Help, Support and FAQ: Quoting on Custom Lookup Requests

Interested in quoting on a custom lookup request but not sure where to begin? Looking for advice on how much to quote for what types of research? Wondering how to get alerts for custom requests in your localities? We answer some common questions providers ask about the custom lookup request process below.

How does the custom lookup request process work?

Here are the basic steps in the process:

  1. Clients post custom lookup requests specifying the document they're looking for, a target price and a deadline for lookup completion.
  2. You browse our list of available custom requests, find one you can fulfill, and submit a quote along with a brief research proposal.
  3. The client reviews the quotes they receive and accepts the one that best fits their needs. Requests they don't accept are automatically declined. Requests expire on the deadline the client specified in their request if they don't accept any quotes by that date.
  4. Assuming they accept your a quote, the client then places your "Document Found" fee in escrow using their credit card or PayPal account.
  5. You begin work on the request. If you find the document, you upload a scanned digital image to the site for the client to download.
  6. If you're unable to find the document after a thorough search, you upload a brief "not found" report to the site for the client's research records.
  7. Depending on the outcome of the lookup, either the "document found" fee or the "not found" fee is charged to the client's credit card or PayPal account.
  8. The client rates your efforts and provides feedback on their transaction with you.

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What does the "deadline" mean for a custom lookup request?

The deadline is the date by which the client wants to receive the document they ask for in their custom request. This date helps you decide whether you can track down the document they want in the timeframe they specify. It also helps you determine an appropriate amount to quote. Additionally, if the client doesn't receive and accept a quote by the deadline, their request will expire and will no longer be open for quotes. They can choose to extend the deadline if they'd like.

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Can I submit a quote for more than the client's target price?

Yes you can. In fact, we would encourage you to if you feel the target price is unrealistically low. In such cases, if you take the time to accompany your quote with a research proposal explaining why your higher quote is appropriate, you will likely win both the respect and gratitude of potential clients.

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Do I need to quote both a "document found" and "not found" price for custom lookups?

Yes, you do. You're free to set your prices as you see fit, just as for standard lookup offerings. But our payment and fulfillment processes are structured around the two-tier price model, and it's a key component of the value we promise to lookup clients, so we do require two prices for custom lookup quotes.

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Why can't I see other providers' quotes?

We keep providers' quotes private in an attempt to minimize the potential for a "race to the bottom" in lookup pricing. This admittedly helps us, but we also think it benefits both clients (who will likely see a wider range of providers submitting quotes than would otherwise be the case) and providers (who will hopefully have greater opportunities to compete on value, instead of merely on price.)

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How can I be alerted when custom lookup requests are posted for a specific locality?

Click on the "Account" link in the upper right-hand corner of the page you're on. [If it doesn't appear, you'll need to log in to see it.] Next, click on the "Localities" tab. Using the drop-down menus under "Add a new locality to your favorites", select a locality and click on the "Save" button. Now look for the "Settings" tab. Click on it, and you should see a list of e-mail and lookup feed notification options. Make sure that the box next to "A new custom lookup request is posted for one of my favorite localities" is checked. You can choose to be alerted via Email, via Lookup Feed notifications, or via both methods.

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What do the custom lookup status codes such as "Open" and "Expired" mean?

  • "Open": This custom lookup request is currently open for quotes from providers.
  • "Accepted": The client has accepted one provider's quote; any other quotes were declined. No further quotes can be submitted.
  • "Declined": Your quote was not accepted by the client.
  • "Expired": The client's 'deadline' for this custom request has passed, and no further quotes can be submitted.

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What points should I consider as I prepare a "research proposal" for my quote?

Here are some issues we would encourage you to think about as you formulate a proposal and decide how much to quote:

  • Is it completely clear to you what the client is asking for? If not, we'd encourage you to post a message to the client asking for clarifying details before quoting.
  • Are the timeframe and target price specified by the client both realistic and fair considering the effort that will likely be involved? If not, can you suggest alternatives that may still be satisfactory to the client?
  • Once you're satisfied that the client's request is well-defined and realistic, formulate a concise, specific description of what you can provide in response. Your proposal needn't conform exactly to the request, but you should spell out any differences clearly.
  • If you will not be able to meet the client's deadline, be sure to offer an alternative deadline that you know you can meet.
  • Outline the process you'll go through and the "deliverables" that you're committing to provide for the "document found" price.
  • Mention possible negative outcomes for which you'll charge the reduced "not found" price.

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What if the client asks for something in their request which I know is not available?

In such cases, we would encourage you to post a polite message to the client pointing out why you believe that the document they've asked for does not exist or can not be retrieved. You'll obviously be doing them a huge service. You may also help establish your credibility and integrity in the process.

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My quote was accepted. Do I have to "accept" the request the way I do for regular (non-custom) ones?

No. When the client accepts your quote and authorizes payment, their lookup request is placed directly into your "Track Orders" queue with a status code of "In Progress". We skip the "accept" step for providers since you've already had a chance to review the client's request in detail before submitting a quote.

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