ORLANDO, Fla. - An Apopka woman said a company cashed in on fear when her daughter was locked inside a room.
Action 9 exposed the controversial national locksmith operation in a hidden camera test.
April Slipsager said her
2-year-old was crying behind a locked bedroom door and Slipsager could not pry it open.
"She was more frantic than I was. I needed to get her out," said Slipsager.
April called the first locksmith she found online, which advertised $14 service calls.
Slipsager said the man from Orlando Locksmith popped the lock in five minutes.
The bill was $190.
When she challenged it, she said she was told, "If you don't pay, the police will come and make you pay."
Slipsager later found the company is tied to a national operation with lots of complaints.
Action 9 put the company to a test at a local home using a pet locked inside a bedroom.
Action 9 used a locked inside door that most people can open themselves with a small screwdriver in a few seconds.
Technician Alon Levi popped the lock in a couple of minutes. As shown on hidden camera, instead of opening the
door, he kept working for another 15 minutes.
Local industry experts said the job should cost $35 to $50.
Action 9's bill was more than $100.
When confronted, Levi told Action 9's Todd Ulrich the $14 is a start for a service call.
"We're paying a whole lot more for a very simple lock?" said Ulrich.
"You ordered a locksmith," Levi said.
Action 9's investigation found the company is based in Arizona and has
excessive-charge complaints all over the country.
The tech said he didn't even know the company's name.
"You don't know who they are?" Ulrich said.
"No," said Levi.
"Isn't that kind of strange?" said Ulrich.
"I get a message," said Levi.
"And you just show up?" said Ulrich.
"Yeah," Levi said.
Local Locksmith in Phoenix did not return Action 9's calls.
Nine states require a locksmith license, but several attempts to license companies in Florida have failed in the legislature.