The PI business is like a construction general contractor or other specialized service provider. You don't want to pick a lawyer, dentist, eye doctor, college, auto mechanic or even a beer because he/she/it the cheapest. You want to select based on quality and the likelihood that the professional will cure or solve your problem or get you answers. I could go into discussions on value and economic principles but I will be more direct: Never take the lowest price. We had estimates to have a deck rebuilt. All estimates but one was over $12K. I wonder why that contractor was able to do it for 33% less than the others. Ultimately we rebuilt the deck ourselves for about 20% of the average contractor cost but that is a different, it was an intense project which started and stopped many times over six months but it was rewarding and a great experience. However, what if we had hired on cost and I had failed to vet him properly. Even if I had checked one or two references it would have still been a poor decision, this contractor would have cut costs in some way or sub-contracted it out to a lesser sub. I was recently contacted by a family that had accepted a contractor. They later came up missing thousands of dollars in construction supplies and family tools. They didn't vet a contractor and check references. Perhaps everyone has a bad contractor story. I don't want you to add a bogus P.I. encounter to your tales of consumer woe. Unfortunately, I have a couple peers I consider to be rip-off artists or incompetent. Every business has its bad eggs. We are no different. Here are a few things to consider in selecting a private investigator.