Discreet Investigation Service

Why Price Should Not Determine The Private Investigator You Choose


Over the last year, we have seen around a dozen cases that stand out to us for two important reasons: the client had previously hired another private investigative agency, and they had hired lawyers who did not specialize in their cases. Although in the past we have touched upon how to choose a private investigator, this article details what can happen if you choose the wrong private investigator or lawyer and how to avoid these mistakes.

The common factor between our clients who had negative experiences with other investigative agencies was that they had shopped around and picked an agency solely on price. In most cases, these clients had hired one- or two-man agencies. To be clear, there are certainly small, one-man agencies that do perfectly good work, however the private investigative business is overrun with small companies and no way to determine the good from the bad. Of course, there are large investigative agencies that do bad work as well, but having been doing this work for as long as we have, the trend we see is that the big agencies that have been around as long as we have don't last if they aren't as good as they claim to be. You will also notice a limited amount of large investigative agencies like ours in the Connecticut area.

A large, reliable investigative agency such as ours is not going to come in at the cheapest price; private investigation work is not like comparing products at big box stores to the little mom and pop shops that usually charge more. Here you are paying a different price for a different product. Our private investigation fees are based on us being able to handle cases right the first time; when someone tells you they can charge half as much, they are not going to be handling the cases the same way we would, and you will not be getting the same results. The following are three examples in which a client had a bad prior experience with a cheaper agency:

Example 1 is a cohabitation case where the client had spoken to us and then hired a one-man agency that charged him a third of our price. Keep in mind that cohabitation investigations can only be done one way, and that investigator convinced the client all they needed was to perform drive-bys in the middle of the night and document the cars in the driveway. This could not have been more wrong; that is not viable cohabitation evidence and resulted in this “evidence” being thrown out in court. To worsen the situation, the investigator admitted to lying about some of the drive-bys and had never done many of them, as he quickly realized after starting the case that he had priced it so low he would quickly start losing money.

Example 2 involves a GPS tracker that was put on a vehicle to document what an individual was up to as part of a lifestyle investigation. The problem was that the couple had been divorced for six months and it was not legal to put a GPS on the car, so the evidence obtained was all thrown out of court. Why was the GPS put on the car in the first place? As was revealed in the deposition, the investigator was not good at mobile surveillance. They had put the GPS on the car because they kept losing the subject.

The final example is a simple locate investigation; the client had hired someone who undercut our price by half and then fed the client all sorts of excuses as to why they could not locate the individual. The client then hired us to complete the investigation and within 24 hours we had located the individual. There was no magic database we used and no special industry secrets; it was a matter of putting in hours of field work, which is why we charge what we do for locates. Unfortunately, too many investigators really don't know how to do this work and rely solely on databases which aren't usually accurate.

There are many more cases we could speak of to illustrate that price alone is not something to focus on when it comes to investigative work. There are simply right and wrong ways to do things, and the right way is by putting the time and effort in.

The other commonality between the three examples above is the legal team chosen in each case. Unfortunately for our example clients, the lawyers they had hired for their failed cases did not have a deep enough understanding of the cases they were taking on. There are a lot of great lawyers out there and our point is not to generalize about or criticize lawyers, but reinforce that it is important to make sure that when you are hiring a lawyer that they specialize in the types of cases you are involved in. If your normal lawyer doesn’t specialize in your current need, find one that does. Much like hiring the right, experienced private investigator, this will make or break your case.

For more information on how much private investigators charge, read our past blog post on the topic.