In the last week, it has come to light that the group/company “Really Haunted” has taken money from customers for sponsored events at paranormal locations and subsequently cancelled those events and kept the money (I have not heard if they have issued any refunds as they should). Nevertheless, this brings up a very good point of warning for those that want to test the waters of checking out a “haunted” location.
For many, seeing a company like this offering an opportunity to “do an investigation” seems like a great deal. After all, most of the time a person can gain access to one of these locations for $50-100. That sounds like a pretty good deal. It’s not too expensive and you think you’ll get to experience what you see on TV. The truth is, it will be nothing like you see on TV and it will be even further away from what an actual investigation is like. We’ll break down a couple areas and reasons why such things do fall into that too good to be true category.
First, let’s look at the cost. As stated above, you can join in the fun for roughly $75-100 a person. Sounds great, right? However, many of these locations only cost $200-300 a night. The two locations that this company had reserved will cost a team $150 a night and $200 a night. Our most common place to investigate runs $200 a night for up to 5 people and $40 per person over 5. For that $200, you get a guided tour of the location before you get the entire place to yourselves. Much better pricing to book the location for yourself and a lot less people to be in the building with. Which leads us to…
People. The more people you have in a location, the greater chance you have for contamination as well as people being there as more of a “I can say that I stayed in such-and-such for the night” opportunity than being there for the actual investigation. Some of these sponsored events have 50+ people running around. Do you really think that you’re going to be able to catch any voices or get any other activity? It’s hard enough when a place is completely quiet. After all, if you had 50+ people coming into your home, how friendly would you be?
But I’ve never investigated before. I don’t have any equipment. Neither did we the first night we went out. We had a Canon camera that shot photos and video, an audio recorder and I believe a K2 – which is not necessary. If you have a camera, that is a big plus. An audio recorder will generally run you in the $40-60 range. You don’t need anything overly fancy, just something that will pick up any audio that you may come across that your own hearing will not detect (or in some cases, you will hear it also). Most of the equipment that you see on TV is not necessary. When it comes to legitimate proof, audio and visual are the best forms as they are considered more conclusive.
Most of the other equipment that you see on TV are used to detect electro-magnetic fields. Did you know that you have your own electro-magnetic field? Many places have electricity running through their power lines which can also trip many devices. Anything beyond audio and visual evidence (hearing voices or seeing a figure of some sort) should be considered secondary. We’ll cover this a bit more in detail down the road.
If you’re more concerned with not knowing what you are doing, no one really does on their first night. Best rule of thumb, be respectful and just talk to the spirits. They were once people. Treat them that way and you should be fine. Remember, too, that you may go the entire night and not get a single bit of evidence. When you watch the shows on TV, they are generally at those locations for multiple days/nights and even they rarely get more than a couple EVPs or a REM pod hit.
And if you’re still a little nervous about being in a haunted location by yourself, most locations either have a paranormal team that calls it “home” or the owners will know of groups in the area that may be able to help. Whether they come in with you for a couple hours until you’re comfortable or some may even stay the entire night to guide you along the way. All you need to do is ask and there are usually a lot of answers to be found.
Where does my money go? This might be my biggest sticking point when it comes to these groups. I don’t know where my money is going if I were to join in. If I book an overnight with the owner of the location itself, I know that they are getting 100% of my money. These others groups? Who knows. While I’m sure that the location gets a certain percentage (why would they let a group in for free, after all), I doubt that they get all that much. The hosting sponsor gets the lion’s share of the loot and then they move on to their next location. I would rather support the location itself than some group coming in.
In closing, you need to do your due diligence. We’d all love to think that everyone is honest and that every deal is a good one, but that’s sadly not the case. If you’ve never heard of the group hosting an event, do some research. Check if they have a website that doesn’t look like they put it up that same morning. How many likes does their Facebook page have? Do they have a Facebook page? In some cases, you should be able to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any reviews exist there. I just did a quick search on the above-mentioned Really Haunted Events and the only 3 reviews are of people who paid this company money only to have the event cancelled and no money refunded. How many others had this happen without reporting it?
This isn’t to say that anyone not on the BBB site is a scammer, either. This is provided as a resource and example of a way you can protect yourself.
But more than the money aspect, you want to be able to have the experience that you are paying for. You don’t want a bunch of people making little noises and having your “guides” tell you that it’s the spirits in the building trying to communicate (Yes, that did actually happen at an event at one of the local locations). If you’re really in it for the right reasons, you don’t want anything to cheapen the experience. There’s enough of that in October and for a much lower ticket price.