We have been in this business for many years, and during that time we have seen companies come and companies go. Some leave little or no trace, others make a small impact and then just vanish into the ether when their owners find the work a little too taxing.
During our day to day operations, we come across these companies regularly. They mystery shop us almost weekly to find what we are offering that they aren't (its amazing how many follow our consultation procedures almost word for word!) how much we charge and what we're doing right that they aren't.
Surfing the web, its almost impossible to decide who to avoid and who to talk to based on websites alone (even the most shambolic company can have an impressive web presence) and it also now seems to be the norm for 'middle men' to promote themselves as your local PI, even when they are based hundreds of miles away and simply farm your job out to whoever is available.
One example of this can be seen by doing a simple search for our area. The words Private Investigator Milton Keynes when typed into Google should give you results for, well, private investigators in Milton Keynes right?! Wrong! The first two companies to appear in the list are these dreaded middle men, farming out your jobs to local agencies you haven't heard of and charging you twice as much for the privilege. Try it, click here and have a look
So, how do you know who to call and who to choose? Here's a quick checklist to help:
Does their web address contain which ever city you happen to type in? i.e http://p************r-milton-keynes.co.uk/? Chances are this is a middle man registering domain names country wide to try and corner the market. You will pay well over the odds and wont actually know who is running your operation
Do they answer the phone with their company name?
No? That's because they are answering calls from all over the country from many different websites and cant risk letting you find out. Try asking them who they are when they answer - they wont tell you!
Do they answer the phone at all?
Are they there when they say they are or are they simply running a part time business and working full time during the day
Are they considerably more expensive or cheaper than other companies you have phoned? It is generally accepted that surveillance costs around £45 to £55 per hour, give or take a little either way. If a company are charging something hugely different to this - why?
Are they a cash only (or bank transfer) Agency?
A modern professional company should have the facility to accept your payment by debit or credit card, and that payment should go into a corporate bank account. If someone insists you pay by cash or bank transfer, move on.
If you phone up a PI Agency and ask how much and investigation will cost, a good agency wont be able to tell you. That is because a good agency will take time to find out what you need and tailor a solution to you. If they don't take the time to get to know your situation, how can they possibly expect to be able to help you?
This is really a bit of a no brainer - in which ever industry you are spending money, you should be treated with respect and courtesy. If the call starts out badly and the Agent is rude or short with you on the phone, would you really trust them to look after you? (You might think this is a bit of a given, but we recently spoke to a competitor who almost shouted at one of our clients on the phone when he asked for a quote...Test them out: you can find them on Google in the first 5 companies to appear here!)
How long have they been in business?
This can be a tricky area as all companies were new once. That said, do you really want to be their test case or would you rather work with a company that have already proved themselves?
Are they happy to come and see you?
Are you given the name and direct dial number of the lead Agent looking after your case?
How will you know who to contact with vital information while your case is running? If you cant even get a name of someone to speak to, how can they look after you?
Can you find details of their company on the web, other than their website?
A good Private Investigator will have strong links to the community and will have had their work featured in the press over the years. Take a look at Black Cat in the news here and see how many people we have helped!
Or, simply call any of the team at Black Cat Investigations and we can show you how its done!