Cheltenham locksmith's warning after name 'hijacked' via Google
LOCKSMITH Ollie Stankovich is warning people to be wary of national companies passing themselves off as local firms.
The 27-year-old, who has run Cheltenham Locksmiths for five years, said customers are being caught out by businesses advertising their services on Google.
It comes after Ollie tried to stop another firm from misleading people – and wound up being visited by the police for blackmail.
And while the detectives have now admitted there is no case to answer, he has decided to pass on the details of the companies to Trading Standards officers for them to investigate further.
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Ollie said he was first told of the problem when a customer told him they had clicked on a competitor's link thinking it was his.
He added: "Recently I have been losing work due to national companies claiming to be local locksmiths when in fact they have been misleading customers by simply using local telephone numbers and then sub-contracting out the work to locksmiths from the area at a massive cost to the customer.
"I spoke to one customer who was charged nearly £300 pounds by a national company while I would have charged £90 for the same work.
"I wrote to one company, asking them to change the header of their advert on Google Pay Per Click as it included Cheltenham Locksmiths, which is my registered company name. When they did not reply, I emailed them to say I would click on their advert, costing them money as they are costing me money.
"The next thing I know, I received a telephone call from West Midlands Police claiming there had been a complaint made for harassment and blackmail."
Ollie was visited by officers earlier this week to be told the investigation would not be continuing. But he is determined not to leave the matter there.
"The police have said it is a waste of time but I have now spoken to Trading Standards and they are going to look into it," he said.
"It is wrong to be posing as a Cheltenham company when they are based elsewhere.
"I have spent the last five years trying to make a name for myself so it is frustrating when somebody comes along and uses my name to advertise their business."