When I first began ghost hunting and paranormal investigating, the only way to educate myself was through reading the books that were available on the subject. After a couple of years, courses became available, and I took them. Since I knew absolutely nothing going into the field, I had to lead by example. I followed the “rules” set down by some of the “pioneers” in the fields. But not long after being in the field for a while, I began to ask myself, “Who made these rules, and why do we have them?” but more importantly, “Why are we following them?” As of late, I also asked myself “Isn’t it time that the rules change?”
When it was just my friends and me going out on a ghost hunting weekend, following the rules was fine. As we progressed with our skills and began providing services to clients in their homes and businesses, I still applied those same rules. Lately, I’ve asked myself, “Isn’t it time to change the rules, or at least bend them? Or is it time to just create some new ones? Or even yet, do we even need rules for certain things to begin with?”
I’ve always said that, “Charging the client for an investigation is like a priest charging for confession.” No disrespect meant to the Catholic Church, but in a round-about way, don’t priests charge for confession? Every Sunday and Wednesday – sometimes twice on each of those days – the collection plate is passed around. People tithe a third of their incomes to support the men and women who preach, minister and save their souls and keep everyday people on the “right path” by following the rules. They are providing a service to a “client”. They use the “tools” at their disposal and their hard-earned educations to minister to these people.
I came to the realization the other day that I am providing a service to our clients that not only entails several thousand dollars worth of equipment that was paid for mostly out of my own hard-earned dollars and pocket, but I also bring nearly 15 years of experience to the table as well. I looked around my office at all the certifications, degrees and diplomas I have and thought about how much money, time and effort it took to earn those, too. It was then that I realized that not charging clients may not be such a good thing. Before you go getting on your soap box and telling me why I still should not be charging clients, let me stand on mine a little longer.
Like a priest, I minister to my clients, educate them and spend hours upon hours doing research into their family life, psychology and sometimes even medical history. While my bible is a camera, my communion wafers are a laptop and my wine is an EMF meter, I am providing a service to people and get a similar response from many clients once I have finished my job. Now don’t think I am saving someone’s soul, but, the opposite side of the coin is that whether directly or indirectly through the work I have done over the years, I have saved many marriages, jobs, minds and financial situations.
I’m not saying that I should charge some ridiculous set fee of $1200.00 for a 4-6 hour long investigation, but like most clients, I work from day to day and live paycheck to paycheck. Why am I expected to give a service for free?
If they got out of bed on a given day and were asked to load heavy equipment cases into their personal vehicle, drive sometimes 2-4 hours, work for 4-8 hours, and then either drive back home or pay for a hotel room, only to take up to 50-100 more hours of going over collected evidence and doing background research on the location, not to mention taking on the expense of printing out reports, burning CD’s and DVD’s, long distance phone calls and mailing all of it to the client – don’t you think they would prefer to stay in bed that day?
I do the research because I enjoy it. I am looking for answers to age-old questions and I help people. When I worked in the veterinary field, I enjoyed the work, looked for answers and helped people and animals. I also got a nice paycheck when I was done. If you were to hire a roofer, plumber or electrician, wouldn’t you first want to know that they had the experience, and secondly, that they were educated and hopefully certified?
Remember, too, that you always get what you pay for. If you hire some guy with a sign on the side of the road that reads, “will work for food.” you’ll more than likely still have a leaky roof when he’s all done with it, but he’ll have a full belly and move onto the next “client.”
However, if you hire a reputable company that has been in business for a while, you can contact the previous clients for references, verify that they are certified to do the work, and you can be sure that they have the experience, proper tools, and, of course, the knowledge to do the job correctly. So, ask yourself, which one would you hire?
There are many, many rules in the field of the paranormal that I follow and still strongly agree with, such as, don’t go into a location without permission to be there, don’t use any equipment unless you are properly trained to use it, and cases involving children always take priority. So, who made this rule that we aren’t allowed to charge clients for investigations? More importantly, why do we follow it and is it time to change this rule? I’m thinking the simple answer is, “Yes.”
Editor’s Note: Although this is a subject best left to the discretion of the Paranormal Research Team, it does NOT reflect the belief of the Dimension Zone, The Journal of Anomalous Science, the DZ Nucleus, nor World Nexus Publications. As we understand there may be times when it is necessary (expense reimbursement, fuel charges, toll roads, hotel stays, etc.), but as normal practice…it is therefore our belief, for the “Buyer BEWARE!”