When you are locked out of your home, you are in a poor position to haggle. And unfortunately, as this LA Times article points out, there are locksmiths out there who will take advantage of the situation. Just ask Pat McGrath, who was charged $200 when he broke his key in his mailbox lock - $80 for a lock and $120 for 15 minutes of labor. I wish I made $480 an hour. In California, locksmiths are required to be licensed to work in the state, but restrictions are low and enforcement is lax. The best advice to avoid being scammed is to be prepared. Don't wait until you need a locksmith, find a good one beforehand.