Beyond the blatant hypocrisy that is revealed, sooner or later, by those who support licensing of those in the locksmith trade, is the simple fact that the licensing experiments are proven failures. Purportedly a means to eliminate those in the industry who do substandard work at highly inflated prices, the results of licensing have repeatedly been shown to be quite the opposite. Licensing, itself, is the scam. The failures of licensing to provide the promised benefits continue to show themselves, but three recent news items put it all in a neat little package.
The first, from NBC 5’s Samantha Chapman in Fort Worth, Texas, reports on a “locksmith” damaging a car and overcharging the customer for opening the vehicle. Texas licenses locksmiths, but obviously failed to protect the consumer. If the “locksmith,” or the company he worked for, was licensed, then licensing failed to ensure a minimum level of competency. If he or the company wasn’t, then licensing also failed. It not only failed to protect the consumer, but also failed to protect legitimate locksmiths from competition from scammers. The irony is that the company in question is located only a few miles from the offices of the Associated Locksmiths of America, an organization that has helped to promote these licensing schemes throughout the country. You might think that, under those circumstances, the Texas licensing laws would be the shining example of effective licensing laws if, in fact, there was any such thing. And above all, you would be wrong.
The “investigation” by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which oversees the locksmith licensing that failed to protect the consumer, is also quite illuminating. A spokesperson for the company involved says, in the report, that, "We are aware that the Texas Department of Public Safety is conducting a formal investigation, and we are working with them to get all proper rules and regulations in line and corrected. Since their visit with the owner of the company, we have then ordered new business cards, uniforms for each technician, proper presentation for each technician's vehicle, and invoices that have our phone number and company business license number on each of the items listed above." Wonderful; new business cards, uniforms, and invoices – that’ll fix them!
Then, we have a report from Eric Dexheimer from the Austin American-Statesman, also in Texas. Here, we have locksmith Shayne Gatlin, who “worked hard and grew his operation to three trucks and a retail shop, eventually acquiring more than 100,000 customers. The Better Business Bureau granted him its top rating.” After more than 30 years in business, Gatlin has been refused the renewal of his license because he was convicted of a crime as a nineteen year-old, thirty-eight years ago. Even Jim Hetchler, past-president of the Texas Locksmiths Association, admits in the report that Gatlin is “getting screwed,” though Hetchler fails to acknowledge that he and the Texas Locksmiths Association supported (and presumably, still do) the licensing requirements that are currently screwing Mr. Gatlin. Hypocrisy and failure all wrapped in one.
Finally, we have a report from Ross McLaughlin of CTV-News. A wonderful video report of a licensed scammer doing his thing. Pure and simple proof that licensing neither protects the consumer nor legitimate locksmiths from scammers and their competition. At some point, you would think that licensing advocates would stop pushing their failed agenda but, again, you would be wrong.