As product quality goes down and prices go up, many good locksmiths are seeking alternative products that offer greater value and durability for their customers. Major American brand names from what has become known as the "mega manufacturers" have continued to promote inferior products while at the same time increasing their prices to a point of gross extremes. These products are being made with cheaper parts and barely can be identified as a security device in the eyes of the professional locksmith. With escalating costs that leave the locksmiths scratching their heads and consumers being taken to the cleaners (ripped off), the professional locksmiths are abandoning these brands and recommending value engineered alternatives.
We see several of these products in the mega home centers and the consumers are often bamboozled into believing these are adequate devices to protect themselves, their belongings, and their loved ones. In many instances these products under examination are clearly "cheapened" or demonstrate the intentional obsolescence design alterations which will limit their longevity and force an upward sale a short time later.
In comparison we see smaller "indie" (independent) start-up companies and imported brands or off-shore private labeled brands with higher quality and lower prices. The durability of these products are exceeding those of the mega manufactures who present themselves as dominate industry players. It is well known that they too are importing their products so why are their products failing so often? It is known as Designed Obsolescence, which means it is intentionally being done by the manufacturers to force the consumer to repurchase. It is also part of a growing pattern with security hardware products manufacturers who are trying to force upon the locksmiths and the consumers their new product designs like electronic locks, or web-enabled devices.
Some of these products sound good, but lack the quality expected by the security professionals who work with them. Very often they are dumped into the market and they become part of a form of research & development which leaves the locksmith scrambling to resolve issues, losing money in repeat call backs. All the while the consumer thinks it is the locksmiths fault, when in fact it is the designed obsolescence of the product by the manufacture.
I encountered an interesting argument with one mega manufacturer's Product Trainer who was found advocating for locksmith licensing while conducting an educational seminar on his company's product. When I pointed that trying to use a product seminar to pimp failed and harmful licensing was inappropriate and ignorant, his response was this - "How else are we to force the locksmith to learn about new products!"
If a product addresses a solution, meets the desire of the consumers, or is durable and cost effective, then it will become sought after. Those who fail to educate themselves won't last in the free market. That is how things work. Trying to re-engineer or social engineer how winners and losers are made by trying to "force" a result by design (licensing) is not much different than cheating the consumers by designed obsolescence!
HARD-ware is the business most professional locksmiths are in, and although consumers often gravitate to the cheapest or lowest price, it does not mean they want something that is inferior and is designed to fail. If this is how the mega manufacturers wish to continue, then alternative brand products will continue to be the best choice for the locksmith and the better value for the consumers.
The following video is long but very informative.
Please leave your comments below about Designed Obsolescence and your experiences with it.
If you are a locksmith, what alternative brands and solutions would you recommend to the consumers? Tell us why? What mega manufacturer brands are you disappointed in? Have you lost money dealing with these brands? Did you have call backs? Did the consumer blame you?
Members of he Society of Professional Locksmiths participate in continuing education and professional development programs voluntarily to provide the consumer the best possible service. They investigate and recommend many alternative products of value.
If you learned something new from this blog or have more to contribute, please share your comments, give it a Facebook LIKE or Tweet!
The SOPL Shines a Light on The Dark Side of the Locksmith Industry - Locksmith Licensing is Shady Business!
Written By: Barry Campbell, Director of Operations SOPL
Kurtis Ming, from CBS 13 in Sacramento, recently reported on “The Dark Side of the Locksmith Industry.” There are some notable things about this report, both good and bad. The first is his reference to the “one time nature of locksmiths.” While most professional locksmiths endeavor to foster relationships with repeat, long-term customers, I think Ming has pointed out a popular misconception – that the main reason to call a locksmith is when you've locked yourself out of your home or vehicle, or perhaps to replace a lost car key. Sure, people who think like that probably also think the local hardware store carries the best in lock hardware, but the point is that there is a huge potential market out there of people who simply don't know any better.
Then there is the “simple lock picking” comment. More correctly, the report might have focused more on the “simple lock.” Not hard to teach someone to pick open a hardware store lock, but most locksmiths can combinate even these locks to be more difficult to pick. Professional locksmiths also may have the tools and knowledge to enable them to bypass even the “unpickable” lock without damage. Part of the problem, in this case, may have come from within the industry. How many of you have had a call to “pop” a lock? Many are easy, but many are not – sometimes by design and sometimes because of the condition of the lock. Regardless, the implication that picking is easy and should not cost much is unjustified.
I rather like the response of locksmith David Knosalla in an article from The Princeton Union-Eagle, where he was able to quickly and easily open a safe - “You called for an expert and that's what you got.” Now, if you carry just a long-reach tool and a drill for all your unlocks, you're no expert; but if you are a professional with the tools and knowledge to tackle virtually any situation, you are justified in charging what you are worth.
The article improves when Ming identifies the “locksmiths” called out to unlock the homes, including their license numbers. Yes, what more proof do you need that scammers can get a license whenever they need to? Even better, he confronts a spokesman from the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services that oversees the locksmith licensing. The interview was priceless:
Heimerich told Call Kurtis BSIS had received 281 locksmith complaints in the past two years, but Call Kurtis has learned only 17 locksmiths were actually cited, and none had their licenses revoked.
That's right; 281 complaints, 17 cited, and not a single license revoked in two years! How many times does it need to be proven? Licensing neither stops the scammers nor protects the consumer!
The saddest part of the report, though, had to be the recommendation from the California Locksmith Association (CLA). Given that the ineffectiveness of licensing was just shown, they could only recommend that consumers should verify the locksmith's license. Was that really the best they could do?
So in the darkness of it all the Society of Professional Locksmiths has helped shine a light on the shady business of licensing and how it is contributing to a false sense of security and a false sense of safety for the consumers. As these news reports increase we may see some bright sides in the coverage but in the end we find that relying on the idea of someone being licensed is like standing in the dark.
Can anyone seriously claim that licensing has illuminated our industry?
Just when you thought that Locksmith trade shows were becoming boring with lower attendance, the SOPL shatters that belief and makes it fun to attend! Professional locksmiths recently packed the SOPL exhibit during the NCLA Regional Security Trade Show in Concord, N.C. wanting to learn about new and exciting opportunities.
Attendees had opportunities to win one of many prizes worth thousands of dollars simply by playing fun games and engaging the exhibitors about their products.
The one thing that kills a trade show is people who walk around with their heads down and exhibitor spokespersons not doing their job and getting their attention. The SOPL is considered the most progressive, creative, and emerging locksmith organization, and is getting that attention!
Have you ever wanted to tell someone to "Go Scratch", well the SOPL does, and we mean it! One of the worst things to witness at a trade show is people who are found walking around with their hands out looking for "freebies", without any care to engage the exhibitors or learn about new products or services that could grow their business.
The SOPL and participating exhibitors gave away all kinds of products, including Access Control, Grade 1 Hardware, Masterkey Software, Door Frame Reinforcement, Transponder Keys, Neuter Bow Keys and even a Key Machine. Before any locksmith could get these freebies, they had to Go Scratch!
Attending a trade show is a 50/50 responsibility or relationship between attendees and exhibitors. Talk with the exhibitors, hear their presentation, and you get a chance to Go Scratch with a 50/50 chance of being an instant winner!
Get in the ZONE!
Don't be a loser, get in the zone, DropZone that is. If your not an instant winner, you may win an opportunity to play the Plinko game board to see where your luck falls. Every locksmith who finds themselves not in the zone can place the scratch cards into a drawing bowl and keep the fun going while meeting exhibitors and learning about the products which can help you be a winner!
Be a part of the future, be a part of the SOPL. We are in it to win it, are you?
Recently the NY Post ran a story for two consecutive days. It involved what is being described as a locksmith "whistle-blower" by the name of Joel Goldbaum stepping forward. Joel felt compelled to step forward to expose what he believes is shady practices of institutional locksmiths at the Kings County Hospital where he was employed. He claim they were padding their overtime.
As a result Joel found himself targeted in a hostile work environment and ultimately terminated.
Hospital locksmith says he was fired for exposing overtime scam
Axed OT ‘whistle-blower’ catches co-worker sleeping on job
According to Joel, there is more to the story and it is not just about the overtime. We can only imagine what the NY Post may expose next. Possibly personal and unlicensed businesses being operated out of the facility, using facility inventory for side jobs, brass buckets being filled with new inventory and cashed in at the local recyclers. It could be anything.
