Basic Private Investigator Fee Information
Before beginning the process of hiring a private investigator (PI), one of the fist things that you should familiarize yourself with is the concept of private investigation fees. Every product and service has its worth just as the work of a PI is generally worth an average amount of money. If you are aware of the average amount of money a private investigator or an investigation agency charges, it will be much easier for you to pick out a reputable PI who is going to give you the services that you need. After all, when it comes to the business world, you get what you pay for—so, while hiring a low-charging PI may seem like an initially good idea, it often produces less than desirable results. At the same time, hiring a private investigator that charges way more than is necessary may be an equally un-economical decision. Some PIs and firms charge a flat rate while others charge an hourly fee, generally depending on the type of case (many cases are continuous and have no set end when they are first entered into). When it comes to making the best decision possible, research and information are your best friends.
The fee of a private investigator is generally based on four factors: education, location, experience, and type of case. Some of the most famous firms charge somewhat exorbitant hourly prices—up to three figures—that the average person would be hard-pressed to pay. Other less-experienced, semi-retired, or simply more average PIs may have a lower private investigation fee. Education works much the same way, with PIs who hold Master’s degrees generally charging substantially more than PIs lacking academic credentials. Location is highly arbitrary; a firm that charges more a high price per hour is generally going to be located in a highly urban or affluent area of a country. In the United States, the highest charging PI firms are located in major metropolitan areas like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The same principle concerning fees and location holds true across the world. In a country like Singapore—the country with the highest GDP in Asia—one would also expect a typically high private investigator fee When it comes to type of case, fees can get a bit trickier to judge. Easy jobs, such as set schedules of surveillance, are generally charged on a flat-rate fee because the work that will need to be done can be easily measured. Common, low-profile investigations into spousal infidelity and other domestic matters cost substantially less than cases where information can cost individuals and businesses thousands of dollars, as is the case with high-profile criminal investigation cases and hazardous material investigations.
If you’ve already hired a private investigator, or have already chosen a PI to work with on the basis of expertise rather than initial fees, you may be wondering now: how much is this going to cost? Due to the emphasis of confidentiality, secrecy, and mystery that generally surrounds most private investigation cases, it is often difficult to gauge just how long it will take for a case to be “solved”—and the time it takes for a case to be solved is important if you’ve hired a PI that gets paid by the hour. It is a generally accepted rule that no PI can work more than ten hours in a single day; there generally aren’t enough cases to work on for that long and most PIs have a life outside of their job that they need to attend to. Even if a PI has a relatively low hourly fee (the average fee is at least two figures) the hours add up, leaving you with a surprisingly large bill to deal with once the case is finished. Usually, even small or struggling PI firms and self-employed PIs can find more than ten hours of work a week, and, coupled with the fact that long-term cases/surveillance usually require a five day analysis period before the actual investigation begins, the private investigation fees can sometimes add up to rather dauntingly high numbers.