BALTIMORE (April 7, 2010)—Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced Wednesday that his Consumer Protection Division has issued a Cease and Desist Order against a Maryland locksmith, ATCL-MD, Inc., doing business as Around the Clock Locksmith and its owner Joseph M. Horton. The Consumer Protection Division has charged Around the Clock Locksmith and Horton with billing consumers exorbitant fees, such as more than $4,300 to replace a lock and deadbolt, and fees as high as $1,400 simply to respond to a consumers request for locksmith services. According to the Divisions Statement of Charges, Around the Clock Locksmith refuses to give consumers an estimate of its fees or provides extremely low estimates. When consumers balked at paying the undisclosed fees, the company allegedly charged the consumers credit card without prior authorization.
In addition to overcharging consumers, Around The Clock Locksmith and the companys owner, Joseph Horton, are accused of falsely using a competitors name to steal the competitors customers and misrepresenting that the company is a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau. The Consumer Protection Division ordered the company and Horton to immediately cease and desist from engaging in these and other unfair or deceptive trade practices. A hearing is scheduled for June 28, 2010, after which the Division will determine the amount of any restitution, penalties and costs that Around the Clock Locksmith and its owner must pay.
You cant provide a low estimate to get your foot in the door and then charge multiples of that estimate to perform the service, said Attorney General Gansler. The Order requires the company to provide realistic estimates and to stick by them.
Consumers should always ask for price estimates before requesting any service and be wary of companies that will not provide estimates. Consumers may contact the Consumer Protection Division to find out if there have been complaints filed against a business by other consumers. For more information, consumers may call the Consumer Protection hotline at 410-528-8662 or 1-888-743-0023 toll-free.
Source: Office of Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler