Over the past 6 months I have had several clients employ our services after first hiring another local company. I will not name the company, but I have had too many clients calling and complaining about the high cost, poor service, and the way they were treated by this company. One bad egg makes it difficult for all of the good ones. I want to cover again what you need to consider when deciding to hire the services of a private investigator. First make sure the company you call is local and licensed in Georgia. There are several companies that advertise on the web and it appears they are located in Georgia, but they are not. And they are NOT licensed in Georgia. Normally when you call them they talk and leave you with that impression, but as soon as you tell them you want to hire them, they get your details and then they call a licensed PI in Georgia and have them work the case for them at a very reduced rate. I have experienced where these companies will charge approximately $150 per hour and then pay the sub contractor in GA about $50 per hour. You will received a report with the company letter head that you first called, having no idea someone else worked the case.
The next thing you need to consider is doing your due diligence. You absolutely have to do your research on the company/investigator that you are considering hiring to work for you. There are a few places you can go to and find out a lot of information about the company. The first place is the Secretary of State web site http://sos.ga.gov/ Then go to the licensing section and look under Private Detective Agency. Search and see if they are currently licensed. Then look and see if they have had any complaints filed against them and if the State Board took any action against them. Next go to a web site http://www.ripoffreport.com/ and enter the company name and/or the owner of the company and see if anything comes up. You will be surprised at what you may find. Ask the owner or whoever you speak with for them to provide you with some references. The company should be able to provide names of attorneys they have done work for or worked with. We have developed numerous attorney contacts over the years and are very willing to give you several names to contact. We will not just give you 1 or 2 but as many as you want. Another place you should check before making a decision is the courthouse in the county where the company is located. Most of the metro counties are online and you can check in just a few minutes. Go to the State or Superior Court website and check for Civil cases under the company name and/or owners name. See how many times they have had cases filed against them and how many times they have filed cases against their former clients.
You should consider the investigator's background and experience. Just because someone you talk to over the phone or meet in person talk a "good game", that does not mean that is the person that is going to be conducting the investigation or surveillance. They may tell you that they will be supervising the investigation, but what that means they will be supervising from their office. With Southern Professional Investigations, you are talking and meeting with the investigators that will be doing the investigation.
A red flag should go up, when you hear the investigator start pressing you for money. If their emphasis is on the retainer and getting you to sign the contract, BE VERY CAUTIOUS!!!!! I am not saying that an investigator/company should not ask you for payment, I'm saying that it should not be their main focus. The focus should be on you and what you need done during the investigation. I just finished an investigation for a client that paid another company $8,000 for 12 days of surveillance on her husband and had very little to show for it. They provided her a very nice "packaged report" with pictures of her husband driving down the road. I asked the client what a picture proves of her husband driving his car down the road by himself? All it proves is that he was by himself and he can drive and the investigator was following him. Other than that it wasn't worth the $150 per hour the client was charged. In addition to the money, PLEASE READ THE CONTRACT!!! In Infidelity cases, the spouse is very upset most of the time and just wants the investigator to catch their cheating spouse. They are so upset they just sign the contract without even looking at it. Some companies have a NON REFUNDABLE retainer clause in the contract. If you sign the contract and 2 hours later you change your mind, sorry you are out the retainer. Almost all PI companies will require you to pay a retainer before the work begins. Most companies will charge from $1,000 to $2,500. That is reasonable. Just make sure if they don't use it all that you will be refunded the balance. Also make sure the contract spells out what you want and don't want done. In one case, the client told the company if her husband traveled down a certain highway in a certain direction she knew where he was going and he did not need to be followed. The investigator followed the husband anyway, and on top of that there were two investigators and the client was charged by the hour for both of them and the mileage, even after telling them not to follow him if he went into this area. I know what you are thinking, I WOULD NOT HAVE PAID IT. However the contract was worded in a way the client did not have a choice or they would have ended up in a civil suit in court. If you pay by credit card, make sure that the retainer is the only charge authorized by you to be put on the card. Make sure the contract states that any additional charges have to be approved in advance by email or text by you for another charge to your card. If not, then you are allowing the company to continue charging your card as they deem necessary. Trust me, it has happened and is still happening.
We hope this information will be beneficial to you as a potential client of ours or another company if you choose them.