Judge: Locksmith facing dozens of complaints risks being found in contempt

Around the Clock Locksmith faces complaints of excessive fees

August 05, 2010|By Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

A locksmith who was accused by dozens of consumers of overcharging and other unfair business practices must offer estimates before doing work or face contempt of court, an Anne Arundel County circuit court has ruled.

Judge Michelle D. Jaklitsch granted a preliminary injunction against Around the Clock Locksmith and owner Joseph M. Horton at the request of the Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general's office, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced Thursday.

The injunction enforces an order the office issued in April to protect consumers while an administrative proceeding against the company and its owner is pending. Horton was not immediately available for comment.

The attorney general's office has charged the company with charging excessive fees for basic services without providing estimates — as much as $1,400 to respond to a request for services and more than $4,300 to replace locks — and ordered the company to give customers estimates before doing any work. About 53 consumers had reported complaints.

The division asked the judge to enforce the order after it continued to receive complaints from consumers, Gansler's office said Thursday. The court found that the locksmith company violated the division's order by not only failing to provide estimates, but charging consumers' credit cards without their consent and pressuring consumers to sign documents by holding onto their personal documents and keys.

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