What we do know is that Joel Goldbaum made a decision to follow his conscience and his belief in the Baldomeric Oath, which is the SOPL's code of ethics. In doing so Joel who has a special needs child placed principle above his own self interest. At a time when everyone has their hands out and we see repeated and intentional degrading of the locksmiths by propaganda news reports fed by our own industry associations and editorial outlets, it is nice to see that integrity still matters to some who follow the SOPL code of conduct.
Time will tell how many layers will be peeled back. Let's just hope it is not an Onion that will make people cry.
Add your comments below
"We pursue every idea and listen to our members. The SOPL is the new industry standard where everything is possible."
A renaissance has begun as a result of the achievements of the SOPL and those who stepped up to the plate and did what others said could not be done or what they could not, or would not do.
The SOPL has a comprehensive training program with robust online proficiency testing with state approvals, it has a social network and social media platform packed with feature rich resources and communication systems, a live virtual classroom and a clean and professional discussion forum void of censorship or patrongage. But what makes this all interesting is that it is peer driven and the power to succeed is in the hands of the actual locksmiths not a centralized minority group operating with a broken 1950's model of command & control.
Some have said bridges have been burned. Sadly, these are the same individuals who were dragging down the industry, crushing the forward momentum and opportunities of the locksmith. One thing that can be said in any walk of life and particularly in the locksmith industry, is that when someone is succeeding you will always have those who will try to prevent them from doing so. For the most part it is done out of ignorance, but some do it because they don't like the idea that others can achieve what they cannot. I have seen this behavior in many locksmiths in the field and on particular industry forums. The ease at which they bad mouth others or tell lies long enough that they become truth not only to themselves, but others is endless.
So when someone says that "bridges have been burned", look at it as a good thing and embrace it with enthusiasm. Those flames are beacons in the night to help you avoid the tragedy on the other side. There are bridges in life that lead to nowhere and should be left behind. The SOPL has built a new road to travel, one with unlimited potential and opportunities for the locksmiths which is affordable, exciting and original.
Those claiming bridges have been burned do so because they are left standing on the other side, numb and lifeless looking across the abyss at what they worked so hard at trying to pull down and failed.
Burn Baby, Burn!
National Locksmith Magazine Editor Goes Paula Dean! - Publishes Racial Stereotype Slur Against "Brothers from the Hood"
In an editorial regarding right and wrong, The National Locksmith Magazine published by National Publishing Company 1533 Burgandy Parkway, Streamwood IL. appears to have gone Paula Dean, with editor Greg Mango publishing a racial stereotype about "brother(s) from the hood". This statement was made alongside the negative connotation about the parasitic scammers and hackers.
Is this really necessary in an editorial about copyright concerns?
This is the typical ignorant stereotype about inner city black people, that they are always thugs and non-civilized people or in some way associated with criminal activity. It is similar to Blacksploitation and I find it offensive on behalf of many good friends and fellow professionals who are minorities. It appears to me that the TNL magazine has a negative pre-disposition towards African Americans which is cause for concern, especially in an industry where minorities are greatly under represented, but who often out perform the competition.
Paula Dean seems to be catching a lot of heat and losing a lot of sponsors from something said 30 years ago. I wonder how long before the TNL starts losing its sponsors, or will the sponsors endorse such a racial slur?
The SOPL welcomes locksmiths from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds.
For those seeking an alternative, I would recommend you check out The Independent Locksmith Journal - http://tiljonline.com/
How do you feel about this? Post your comments below.
You want to hear something interesting, the Department of Public Safety/Private Security Bureau (DPS/PSB) auditors are afraid of licensed locksmiths; not making this up folks. My copy ofLocked-In, a monthly publication of the Greater Houston Locksmith Association, had its monthly report regarding the last DPS/PSB meeting.
“Because of some licensees working from their homes, and not from a storefront, some of the inspectors are concerned for their safety when auditing. It was recommended that a phone call be placed to schedule a meeting outside the home between the auditor and the licensee or for the auditor to take a state trooper with them to the home.”
Let’s set the background for these auditors going about the task of insuring the safety of the general public’s interaction with the locksmith industry.
