When a person makes the decision to hire a private investigator, it’s not something they do lightly. With all the stress behind the reasons they might need to hire a P.I., you also have to factor in another stressful issue.
How much will it cost to hire a private investigator?
This is the $64,000 question and often the first thing that makes or breaks the decision to hire an investigator.
There is a lot of what we call “cowboys” in the industry. They are people who will take on any job, often for very cheap rates, and will do anything even if it means breaking the law to get results. The quality of their work is often questionable as well. One wonders if they are really conducting the surveillance work they claim they are. What might sound cheap at the start could easily end up costing more in the long run as you are ripped off with false reports, and longer than needed surveillance sessions. These type of people will take your hard earned money while they have a lend of you. They may deliver average results in many cases.
The Cost Effective Private Investigator
In order to make the most of your money when hiring a private investigator, you need to keep in mind a couple of things.
Is your private investigator a licensed professional in the state you are?
Is your private investigator a member of industry associations?
Is your private investigator charging a reasonable price? (not too cheap, not too expensive!)
Does your private investigator come across as professional and trustworthy?
The last one may be more of a gut instinct, but it’s very important.
A good private investigator will be happy to work with you to get a result for a price you are happy with. They will be upfront about costs and happy to keep you informed along the way. They won’t lay on a sales pitch promising particular results and they will have your best interests first as the customer.
How to keep the costs down?
The best way to help keeping your costs down when hiring a P.I. is to provide as much information to them as you can. For a surveillance job, it’s a lot more cost effective to give subject’s addresses, work locations, hang out locations, photos, times they may go to the gym, etc. Giving a very vague “I’m not sure what they do at night” or “I’m not sure where they work” will end up costing you more as we have to try to figure out where to start from each day. It’s also totally fine not to have all the details like this, we can find them also, that’s what a P.I. is for! But for the sake of this blog post, we are talking about making your case as cost effective as possible and getting the best bang for your buck.
What are the charges for an investigation?
In the instance of a surveillance operation, most private investigators will charge you an hourly rate that will include time taken to get to locations. They will charge you for kilometers traveled in a vehicle. They will charge you for anything needing to be purchased as part of fitting or blending in at a location, (entry to a club, meal at a restaurant, coffee in a cafe, etc). They will also charge you a report fee if required.
These are the basics and it can vary from investigator to investigator. Some may just charge a higher hourly rate that covers it all. For longer more complex investigations, they may charge you one lump sum per day or per week. These are things you need to factor in when you contact a P.I. Have a think about what’s going to work best for you. If you just need a photo of your boyfriend at a bar kissing another girl and you know where he’s going to be, then one night of hourly surveillance will probably be what you need.
A good private investigator will work with you to help be cost effective while delivering a great result. Anything else and you may be dealing with a cowboy!
Marc Pikrt is a Licensed Private Investigator and runs the Gold Coast based Paradise Investigations.