Where do I begin? Let's start with a big thank you to David Segal who recently published a news story in the New York Times called "Picking the Lock of Google's Search". In this well written article he eloquently converges the issue of locksmith scammers, Google's search engine credibility as well as the Yellow Pages "gaming" activities.
Secondly, a huge thank you needs to be given to Society of Professional Locksmith (SOPL) member Mike Bronzell from Chicago IL., owner of All Hour Locksmiths who is a tenacious consumer advocate. He first uncovered the scam in its early stages and was the driving force in alerting the locksmith industry, attorney generals and national news media. Mike suffered a lot of harassment, including a frivolous federal lawsuit intended to intimidate him into silence, but Mike eventually was dismissed from the lawsuit by a Federal Judge. To this day, Mike asserts that these activities are possibly criminal in nature and organized from a central source, even though it appears to be many independent operations.
Where better then the NY Times to publish such a story! It is located in the media capitol of the world and not far from the origins of a few of the busted scammers. The NY Times carries a lot of weight in its ability to be heard, but I have to say...what took so long? This "gaming" manipulation is not new and several other service industry's have also been victimized before...so again what took so long when other local news sources across the country were conducting stings.
The fact is that the consumers were being taken advantage of by non documented foreign nationals "posing" as locksmiths who are directly linked to Google's Search. There is some strange belief by the locksmiths that they need these advertising resources to survive in the marketplace. As much as I would disagree with that idea, I will concede that Smart Phones and web access cell phones are everywhere and is making the Internet the new battle ground which makes Google a hot issue.
The SOPL was the first to advocate for a class action lawsuit and to provide a variety of Internet Radio broadcasts and interviews about the issue as far back as 2006. Gaming has been going on as far as I can remember and nobody cared or would do anything. So this is all old news to the locksmith industry but finally the New York Times has pulled the trigger. Connecting the dots to bring this gaming to an end now only needs a good Attorney to bring a class action lawsuit. So where is he or she? Please step forward.
The only person I have seen trying to knock on the door of Google and Super Media etc. is a guy called "Locksmith Charley" or Charles Herbert Eastwood. Although he may be spinning his wheels and possibly be eccentric....he is at least doing something in Maricopa County, Arizona where an injunction has been won. But then again Maricopa County has a reputation for eccentric Sheriffs too! The point is, who is going to file the class action lawsuits to support locksmiths like Bob Strom owner of Ballard Lock & Key from the gaming and identity theft which has occurred?
Recently there was a second effort to pass a locksmith licensing regulation in New York and many locksmiths were never consulted. This bill failed to pass because the NY Assembly learned of the true issues regarding these scammers and it had nothing to do with needing to regulate the hard working locksmiths who are honest. I only hope the presentation of Mr. Segal's article is not intended to create the same hysteria and misinformation that has been done elsewhere to try and steer another wasteful and misguided piece of legislation into the NY Assembly which will harm the locksmiths even further. I believe the article is intended to demonstrate the fact that Google and the Yellow Pages are not the trusted resources the consumers believe.
So what is the secret weapon? Click Here to read an earlier blog entry made on 12/10/10. The locksmiths secret weapon is to create their own secure network or lead generator for other trusted locksmiths. It is that simple. The 1-800-UNLOCKS is unique since it directs calls from the consumer directly to their local locksmith that have already been vetted and for the most part are known among each other. Yes, I know this all sounds like I am advertisement for them...but it is more of an observation so please listen...you will understand.
The one thing we all can agree upon is that those who appear to have mastered the gaming of Google are pretty smart and I am sure there is envy in many locksmith's eyes, because if they could get themselves in those search positions they would! So as Bob Sieveking once said...they are eating our lunch! So what are you going to do about it? I say emulate it! If you can't beat em', join em' but do it better and ethically by utilizing the 1-800-UNLOCKS network and create your own lead generation without any nonsense in gaming any systems.
For the first time in a long time locksmiths like Bob Strom can fight back. In a collective manner, locksmiths participating in the 1-800-UNLOCKS system can ensure the consumer is not victimized. Locksmiths own their territory and the bigger the overall network grows the better the organic web search results become. As I see it when you get a call you have generated, you have two options....cover it yourself or refer it. 1-800-UNLOCKS is not a scammer operation. Period.
I have personally taken on a territory in NY after realizing this is the secret weapon to combat these issues. Other professionals are also participating to creating a chain in the NY/NJ metro area which will create such an environment. As the network expands, territories will connect filling gaps and creating greater "lead gen" referrals from network providers while squeezing out those undocumented foreign nationals posing as locksmiths. I strongly suggest other locksmiths do the same and beat em' at their own game or gaming!
Additional News Media Resource CLICK HERE
Tom Lynch, CRL