Surveillance: No footage, no fee, no thanks!

11th May 2012 Surveillance 2 Comments

Surveillance is a GREAT way to make a living, make no mistake about it. I love it. Do not tell anyone but i’d almost deploy on the ground for nothing. Almost.

Is there anything that I do not like about the industry? Of course there is, there are always going to be certain things that annoy you, some of which you may be able to influence, others not so but one thing I really do not like is the ‘no footage, no fee’ merchants that seem to be proliferating the circuit right now.  Why is this becoming more and more common amongst surveillance and PI companies? Does anyone think that it is it a good thing? Is it really the way that we should expect clients to pay for our services? Why has it become even a consideration amongst professional operators? Are the people that are happy to carry out this sort of work doing the industry more harm than good or are they just so confident that they will get some video that they are happy to work on this basis? Is anyone really that good?

This sort of way of doing business tends to be most common amongst the personal injury sector where footage is absolutely key. We are not arguing with this, not at all. Your clients will not see the planning and preparation that goes in to your jobs, they will not consider the time that you get up in the morning or that amount of time that you spend writing reports or editing video. Footage and good quality footage is all that they are interested in.  No footage, no fee seems to have become a big bargaining tool amongst those that are desperate to get in with the big clients who place out this sort of work. Look at it from the clients point of view, what have they got to lose? On the face of it nothing, nothing at all and potentially everything to gain……potentially. You have to ask yourself though, to what lengths will the ‘team’ will go to in order to get that all important video. Would they perhaps consider employing tactics that may draw suspicion when the case is looked at a little closer by defence council? Once you lose your credibility in this game then forget it. Pack up, go home and do something else. Would there perhaps be a case of people not doing assignments at all? I mean just not turning up at to massage the client and make them feel that they are getting incredible value for money? What else goes on when agencies take on work under this basis? In most cases the companies that work on the no footage no fee basis charge their clients and inflated fee if they achieve a success for them; I do not think that anyone would have an issue with rewarding success but you have to ask yourself to what lengths do these people go to in order to get that all important video?

Is this really in the clients best interest? Personally speaking we do not intend to go down this line of billing for personal injury cases. What we do is play fair with our clients, we do not charge an outrageous daily rate but we do charge a fee based on a professional service carried out by experienced professional surveillance operators. We are honest with our clients, if we get a poor result and it is our fault then we do not charge the client, we take it on the chin and come back again another day. If we have done all that we can in order to active a result but one has not been achieved then the client is billed. If we get a success and come in under budget then we play fair with the client and let then know. We do not play around with the reports or the timings. Honesty is the best policy. There is no doubt about this. None.

When it comes to surveillance operators we have seen it all over the last 35+ years. It is important to maintain your standards, maintain your integrity and be as motivated on day 2000 as you were on day one.

No footage not fee? Not for Argus Europe…… please do not bother asking!

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About the Author


Lateo Surveillance Ltd is an experienced Private Investigator & Surveillance company working on behalf of legal, commercial and private clients, delivering pragmatic and diligent solutions. Lateo offer a wide range of investigation Private Investigator services to compliment our specialist core Surveillance Service, obtaining covert video footage. Investigating claims validation, such as; Personal Injury Investigation, Income Protection Fraud, Serious malpractice within the workplace, for example; theft, director fraud, employee fraud, absenteeism and misappropriation of funds.

  • Mark

    12th May 2012 at 9:40 am - Reply

    I could not agree more with your comments and observations!!

    Most of these teams on the ground are under huge amounts of pressure by their (office based) management to get results. Some are reported to be using underhand tactics which I dont believe most would have even considered if there mortgage and job were not on the line on a daily basis.

    Personally, myself and many other normal people will agree the “No Win No Fee” culture has forced some genuine so called professional solicitors to use tactics which are morally wrong to get the results through the door.

    I believe “No Video No Fee” will force the same underhand tactics employed by those less scrupulous legal professionals, who, thankfully operate within a tightly regulated sector.

    Sadly and worryingly our industry is still unregulated…….. “Stand By Stand By”

  • Durham_PI

    19th May 2012 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I am aslo not a fan of this no footage no fee culture that seems to have burst on the seen over the last 5 years or so. I can see the purpose of introductory prices for new clients and competative pricing for clients that give you repeat business but the no footage thing does not do anyone any favours at all in my opinion.

    This industry need to be as transparent as possible due to the perceptions of many that those who conduct surveillance do so by any means be that foul or otherwise.

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