Why Are Your Investigation Services Free? Start Charging.

Watching Ghost Hunters on television and wondering the whole hour what in the heck people were thinking chasing things in the dark. There are no such things as ghosts. These people are nuts. I believed that just four years ago. Week after week I would watch then go to the forums connected to the show or discussing it. It became clear that even if some of the evidence was fake or explainable other evidence was not. It was the “was not” that completely fascinated me and in 2009 I jumped in with both feet.

I absorbed as much as I could early on and like everyone in the field formed my own opinions based on everything I had researched. Among my opinions is providing investigation services free. My opinion has always been that if you are charging to investigate what will the property owner receive for their payment. Will you be able to answer all their questions? Will you be able to provide them a home free of activity? Can you catch a ghost? I felt that if I wasn’t able to provide evidence then the property owner received nothing for their payment.

Now after several years investigating I watch as a very small group of people in the paranormal community are permitted to make money while the vast majority is held to a standard that is ridiculous. That’s right I said ridiculous. If Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum can charge $100.00 per per person for a tour or these conventions can charge $40.00 per day for an opportunity to shake the hand of people who have offered little more than their next book, episode, or movie, why can’t we charge to recover the cost of our equipment and other expenses?

For those who use the argument that most people can’t afford fees for investigations I offer you this. Does Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum or any of the conventions offer you free tickets if you can’t afford it? I think we all know the answer to that. So you offer your services free to those who can not afford your service. Your costs are no different then the costs of the for profit conventions and facilities like Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Everything you do in this field has costs attached to it. Only a small handful of the people within the paranormal community are permitted to recover those costs or make a profit. Why?

Now we have people within the paranormal community buying turn of the century homes or businesses and inviting investigators to their for profit traps. Most of these places need you as investigators to build a reputation that will draw more investigators to the trap. They are charging you to advertise for their business. Posting your evidence of their trap everywhere provides them free advertising that any other business in the world would have to pay for. In 2009 this website was a social network. I actually had a popular investigator trap contact me to place an ad banner on my site. The place was charging $400.00 or more a night for a team to investigate. When I returned the email I told them what it would cost and the business (because it is a business) actually told me I should be allowing them to advertise on my site free because their business was popular with the paranormal community. What? I couldn’t help but wonder if this business owner believed that everyone in the paranormal community was dumb. I believe they do in part. I also believe that many in the field fall all over these businesses that throw them an occasional bone. I don’t like bones so I wasn’t going to be part of it. I run a business and like them I expect compensation to promote another business.

I know a team that recently paid to investigate a location new to the pay-to-play paranormal community. The property was billed as rich with activity yet offered none after spending hundreds of dollars and several hours investigating. They even slept at the residence and nothing.  This is the perfect example to offer those who tell me they would feel guilty for charging for their services. They always say they may not be able to provide any answers. That’s right you might not be able to. The appliance repairman might not be able to fix your washing machine yet he charges you $75.00 to show up to tell you that. He recovers the expenses incurred to come to your home in an attempt to repair your washer.

Why is this field any different then any other business? I believe it has to do with the very nature of the business. The paranormal field is not widely accepted by the mainstream so obviously we are not professionals. Trade businesses have education courses or apprentice programs.  There are no accredited courses for paranormal investigation, no officially sanctioned education process at all. There are a handful of certificate courses offered from a number of organizations. None of these courses will offer the professional anything they probably haven’t already learned. In many cases professionals could themselves teach an accredited course on any number of subjects. Educating yourself on a plethora of paranormal subjects should be rewarded like any other professional field.

For those who attempt to whine about who will police the unscrupulous teams I offer you this. Psychics are afforded the opportunity to charge for their service. The ones who abuse it are charged under the same laws that protect us all as consumers. So the argument that there are no standards to protect people from unscrupulous teams is simply not true. The same laws that protect us from unscrupulous plumbers, electricians, and repairmen are the same laws that would protect any property owner.

The cost of investigating is as high as any other profession. At least as an electrician you can recover your costs through the fees you charge or salary you receive. In this field we continue to pay top dollar for equipment not designed for the field, investigating places that are overly priced traps for investigators, and events that offer nearly nothing to the field. Why do we continue to do this? Have we allowed a small group of people to dictate what is moral or ethical for the entire community? Are we as dumb as I believe some of these paranormal business owners think we are?

I have seen more and more teams attempt to recover some of their costs through charging for mileage and requiring donations. Good for them. They obviously understand what I now understand. This business is not free! Nothing in this field is free! If you start charging for your services good for you. You are beginning to run a business like it was intended to be run, like the business it is.


