Private investigators are known for their discretion and subtly. However, this does not mean that they should conceal or obscure what they will be charging you. When you hire an investigator, this individual or team works foryou and you should have the benefit of straightforward private investigator fees and transparency.
When considering that those who are trying to illegally obtain your information could be paying hackers thousands of dollars, according to the Daily Mail, how are you to know what you should pay a legal private investigators to help you protect yourself?
Different Methods Private Investigators Use to Set Prices
- Flat Fees – In some cases, investigators may set flat prices for specific services. This will typically only be the case for very simple and straightforward tasks. For example, an investigator might charge flat fees for filing certain documentation with the courts.
This form of payment is used minimally or not at all by most private investigators, as most of the services provided are quite complex and they will require varying degrees of time and resources.
- Hourly Rates – Most private investigator fees are set in the form of hourly rates, typically per investigator working on the case. Many of the cases require tasks that include surveillance, research and analyzing, which could require one afternoon, or weeks. This makes it very difficult to impossible for the investigators to set flat prices for all clients.
- Payment for Expenses – When hiring a P.I., be sure to read the small print, especially in regards to expenses. In some cases, private investigator fees will not include certain expenses, such as transportation and/or lodging costs, if applicable. Some investigation firms will require clients to pay a set rate per miles driven by the investigators.
Picking Your Investigation Team or Your Investigator Carefully
Obviously, you do not want to be paying private investigator fees for services that are not rendered. One way to protect yourself from this problem is to ask investigators you are considering plenty of questions regarding their pricing practices. In particular, it is essential to determine how work completed is being tracked and logged.
When charging by the hour, a reputable investigator will keep precise time logs that detail when the investigator or investigators were actively working on the case, and which services were being rendered. This allows you, the employer, to see exactly where your payment is going.
Professional and dependable investigators will provide clear information regarding all pricing policies before any work begins, and will be gladly willing to provide you with regular updates regarding the progress of the investigation. If the firm or individual you are considering is unwilling to provide this level of transparency, you should move on to a different provider who is willing to work with you, the client, more closely.
Remember – You Get What You Pay For
As you begin to receive quotes for private investigator fees, you will likely be surprised by how large the range will be. If these people are all working in the same profession, why aren’t the prices more similar? That is because not all private investigation services are equal; in fact, they rarely are.
Prices can vary from one group to another based on factors such as:
- The experience, specialties, and bodies of work of the investigators
- If the investigations are taking place on short notice or over holidays
- Special equipment and resources used by the investigators
Instead of simply comparing private investigator prices, consider the prices being offered in regards to the services and resources that you will be receiving. The key is to determine the quality and value being provided.