Private investigator fees are defined as the actual costs involved in beginning, working on and completing a client’s case assignment. In essence, we are talking about the total price of the investigative services being rendered.
There are many potential fees which might have to be covered in order to get a private detective to accept your case. However, the cost is generally quite fair and a true bargain, considering the specialized nature of the services provided. Clients and detectives alike must both be absolutely sure to understand the agreed upon fee structure before doing business together. This mutual comprehension is vital to prevent misunderstandings and bad feelings which may occur if one party pays or receives too much or too little.
This guide helps prospective investigative clients to fully understand the fee structure of a typical professional detective so that they can derive the most value from their monetary investment. Additionally, this essay advises professional detectives on some business aspects of the industry that can help them to succeed, despite the typical payment problems that many private eyes face.
Private Investigator Fees Explained
The majority of professional investigators charge a per hour/per investigator fee to work on any type of case assignment. Some detectives also charge a premium for particular types of case work. Additionally, most detectives will charge travel expenses and mileage driven at a set and agreed upon rate. Any actual expenses incurred will be billed back to the client and receipts will be provided to justify reimbursement. Some investigators charge set fees to begin a case file, close-out a case file or provide any form of testimony or written report as to the findings of the assignment.
Make sure to get a complete list of all charges involved or expected in your particular case before signing any sort of contract or retainer agreement. Be certain that all justified expenses are expressly detailed and that no financial surprises will come up due to your decision to hire a particular detective.
Paying Private Investigator Fees
It is also crucial to understand the complete terms of payment in order to maintain a good working relationship with your chosen investigator. Some private detectives will work on a case and bill the total due at the end of the case, while others require retainer fees upfront and regular payments as the case progresses. Other detectives will require that expenses will be paid in advance, or as incurred, but will allow the client to wait until the case is finished to pay for actual billed services.
There are no absolute rules governing how your detective should or will bill you. Therefore, it is wise to fully understand payment terms when discussing all the other important preliminary aspects of the case.
Never even think about neglecting to pay your professional investigator, since these people are experts at locating you and using the law to collect the money that is owed to them. Non-payment is perhaps the worst move you can make when doing business with a private eye. In virtually every instance, this type of strong arm refusal to pay lands the client in deep trouble legally and might also compromise their access to any evidence gathered during the assignment.
Private Investigator Fees Summation
As a working investigator, it is vital that you set up a fee structure which is fair, competitive and reasonable so that your clients can hire you without having to mortgage their homes to do so.
As a client, it is crucial that you fulfill the contract with your investigative professional and make sure that they are fairly compensated for their time and expenses, as agreed upon.
Having worked in the detective business for years, I know how difficult it can be to collect from corporate clients, such as insurance carriers and law offices. Although the check virtually always comes eventually, it can be months, or even years, until a bill is fully satisfied. This type of long wait rarely occurs when working with private clients, but can create some serious monetary hardships for investigators in very rare circumstances.
So, as a final word of advice to working professional investigators, make sure that you have enough operating capital to get you through the lean times when work is intermittent or when clients are slow to pay. This will save your business from fiscal ruin, time and time again.