Anyone who desires to work as a locksmith in the State of Texas is required to apply for, receive and maintain a license issued by the DPS/PSB. Requirements for the license include a thorough FBI investigation, fingerprints, substantial proof of the individual’s character which precludes anyone with a felony conviction and many misdemeanor offenses to include DWI. In short, those individuals who eventually obtain a locksmith license have shown they are above reproach.
On top of that locksmiths are required to invest a considerable sum, up front and before they make a single dime, for the license and the included requirement to have a bare minimum insurance policy to cover $1 million in damages (or is it $2 million; my policy is for $2 million) in case of a simple mistake or criminal wrong doing. Together this adds up to over a thousand dollars out of pocket expense for each locksmith every year and does not include the cost associated with mandatory continuing education in order to keep the license once it’s been issued.
Why would a representative of the DPS/PSB feel uncomfortable visiting a licensed locksmith, be it at a storefront or his/her home? Could it be the auditor understands his/her presence represents our transformation from a free market society where individuals at one time could depend on their God given rights as protected by the Constitution into a totalitarian repressive socialist state which grants permission for the basic right to work? (I love a run on sentence almost as much as I do my liberty)
My wife thinks these folks are scared because they receive letters, letters which they apparently view as threats from locksmiths who resent the State’s imposition into affairs which are none of their business. Isn’t that one of the beautiful parts of our constitutional republic, the ability to voice our disdain when government steps over the line and usurps authorities never intended?
Ezra Taft Benson explained in his talk, The Proper Role of Government:
“…let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise. As the French political economist, Frederick Bastiat, phrased it so succinctly, “Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.” (The Law, p.6)”
It has become painfully clear the folks running the DPS/PSB believe in the latter, that human rights are granted by government and can be denied by government. With each passing year it isn’t hard to notice the usurpation of powers by government; powers which rightfully belong to individuals have been taken over by bureaucratic fiat under the direction of a well meaning legislature intent on safeguarding the public.
“Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither”. Ben Franklin
If America were a democracy then it would be understandable for the majority to establish laws which inflict injury to some individual’s personal rights; however, America is a constitutional republic where personal rights can never be impugned regardless of the wishes of the majority. Individual rights are beyond legislation and the reach of well meaning bureaucratic policy makers and include the right to work in any otherwise lawful endeavor.
“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficient… The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Protestations by individuals in order to secure and maintain God given rights should not be taken as threats. Individuals of integrity and character seek a higher plain of reasoned conversation and use confrontation only as a last resort.
It is unfortunate to hear unwarranted fears from DPS/PSB inspectors voicing concerns for their well being to such an extent they feel it necessary to have an armed guard present in order for them to continue to enforce arbitrarily conceived rules and regulations on individuals licensed to perform locksmith work.
The Moral Liberal’s Senior Editor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Houston police officer, self-employed locksmith, and gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.
As the end of the year 2010 approaches with Christmas a sunrise away, I sit here and reflect on the state of the industry. In recent calls to my office I hear people saying that our industry is dead or there is nothing new or exciting. I do not believe this to be true. Hhowever, there is something amiss.
Locksmiths have always been very creative, and within our peer group we have some very interesting people with a variety of backgrounds and skills. As an industry we cannot simply rely on waiting for "others" to make something happen. It is the entrepreneurial spirit within the locksmiths that holds the key to the pulse of the industry and it always has.
The Society of Professional Locksmiths (SOPL) has tapped into that spirit which is causing a fresh breeze to blow and unleashing its potential. This is our very first blog post after thousands of hours building projects to help the locksmith community, and it comes on the heel of the SOPL launching a very exciting new virtual training classroom at www.securitytechnicalinstitute.com.
It is this reason why I ponder on the idea that some are saying this is a dead industry. It is not dead, it is simply standing still for some because of failed leadership and a desire by small group to move the independent free thinking locksmiths into a conformity box. The current economy may be affecting some, but there is still great opportunities for those who dare to lean into the storm and do something about it.
Within the SOPL there is electricity in the air and a sense of excitement with a return to the free thinking spirit and independence of each individual to be a part of the pulse and work towards making things happen, rather then waiting for things to happen which never do. The only thing dead within the SOPL is apathy.
There is a storm brewing and the SOPL is alive and well.