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  1. Pearlie June 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you for speaking up! Our team travels anywhere needed by private homes and when offered a first time historical building (with known paranormal activity) we never pass it up. Yet with the high cost of gas now a days, it’s getting harder and harder for the team to continue investigating. They also go through batteries like crazy which aren’t cheap. We recoup SOME of our traveling cost (trust me it’s not much) by providing dinner and investigations, lectures, t-shirts, etc. because we never charge for investigations. All of our members have FULL time regular jobs yet investigating is our passion. Our traveling cost comes right out of our own pockets. I don’t think we’d ever charge but it’s nice that someone speaks up about WHO has the right to claim themselves the “ones who dictate what is moral or ethical for the entire community”. Bravo to you!

    • Chuck Manning June 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

       I think what you do offers much back to the community and a little to offset the cost of investigating. Good for you! The problem is that you are running a side business in an attempt to offset the costs involved in just the one. I admire your candor and I wish you all success.

  2. BlogLady June 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    Good for you for speaking out about this issue. I found the same to be true when I first started with Reiki. I believe part of the problem is that people do not wish to pay for nontraditional services, especially if they don’t fully understand what goes on. Hopefully, you will be able to start charging so you can at least support the service you provide.

  3. Thiswasdumb June 13, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Why is this field different than any other business field? Because it is not a business field. It is a research field. When has the research ended, ghosts, spirits, etc been proven to exist and the field transitioned into a business? Research is typically funded either privately or through grants. If teams cannot fund their own research or through grants and other donations, they should find another field of study. Also, how is it ethical to charge someone wanting answers to their “paranormal problems” when nothing has been concretely proven. What are you exactly charging for? Your own choice to buy equipment for your own research? What does the client (hate the term client when they are more research volunteers) get out of it? Your opinion that hasn’t been proven? This is the dumbest fucking article I have ever read. 

    • Chuck Manning June 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm

       You are obviously one of the morons that feel the need to push your morality on the rest of us. An air conditioning repairman just charged 60.00 to LOOK at the unit. Even if he didn’t repair it or refused to it was still going to cost $60 for him to look at it. Enough said simpleton.

      • Still Dumb June 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm

        An air conditioning repairman can verify whether or not an air conditioner is or is not broken. A paranormal researcher cannot verify if a place is or is not haunted. Enough said.

        • Chuck Manning June 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm

           The AC still isn’t fixed after the $60.00. So I guess enough wasn’t said.

  4. Chuck Manning June 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Interesting since proof rarely matters in court these days. If a chemical company kills a few people with a product and are sued they raise the price of their products to offset the loss. It’s how they do business. It is a business. As soon as you realize it the sooner you (as a lawyer, or so you pretend to be) will be profiting from the suits.

  5. Jason Sullivan June 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    An A/C repairman or any licensed, insured, trained, & educated professional…most likely has a proven track record in the field they are working in to merit their fee. Also they are upfront, it isn’t hidden. An A/C repairman or any licensed, insured, trained, & educated professional doesn’t show up using pseudo-scientific techniques or equipment to determine the problem. Their job isn’t to wow or entertain, they consult professionally and are determine to get to the heart of the problem. They understand that what is being said by the client might not be the real issue, there can be other contributing factors. Again…the A/C repairman or any other licensed, insured, trained, & educated professional is doing a job they have been trained to do. 

    The US Department of Education has no listings for any accredited Universities or schools for a Paranormal Education…those who claim to have Parapsychology Degrees really have Philosophy Degrees

    There are no organizations that teach the processes of paranormal investigations and research that have applied for accreditation with the US Department of Education (most if not all are nothing more than diploma mills)

    There are no divisions of Science that recognize the theories or techniques used by paranormal investigators either as a hypothesis or as proof of the afterlife 


    I say if you are educated in what you do (and can back it up), have a business license, are insured, have not created a bullshit LLC, are recognized by your peers as a leader in the field, have contributed to the paranormal sciences to gain credibility with the scientific community, pay taxes, and stay honest and away from the greed and vanity that seem to engulf this field… 
    All the power to you in having a fee for investigating and researching a haunted location. 

    But for now…don’t expect your phone to be ringing off the hook…


    Jason Sullivan

    • Chuck Manning June 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      Jason I happen to have enjoyed speaking to you at an event in Indianapolis a few years ago. I also enjoy the videos you do although I don’t agree with everything I respect your opinion and love hearing you voice it….LOL

      I agree with what you have said here. I even said as much about the education in the article. The serviceman in my example charged $60 for his time and expertise in his field. It really is that simple. He may have determined that fee based on his education but more likely it was because his competitors were charging $75. If you look at things like they really are you see that he is a businessman first and an AC repairman second. If a team looks at themselves like they truly are, a business first and investigators second, then the “weeds” we seem to love to try to eliminate from this field would simply shrivel up and die. Their expertise could not justify their service fee.

      If a homeowner feels they are being affected by paranormal activity, and see a value in a service that investigators provide, then they should be willing to pay for that expertise as well. As a homeowner you can decide, like you do with other contractors, if the teams have the expertise to justify their fee.

