In the latest internet scam, local home services such as locksmiths, are under fire for bait and switch pricing.
When people are locked out of their home, they turn to the internet to find a locksmith that can help them get back into their home or car. Most of us know that the best search results are shown at the top of the list, so why question the businesses’ credibility when companies like Google are doing it for us?
Well it turns out that these shady locksmiths showing up at the top of the SERP, are just call centers that trick Google’s search engines into thinking they are legitimate businesses. These call centers act as lead generators for sub-par locksmiths. When you make the call for help, they quote you a fair price, then send the details to one of their subcontractors. The subcontractor shows up at your home, completes the job, then charges you up to seven times what you were quoted.
Many people reluctantly pay up because they just want to get into their home. The goal of this scam is to get as much money out of each person that calls.
To combat this scam, Google is launching an advanced verification process for locksmiths and plumbers. As of now it is being tested in San Diego. It is expected that this will also roll out to other types of businesses in the future.
The verification process is simple. New plumbing and electrical businesses must submit a form which includes several questions about the business. A third party will review the application and clear the business. After the form clears, those businesses will see a “Google Guaranteed” tag and emblem below their business name and star ranking in home services ads.
In case of a scam or bad service, Google is covering services booked through Google Home Services, with compensation up to $2000. Currently this only extends to locksmiths and plumbing.