While it’s always prudent to look for the most economical option when searching for a private investigator (or any service provider), the “most economical option” doesn’t necessarily mean hiring the cheapest investigator available. Although more expensive firms charge a higher hourly rate, they can often get the same — or better — results than seemingly cheaper PIs in only a fraction of the time. For example, a firm that charges $225 per hour may be able to get the information that you’re looking for in less than an hour, while the $100 per hour firm might take weeks to get the same information.
Cheap investigators often produce lower quality work. They may produce incomplete and disorganized reports with little or no useful information; or they may miss important information when performing simple investigative tasks like background checks. Investigators who charge higher rates usually have much higher success rates; they produce solid results where cheaper firms struggle to produce anything. That’s why they command the higher rates. Spending money on an investigator who is less likely to yield results may end up being much more expensive in the long run than working with a professional, highly experienced investigator who charges more.
Think about it this way:
- Investigator A charges $125.00 per hour
- Investigator B charges $75.00
- Investigator C charges $30.00
All three investigators are bidding for the exact same job and all provide similar services. But here are the results:
- Investigator A takes 3 hours to do the job, so you spend $375.00
- Investigator B takes 5 hours to do the job, so you spend $375.00
- Investigator C takes 18 hours to do the job, so you spend $540.00
The solution is not always to hire the most expensive investigator, but it is important to look at the big picture and to take the overall quality of the investigator into account.