I was really interested in this because I ran into this problem about four years ago when I locked my keys in my car (while it was running!) in Seaside. I went into the office of the hotel where I was parked and used their internet connection to search for a locksmith in Seaside. The one I called immediately started asking for personal information rather than the address where the car was.
I asked them where they were and it turned out they were in Salem. It wasn’t clear to me how they were going to help me from Salem, so I hung up and found a phone book. I called a local locksmith in Seaside listed in the (paper) yellow pages. They showed up in ten minutes and got in my car for $20. Problem solved (for me).
This is why I was so interested to see this article in the NY Times about locksmith internet scams. Apparently, the call centers that come up in a locksmith search farm the jobs out to independent contractors who often bait and switch by charging far more than the original quoted price. They also are typically short-term temps who don’t care about their reputation.
Some of these scammers go so far as to create fake digital storefronts that show up on Google maps as if they were an actual local business.
The moral of all this is:
In other words don’t think that, because something exists in a mediated form, that it will necessarily exist in the physical world. This problem has essentially no effect on Google’s revenue, so they have almost no interest in fixing or monitoring the problem. The internet is a wonderful tool, but be aware of the REAL physical local businesses in your area and support them in the real world.