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Interview with Mark Robbins
Detective Agency UK Based in Surbiton Surrey

(Conducted and written by C. Garner for Rainbow promotions Ltd)


Mark’s thoughts about the no trace no fee culture within the people locations and tracing industry.

(CG) “Are the days of no trace no fee gone?”

(MR) “I would say yes, long long long long long gone. But it does sound good doesn’t it? , like you can’t lose? Like, if they don’t find them I won’t have to pay? “

(CG) “Sounds just like that”

(MR) “Well, think twice. With the age of the Internet and public searches that are all too easy to find basic listed information so bulk or skip tracing can now be done by anyone with no experience of tracing or investigations, all you need is common sense. And, in my experience this is all no trace no fee can offer.”

(CG) “So who still does tracing on a no find no fee?”

(MR)  “There are some offices of skip tracers, who usually hire on a commission pay basis. This type of skip tracing, in our experience, often ends with little or no efforts clarifying the trace details are in date or even the correct person. This is a story our agents here time and time again. Staff with minimal training will try and run as many traces as possible every day, spend no more than 10- 30 minutes on each case.”

          “Bulk tracers spend no more than 10 - 30 minutes on each case”



(CG) “Really, only 30 Minutes. So how can they spend such a short time on each case?”

(MR) “Well, they want positive hits with little or no expenditure, remember no trace no fee, so they don’t want to waste time on difficult cases or cases that may incur search costs. So, odds are, the more you do the more likely you are to find a positive, nice an easy location, it’s a numbers game really. Back in the 1990’s we called this creaming the work. In other words taking out all the easy cases, you know what I mean, the ones where they still lived at the same address or are on the voter’s roll nearby, all the easy ones or the cream of the crop.”

(CG) “So, as I’ve seen them online, how can they really offer a no trace no fee service?”

(MR)  “Well, (long pause) they can’t, well, in broad terms they can’t! They can’t offer thorough competent professional investigations.
Bulk tracing or skip tracers will usually go about  a case in one of two ways, remember these are, in most cases, skip tracers doing 20 plus cases a day, and probably earning around 20-50% of the location fee. So that could be £20-£40ish per positive trace, no trace no pay! So, as I said, they don’t want to spend time looking at a case which they think has little chance of getting. Who can blame them really they’d be working for nothing.


                                      "no trace no pay!"




 So it needs to be a numbers game, getting as much work as possible, running them all through phone-book and voters data and other freely available datasets. This gives a very low success rate, around 20%.  But you can make living!

Or again, large volume tracing, running the same again, through phonebook data, voter’s maybe appointment data, spend about  20 minutes on each case, if that, and return positive location results on the first match that comes up, even if it’s very questionable, also known in the business as WRONG!

And clients may find no further
searches of occupancy are done, at all, well in my experience it isn’t, it can’t be! (Laughing) the amount of times I hear “the name at the address is right but I don’t think it’s them” well I hear it too often.

Doing it this way gives loads of inaccurate or out of date information; and I’m sure you can imagine where you go from there. But Hey, I’m not saying they never work; as they do, they can be very useful when dealing with large amounts of bulk trace on debtors. But even these need secondary clarifications before any further steps are taken. Look, just be weary, many Tracing agencies offer a very poor stance when it comes to spending real time looking and actually investigating a case if there’s a chance they could be working for nothing.

An then, well, if it’s wrong, trying to get your money back? Good luck.”

(CG) “Why”

(MR) “I don’t want to say too much about that, I mean there are lots of online bulk tracing agencies that do offer, good cost effective services.”

(CG) “Ok, phone book and the voter’s roll.  How I would I do that?”

(MR) “Simple voter and phone book checks are easy and free online. Most people, they’ve done the internet thing and the phone book thing, they need a
professional search, using systems that can cross reference all this data as well have a real expert spend a decent amount of time researching the person, who they live with, where they may work, and most importantly where they now live.

That’s the real difference we offer, a professional search by a professional people locations expert. But it will take a little time and incur a small, modest cost to get that ball rolling.

(CG) “How much is it now?”

(MR) “Well, at the moment, its £89.00"

(CG) “Not too steep is it?”

(MR)  “About the same as a locksmith or plumber call out fee. The instigation or admin fee always ensures a client that; a competent expert is looking at the case in detail. We don’t simply run data; our agents can take weeks or even months looking at difficult or minimum known data cases, although we usually ask, initially, for seven business days to complete the case.  To be honest most are done in around 3 working days. Like I said we are the professional people location experts, with over 20 years’ experience.”

(CG) “Thank you, Mark Robbins from BASE Detective Agency Surrey