Quality and Workmanship

by Jon on December 7, 2010

It is not uncommon for a locksmith to replace a good quality lock with a cheaper one when re-keying a bank-owned property.  There are legitimate reasons to do this:  One might be that the bank specifies a particular code that’s not available with an existing lock.  Another reason might be that there are several different kinds of locks on the property and the bank would like to have the same key work on all doors if possible.  And banks don’t want to pay for expensive locks; and the locksmith does have to make a profit to stay in business.  And besides, these are usually only “temporary locks” anyway.  One expects that the new homeowner will replace those temporary locks with good quality ones again after they’ve moved into their new home.    And I’m talking about ordinary doors and locks here.

However there are times when it is important to re-tumble existing locks rather than replace them in order to maintain a high level of quality – particularly in upscale homes.  In such cases it is unacceptable to replace expensive locks with cheap ones for expediency, especially if the door needs to be modified in order to make the cheaper lock fit.

Custom Carved Double Door

Custom Carved Double Door

The worst case of this I have encountered was a situation where I was called out to re-key a custom-built home that had VERY expensive doors and locks installed.  Unfortunately, someone else had been there before me and replaced two of those expensive locks with $5 locks made in China.  That in itself might have been okay except that the “locksmith” (and I use the word loosely here) who did this also “butchered” the two doors to make these cheap locks fit.  And, as it turned out, the new locks that were installed did not fit well enough to even lock the doors; simply pulling on the door would open it.   These were hand carved doors with special European mortise locks, each costing over $1000 and were now trashed and the house was still not secure.  It would have been better to leave the expensive doors and locks intact and secure them some other way – for example, one could have put a bar across to prevent them from being opened.  Later it would have been far less expensive to patch up a few bolt holes in the door frame than to replace those doors and locks!   There were other doors that could have been used for access; so it was not necessary to destroy the custom doors.

European Mortise Lock

European Mortise Lock

I recommend that if you know that you have a situation like this where the doors and hardware are special and expensive; make sure you have an understanding with your locksmith before he goes out to change the locks about how you expect the work to be done and the level of quality workmanship you expect of him.  If he cannot re-key the existing locks and save those expensive doors, find someone who can or find another way around the issue.  It could save a lot of money and heartache down the road for someone.

The Butchered Door

The Butchered Door

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Grady Turner March 8, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Someone should file a claim against the individual or company responsible. If they don’t have liability insurance, and won’t pay for a proper repair/restoration, this might be considered destruction of property.

It’s definitely not the work of a professional locksmith.

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