These days, everything seems more expensive and nowhere is this more evident than in the private investigation industry. As the economy suffers from inflation, the basic costs of items increase and these extra costs trickle into services you might use on a regular basis.
There are ways, however, to make private investigation and private investigator costs more affordable and here are 5 ways you can do it:
1. Always have a contract
Why should you always have a contract with a private investigator? Well, for one, it’s simply good business, but more importantly it protects both you and the private investigator. Your protection is that you can’t be charged for anything that’s not described in the contract and this potentially saves you from expenses that weren’t outlined in a formal contract.
You will also save money by having the private investigator only provide services that are outlined in the contract. Some unethical private investigators will take it upon themselves to do things (that cost you money) that have no bearing or use in your situation or case. By having a clearly defined contract you save yourself from potential expenses that you weren’t expecting.
2. Agree on costs prior to the case
You can have a conversation with the private investigator where you ask them to ballpark what a certain service might cost when completed. Any experienced investigator will be able give you a range of what something might cost. In the case of surveillance, there may not be a reliable stop time, especially if the subject of the investigation is on the move.
Many services a private investigator provides, such as locates, will have a finite price associated with them. To save yourself money, make sure you know which services are set in their costs and which may be variable in nature.
3. Negotiate a flat fee
It’s not out of the ordinary for you to negotiate a flat fee with a private investigator. Even in surveillance cases you can negotiate a flat fee to save on potential mileage charges, or simply to just get a “good deal”.
A reliable, professional private investigator should not just “be about the money”. They should be invested in getting you the evidence that you need for your case.
There are many situations where a private investigator may not be able to work on a flat fee basis, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You never know, it just might save you money.
4. Don't use an unlicensed investigator
Using an UNLICENSED investigator is probably the one way you can throw your money down the drain. There are four ways this can happen:
- They’re unlicensed, so they’re unprofessional and will probably do such a bad job that any money you give them will be wasted money.
- They can simply not do the work you paid them for. We’ve seen this happen hundreds of times in our 20 year history.
- Any evidence they obtain is useless to you as it’s illegally obtained and can’t be presented in court.
- You’ll have to hire a licensed investigator to attempt to obtain the evidence legally, which will essentially mean you’ve paid twice for the same services. Actually, in most cases the licensed investigator will cost you more than twice the amount you paid to the first unlicensed investigator. This is because the case dynamics will most likely have changed and it will be harder to obtain the evidence you need.
5. Agree on a communication schedule
Establish a communication schedule with your private investigator. Don’t expect your investigator to give you a “blow by blow” account of what’s happening on a case, but you can expect daily updates to keep you informed on how the case is going.
Don’t let days, or weeks pass by as this could end up costing you more money if the investigator happens to be on the wrong track as far as your case is concerned.
Also, you should be sure to make yourself available for the investigator if needed. Private investigators can’t read minds, and if they can’t get a hold of you it may end up costing you more money because they made an on-the-spot decision. You don’t want to pay more than you have to, or need to.