.

“It was dark and cold outside and we had no access to the house,” Ms Marney said.

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“Feeling like I had no other choice, I told him to move on.”

Ms Marney said the man started by drilling out what he described as “a very expensive and very secure lock”, and completed the job within 20 minutes.

He then asked for payment of £1,599.60, handing Ms Marney a card reader so she could pay the bill.

“When I said it was a little more expensive than I thought, he just shook his head and said that was the going rate,” she recalls.

The bill included £585 for a mechanism that another locksmith said had not been installed

Mrs Marney paid the invoice, which broke down the cost of the job, showing that she had been charged £89 for the call, £150 labour, £369 for “door opening”, £140 for a cylinder lock and £585 for a new mechanism.

Feeling she had been ripped off, she requested three quotes from other locksmiths for the same job, with the highest paying €285.

One – Alan Hocknell from All Locked Out in Tenterden – even came to her home to replace the lock free of charge, writing that the mechanism had not been replaced by the original locksmith.

Another – Rob Mitchell of Lockrite Locksmiths from Ashford – told KentOnline that the average cylinder lock costs no more than £60, while a mechanism typically costs between £50 and £100.

“There is no way he could have installed a new mechanism if he was only there for 20 minutes,” he added.

“I would take one to two hours to get that job done right.”

While the call was made through Trust 24/7 Locksmith, the invoice provided to Ms Marney included the name of London-based construction company Fixtoon Ltd.

After failing to respond to KentOnline before publication, the company has since said it has “thoroughly investigated” Ms Marney’s concerns.

“First and foremost, we take all customer complaints seriously and strive to ensure that our services meet the highest standards of quality and professionalism. We regret the dissatisfaction experienced by the resident involved in this incident,” a spokesperson said.

“In response to the complaint, we have already made extensive efforts to address the situation in good faith. We offered a partial refund as a gesture of goodwill, but unfortunately the customer declined our offer. Despite our efforts to reach a satisfactory resolution, it appears that the customer remains dissatisfied.

One of the reviews for the company. Image: Screenshot of Trust Pilot

“Regarding the pricing issue raised in your research, we understand the importance of transparency and fairness in pricing.

“However, the cost of locksmith services can vary based on several factors, including the complexity of the job, service time and materials required. We stand by our technician’s pricing, which was determined based on the specifics of the situation.

“Finally, we would like to emphasize that we have taken this matter seriously and have done everything we can to address the concerns raised by the customer. We remain committed to providing excellent service to all our customers, while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and integrity.”

Mrs Marney says the original refund offer was £300, but she rejected this as it would have only reduced her bill to £1,300.

Eight days later she says she was then offered a 30% refund, and then in a follow-up email £585 to cover the cost of the mechanism, which she again rejected.

“The quotes I received from three other locksmiths were no more than €285 and that was for the complete work, including replacing the mechanism, which [Trust 24/7 Locksmith] hasn’t changed,” she said.

“It’s all ridiculous and I don’t accept what they have offered me. I want a full refund.”

KentOnline asked Fixtoon for clarification as to whether the mechanism had been changed, but there was no response.

However, correspondence with Ms Marney stated that the locksmith “confirmed the replacement of the gearbox, a crucial part of the mechanism”.

While Trust 24/7 Locksmith assures on its website: “No hidden costs! We will keep you informed of all expenses,” customers have shared similar bad experiences with the company on consumer review website Trustpilot.

One said they had to pay more than £700 to drill and replace a lock, adding: “They exploit you at a vulnerable moment and then disappear. Do not use this company.”

Ms Marney reported the company to Kent County Council’s Trading Standards, which previously told Kent Online not to release information about individuals or companies.

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