This page may help to answer some FAQ’s that you may have regarding our Billings Montana locksmith services, warranty and products. If you have any other questions please feel free to call and ask!
-FAQ 1: Why do you charge a service charge for your locksmith service?
–All mobile business’s charge one form of a fee or another for providing service at your location. This fee is to cover the cost of fuel, maintenance, insurance and employee labor time. If it weren’t for this charge, mobile business’s would not generate enough income to justify their overhead and they would not be able to stay in business. You can save the cost of this fee by bringing your work in to the business location if possible.
-FAQ 2: Where can I buy a set of locksmith tools to get back into my home / car?
–Quite simply, unless you are a locksmith, tow truck driver, mechanic or security professional, you will probably not be able to get your hands on them. Most states and local governments have laws that control who is allowed to have possession of lockout tools. There is usually a stiff penalty if you get caught possessing these lockout tools and do not have a legal reason. Our advise is simply to make spares and hide them or give them to a friend you can call in the advent you lock yourself out. Not to mention, spares are by far less expensive than lockout tools!
-FAQ 3: What is the warranty for your locksmith service?
–We warranty our services for 90 days with some exceptions. There are a few kinds of labor that we perform that come with no warranty at all, however the locksmith will advise you of this before doing any work. The three most common being the re-coding of Schlage SecureKey, and Kwikset SmartKey hardware, along with certain pot-metal cylinders commonly found on aluminum frame glass doors. These cylinders are known for their resistance to being serviced, and often fail shortly afterward. SecureKey (although discontinued) and SmartKey were intended to allow home owners to re-code their own hardware if they needed to. We do “re-code” them if we are asked to, but due to the high failure rate of these cylinders, we do not warranty doing so.
-FAQ 4: Do locksmiths get their license through the state contractors licensing board?
–That depends on the state. Some states do have a locksmith license that is issued through a licensing board. For the states that do not have such a license, a locksmith simply needs a business license at the city or county level. Organizations such as the Associated Locksmiths of America are generally recognized as the industries authority when it comes to credentials. Some locksmiths in states that do not require any special license, choose to register with ALOA and attain the ability to advertise as a Certified Registered Locksmith or higher. Again, this is not an official title except by ALOA’s standard.
-FAQ 5: Do you offer discounts?
–We offer a variety of discounts. Please call us to inquire about any discounts or promotions that we currently running.
– FAQ 6: What is a chip key and why do they cost so much?
–More correctly, the “chip” is actually a transponder. Early versions had a small resistor in the blade and were called “VATS” by General Motors. VATS stands for “vehicle anti theft system”. The cars computer had to recognize the value of the resistor when the ignition was turned, in order for the car to run. If a key with the right mechanical cuts, but the wrong resistor value was used to try to start the car, it would go into a “timeout” mode where the engine could not be started for 10 minutes. Modern cars send a signal from the ignition cylinder that the transponder reflects back with an encrypted value. If the car doesn’t recognize the value, it will immobilize the vehicle for a set period of time. Almost all vehicles sold today have this method of “passive anti-theft” built into them. The reason why they are so expensive is two reasons actually. First, the transponder and second, there is typically some kind of programming that needs to be done. The programming usually requires the vehicle to be connected to a special tool for a period of time, and there is almost always a fee associated with that.
-FAQ 7: What is a sidewinder key?
–Sidewinders are called so because of the way they are cut. The sides are milled out using a router like machine. These are considered “high security”, and typically sidewinder cylinders themselves contain 4 times as many small parts inside them as a regular cylinders.
-FAQ 8: My remote doesn’t work any more. Do you sell them?
–Yes we do sell remotes, but often times you don’t need to replace the remote. Most remotes have a slot so that you can use a penny or dime to open them and replace the battery. A 3 volt battery that puts out 0.1 volt less than it should, is usually bad. Batteries can be found almost anywhere but just be careful to get the + and – negative sides oriented right! If the battery is good and the remote still doesn’t work, often times the contacts can be cleaned on the inside of the remotes shell. If this still doesn’t get the remote working again, then it is possible that the car simply dropped the remote from its memory and needs programmed again. This however, is rare!
-FAQ 9: Why do I need to provide proof of ownership if I lost the keys to my car?
–It is not uncommon for locksmiths to get calls from would be thieves trying to get us to help them commit their crime. They usually have a long winded story about how they acquired the vehicle recently and they have some sketchy unofficial paperwork to support their claim. It is up to us to sort this though and protect YOU from getting your car stolen! We are locksmiths, not law enforcement, and have no connection to the Motor Vehicles Division to run your ID or registration. Although as fellow citizens we do care if your insurance is current for our own sake… but that’s not why we are asking. We just want to rest assured that you really do have a legitimate interest in the vehicle. The same goes for lockouts and key makes of any kind. Whether it is your home, office, filing cabinet, or mailbox… we don’t intend to badger you. We are just trying to do the right thing. After all, locksmiths deal directly with your security. If people don’t trust us, they will not do business with us.
-FAQ 10: My key broke off inside the cylinder! What should I do?
–The best advise is quite simply… don’t touch it! Call a locksmith to extract the broken portion! Shoving instruments down inside to recover a broken fragment is almost never a good idea and will likely damage the cylinder. A locksmith will have the proper tools to extract the piece without causing harm. If by chance you do get the broken piece out or if it breaks on the outside, don’t loose it! It has the potential to save you hundreds of dollars! Take it to a locksmith to have them advise you on the best route to go. Most of the time they can simply cut a new one from the broken one and you will be on your way. If a code cut key is needed due to extreme wear, it is still far cheaper than having to pay a locksmith to come up with a new one from complete scratch.
