Nick Rees Apr. 7, 2010, 11:13am
BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler's Consumer Protection Division has issued a cease and desist order against a Maryland locksmith over fees charged for his services.
ATCL-MD, Inc., known as Around the Clock Locksmith, and Joseph M. Horton, its owner, were alleged to have charged more than $4,300 to replace a lock and deadbolt and fees as high as $1,400 to respond to a consumer's request for locksmith services.
In its statement of charges, the division alleges that Around the Clock refuses to give an estimate of its fees to consumers or only provides extremely low estimates. When customers balked at paying the company's undisclosed fees, their credit cards were then allegedly charged by the company without prior authorization.
"You can't provide a low estimate to get your foot in the door and then charge multiples of that estimate to perform the service," Gansler said. "The Order requires the company to provide realistic estimates and to stick by them."
The Division also alleges that Around the Clock and Horton falsely used a competitor's name to steal the competitor's customers and misrepresented that the company was a member in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Around the Clock and Horton were ordered by the Consumer Protection Division to immediately cease and desist from further engaging in unfair or deceptive trade practices. Restitution, penalties and costs will be determined following a June hearing.