      You made a comment about fees not being hidden. As long as the teams were to offer a specific service for a predetermined fee (like the AC repairman) then I don’t see any hidden fees. I mean a service fee of $60 would cover fuel and batteries.

      I’m not sure what the LLC thing is all about either since the vast majority of new businesses are being created under them. Teams probably should be insured in this age of sue everybody for everything. Something most teams can’t do due to the cost.

      The phone not ringing off the hook doesn’t bother me. I would rather do two real investigations per month then to be every weekend, at increasing cost, chasing someones hope that their home is haunted.

  6. Kurt Rodda June 14, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Chuck you are out of your freaking mind. We
    are here to investigate and gather evidence. We ARE NOT!!! Here to get rid of
    fix anything. If we do find evidence of paranormal activity then council the
    client on their options that are available. The fact that these people allow us
    in their homes and business which in turn affords us the opportunity to gather evidence and conduct experiments that
    will help further our understanding of this phenomena should be payment enough. Chuck are you
    here to help these people or profit off of their fears. Chuck we did not get
    into this “business” to profit we are here to LEARN!!! So in my opinion
    Chuck it’s time you get into a different “business” maybe you could start a good old snake oil
    “business” or ponzi scheme.

    • Chuck Manning June 18, 2012 at 9:13 am

       Kurt you touched on something that I purposely left out of the article and I believe it was important enough to include in a follow-up article later. We do council people. Some council them more efficiently then others. So for that they should be able to receive a fee. How many people have you helped and things at the home or business are much better today?

       The decision to charge someone a fee for providing help, not just research as you have cleverly hidden within the real truth, is that of the team who is providing the service. It is certainly not that of the self elected moral or ethical elite within this community. You fortunately do not get to decide for me whether I charge a fee for my service.

       If your team has waivers for the property owner to sign for liability issues then you have entered into a contract with that property owner. If that contract has your team name on it, like any other letterhead, if the property owner sues you it will be you and the BUSINESS you run that is sued. The team is a business whether you want to accept that or not.

       Lastly, it is painfully obvious that you didn’t post this after doing any homework. My team does not charge a fee for it’s service within 200 miles. However, that may change in the very near future no matter what you or the self proclaimed ethics police tell me is right or wrong.

  7. mostlyghosts.com June 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I am on the fence about this. It seems that there are two types of paranormal investigations. one being legitimate research and a quest for answers to the unknown. The other is novelty and lets face it..Business. Paranormal is popular these days. There are many people who only want to have an investigation done for business purposes and could care less about contributing to the long term research of paranormal subjects. Why do you think that so many people look disappointed or even angry when they learn that their establishment could not be deemed haunted by our favorite television investigators? Look at Savannah, Ga. If it weren’t for a famous book and the reputation for being one of the most haunted cities in the country, there wouldn’t be near as much tourism and money poured into that town. There are many hotels that are allegedly haunted. However, one “deemed haunted” by a reputable paranormal investigation team could see an increase in business and exposure. Blue Moon Brewery has a sign out front now reading “As Seen On Ghost Adventures”. For these folks, charging to investigate makes sense to both parties. For other folks, It’s no different than visiting a psychic at a carnival. They may not believe, but they are willing to pay for the experience. 

    Then there are the little old women who miss their husbands or the folks with obvious mental problems. These are the types that are easily taken advantage of. This is where I have a problem. Many people who have commented here have been right about many things. There is no “proof” that there are spirits or demons swarming anyone’s house, so how can you charge for removing something that may not have existed in the first place? 

    Also, since when do investigators “remove” anything? Personally, if I wanted something that I believed to be harmful or evil removed from my home, I would call a priest..Not a ghost busting team. There is a fine line between business and fraud. This goes for many other businesses as well. 

    But if someone who is in their right mind WANTS to pay for a paranormal investigation..Then why not? I can’t see how anyone is harmed or how the paranormal community as a whole could be damaged by this. If people don’t want to pay, they will find a team willing to do it for free. If a team refuses to investigate without being paid, they may find that they have no investigations to conduct at all. I say protect the weak and gullible and let nature take it’s course with the rest. 

    • Chuck Manning June 18, 2012 at 9:20 am

       Shea you are right my friend. My suggestion is that team recover the expense of showing up to do the investigation. The fee is for time, travel, expenses only not individual fees for other stuff the team claims to be able to do. So all this holier than thou stuff in these posts is bunk and skips right over the real issue. They always try to attach the weigh of their moral argument to issues of money even when they don’t apply.

       Great points by the way. Hop off the fence and pick a side chicken…LOL

  8. Nichol A Grimes June 25, 2012 at 1:22 am

    For some, it’s not whether it’s been proven, but whether they feel it does exist. Experiencing it for themselves is proof enough. 

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