A cowboy locksmith is charging up to 1,000% normal trade rates for getting vulnerable and elderly Londoners who have locked themselves out back into their homes.
Devastated customers say Adrian Rosu, a Romanian national living in Croydon, turns up in a BMW 3 Series hours after agreed appointment times and drills out door locks before fitting cheap replacements and demanding on-the-spot card payments of over £1,000 for 20 minutes’ work.
Locked-out Londerers who have fallen victim to his scam, run via multiple different business names including LOCK SERVICES LONDON LIMITED (londonlocksmith24h.co.uk), have taken to online business directories such as Cyclex to complain about him.
On 07 April, Mitchell wrote: “This company is a real scam. I am 80 years of age and they charged me £1,003.20 to get me safely in my flat. Each stage is never price quoted and I gave my card to put in card reader only after was handed a receipt and said sign here. After the man left, I put on my glasses and was in shock… over a thousand pounds went out of my account. I have reported to the bank and police and trading standards. This company should be closed down and people jailed”.
On 03 April, another customer wrote: “Ripped me off in the biggest way. They took advantage of the fact I was in my house alone. They charged £738 for opening the door and giving it a new lock it did not need… handing me the bill AFTER the work was done. Since found out they’ve been known attack you with a drill if you refuse to pay up. Report them, take them to court, whatever you do will make a difference.”
On 3 January, Nicoletta Perego wrote: “I had the emergency to call a locksmith to open the door of my room, and I was charged £496.80. On the receipt there are written different name company, phone number, different website and different e-mail from what I contacted and what I wrote at the beginning of this form, but really similar. The job was made by a Romanian guy. I paid almost £500 for a room lock!”
On 2 January, Sally wrote: “Website claims to be ‘affordable’ & ‘best prices in London’. Absolute nonsense. Live chat quoted basic door open from £69 + VAT. Their guy turns up in his BMW says it’s going to cost me £119 to retrieve my keys PLUS call out fee starting from £45? I got the same job done for £89 by another company ten mins after he left… really helpful for a lone woman who can’t get in the house. He charged me £48 cancellation fee which isn’t told to you upfront by company.”
On 5 December 2022, another customer wrote: “This is a scam and the biggest RIP off. I was locked out of my house and called them. The website quoted £59 for emergency call out. The guy came in 20 minutes, charged me £867.00 and before I could think said I could claim off the insurance. He fitted extra lock that I didn’t need and added extra labour and made me pay. I am devastated that this happen.”
The same company has received 5 pages of negative reviews by angry victims who have nowhere else to turn to after being fleeced by this conman at TrustPilot. One review details how an elderly lady was unable to purchase a mobility scooter she had been saving for, while another says they were taken advantage of because they didn’t speak English.
A young Brazilian bar worker earning minimum wage was left unable to pay for her accommodation when Rosu took an entire month’s rent from her after she locked herself out and found his website (londonlocksmith24h.co.uk) via a ‘bait and switch rogue locksmith advert’. She received a live chat quotation for getting her back into her room for under £60, but when the same ‘locksmith’ charged her credit card in person, it was for nearly 10 times that amount.
Erislane Silva de Oliveira’s small claims court filing (399MC732) includes an itemised bill that shows she was charged £330 for a lock available on Amazon for £32. Mr Rosu additionally charged an ’emergency call-out’ fee of £50 + VAT when the job was conducted during office hours on a weekday and he arrived six hours after the order was placed, as well as an ‘open door by drill’ fee at £169 + VAT.
Despite the girl not being able to speak English, Rosu defended his £592.80 bill, saying: ‘All the prices and charges have been discussed beforehand with the customer.’
The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) is the UK’s largest trade association for locksmiths. Their online price guide for locksmith work in the UK suggests changing a Standard euro cylinder lock on uPVC door should be charged for at around £85 for 20 minutes’ work.
In their website section ‘Examples of Customers Overcharged by Locksmiths‘ they show a bill for over £700 to ‘drill open a door’ – explaining: ‘What is wrong with this invoice? Firstly, most locksmiths do not drill and will attempt non-destructive entry … and if drilling is the only option, why has the ‘locksmith’ charged £180?’
They commented: “Unfortunately, as the industry is unregulated in the UK, this means anybody can call themselves a locksmith with no ID, anybody can trade as a locksmith with no qualifications, anyone can advertise as a locksmith and anyone can train to be a locksmith with no vetting.”
Lane’s story echoes many other reported cases of desperate customers being fleeced by so-called ‘locksmiths’, such as this one in The Daily Mail and this one in The Mirror newspaper, yet UK authorities continue to do nothing to reign in London’s ‘locksmith’ scammers.