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€1,000 bill: Why are French locksmith charges so high?

Out-of-hours services can be eye-wateringly expensive so customers should choose who they call carefully

Locksmith prices in France are unregulated Pic: TSViPhoto / Shutterstock

Reader question: A friend locked themself out and had to pay €1,000 for a locksmith to break open the door and fix a temporary lock. Are there no rules on such high fees?

Normal locksmith call-outs during working hours cost €100 to €200, plus the cost of a new lock if needed.

Despite an abundance of locksmiths in French cities, competition does not seem to reduce the number of stories like your friend’s. Recent cases in the media have included bills for €4,500 and another for €7,100!

Read more: The key to finding a good locksmith in France

Most high bills occur when people lock themselves out at night or at the weekend.

Prices are unregulated but, if excessive, there is a chance fraud investigators might get involved.

Code of good practice

Some locksmiths have joined networks with codes of good practice, such as Serruriers de France (its website lists members).

Volunteers at consumer rights association UFC Que Chosir dealt with so many cases of abusive emergency locksmiths and other artisans that it set up a company to put approved locksmiths in touch, with written quotes, with clients.

The Mes Dépanneurs Que Choisir service is currently only available in big cities and areas around them. It can also be contacted by telephone at 09 74 73 54 57.

Of course, asking someone you can trust to look after a spare key is the cheapest solution of all.

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