-FAQ 11: My old blank is very worn out and doesn’t work well anymore, so I got a new one cut and barely works at all! Why won’t the new one work very well?
–Although not an absolute, this is typically not a problem with your locks. A “new” one is often not a “new” one at all. Taking a worn out blank and duplicating it, means you are simply copying all the wear right back onto a brand new duplicate. Although your new copy will be considerably stronger than your old one because the new blade doesn’t have all the wear down the sides, the actual cuts on the duplicate are usually worse than the original. This is because no duplicating machine cuts an exact copy. The 2nd generation copy has all the wear plus any slop from the duplicating machine added in! Even as little as 2 or 3 thousandths of an inch is enough to make a big difference on duplicates and it becomes even worse if the blank being duplicated also started life as a copy. Our machines are kept closely calibrated to help avoid this, but the true cure is to “originate” a brand new blank. Quite simply this means to cut a key that corresponds to the factory code. There is a small fee to do this, but 99 percent of the time this is the best solution to the problem.
Home and Business FAQ’s:
-FAQ 12: What is a master system? What are the benefits? Is it more secure?
–Master systems are a way to pin cylinders, that allows for multiple levels of users. It gives the holders of top level blanks access to everything, but restricts lower level holders only to what they need access to. For instance, the owner of multiple business locations can hold one blank to all of the doors at all of the locations. Each branch manager can hold one blank that gets them into all doors at their location only. Department heads can hold a blank that gets them into all doors that pertain to their department at their location. And opening / closing associates can hold a blank that gets them into the exterior doors only. Further more, maison keying is another way of pinning cylinders that will allow a holder to have access in a different way. In the same example, a cleaning person can be issued a blank that will get them into the exterior doors at all locations, and into a cleaning closet within each building. The blank will operate nothing else, even what the lowest level associates have access to. A mathematical system has to be created to maintain the integrity of the system and to insure that the blanks only operate what they are intended to operate. The downside to the convenience, of a master system, is that they are inherently less secure with standard hardware. The adding of pins into the cylinders also adds more shear lines for the cylinder to be opened with. Master pinning, when coupled with high security hardware is the ultimate in convenience and security.
-FAQ 13: What is high security hardware?
–Manufactures of high security hardware like, Schlage Primus, Medico and Assa, add more internal parts to make them more difficult to pick or “bump”. Most of the time they will add a “side bar” in addition to more pins. These are next to impossible to defeat using traditional methods. Some manufactures also go a step further to protect against destructive entry techniques as well, by adding hardened pins in front of drill points. Another benefit of high security hardware is that usually the blanks themselves are protected against copying. A person can issue a copy to a complete stranger and still rest assured that the new holder literally cannot get a duplicate cut anywhere. Only the owner of the hardware can get duplicates or authorize someone to make other people to make copies. Although the cost is somewhat higher than standard hardware, coupling high security hardware with a master system is the usually the best way to go for larger business, businesses with high turnover rates, or where copies are only temporarily issued.
-FAQ 14: My key says Do Not Duplicate. Can I still get a copy made?
–There is no law that says standard Do Not Duplicate blanks are illegal to copy. Most places that cut blanks will simply refuse to copy them, whether it is because they don’t want to do anything wrong, or because they think they don’t have the correct blank in stock. Typically locksmiths will try to determine whether they are doing the right thing by copying a DND blank. We just want to feel comfortable that we aren’t giving someone access to something they shouldn’t have. Bottom line… be prepared to have some form of proof that you have a legitimate reason to get a copy.
-FAQ 15: What are bump keys?
–Bump keys are an alternate form of manipulating a cylinder open than traditional picks. They are only legal for locksmiths and security professionals to posses. There is a misconception that possessing one bump key will give its holder easy access through almost any lock. Nothing could be further from the truth. Using a bump key is a skill that is acquired and that takes time and practice… just like picking a lock. Hardware manufactures have been putting parts into some of their products for years that makes bumping next to impossible. Also, due to different cylinder profiles, it is physically impossible for one bump key to fit all cylinders. Lots of homeowners have become worried in recent years about the bumping “epidemic”. In our opinion, it is not much to worry about. Bumping is quite noisy because of the way you have to hit the blank. Purchasing high security hardware is nice for peace of mind, but largely unnecessary. Making sure your doors and windows shut, latch and deadlock properly is far more critical than worrying about someone bumping their way in. If a criminal wants in bad enough, a door knob of any kind will not hold them back.
-FAQ 16: I heard you can make a copy with tin foil, gelatin, and putty?
–It is possible to do all of these things, but just like bumping it is not much to worry about. In order for all of these methods to work, there is other extremely uncommon and difficult to produce materials needed. Some of these techniques require an existing working copy in the first place, so unless you are handing your key to random strangers… why worry? A hardware store copy is infinitely easy to come across!… and no… a master that fits all locks, simply DOES NOT exist! If it did, locksmiths would use it versus picks to unlock homes!
-FAQ 17: Our house has old locks that we don’t have keys to. We have been locked out before because of this. We would like to save the old hardware. Can you make keys to them?
–It is possible to make keys to the old mortise type locks, but it is costly. There is also replacement hardware available, but they usually require more work to get them to fit the door, than is worth the effort. Most doors with old mortise type hardware already have a deadbolt installed above them. We typically recommend disassembling the chassis and removing the parts that can cause it to “accidentally” lock. This way you can keep the hardware for the old look and feel, without worrying about it locking you out. If there is a modern deadbolt above it, use that to secure the door. If there is no deadbolt, we can install these for you.