So you have looked over the threads and decided you would rather have someone else detail your car. Not to worry, there are many great detailers all over, but as always education is what it's about.
It's unfortunate that some people out there still try to rip you off with BS talk that you don't understand and because you don't... you assume it's worth extra money. I wanted to go over a few things to help you with that.
First off, while there are many detailers much better than I... that doesn't mean the jobs they do are always worth the money. What you are paying for are these detailers time of course, experience, amount of money they have wrapped up in their products that they usually will have 50, 100, or more of, their polishers and other machines, their energy draining halogens, the list goes on and on.
Second: A name goes a long way. You have to feel comfortable that you are leaving your Lambo, or your ****box that you love with someone. Take a picture of the mileage before you leave the car. I drive my customers cars from my driveway to the garage and back it out and that's it! It should NEVER been needed to be driven any more than that unless they have a large shop and have to move the car further.
Third: So what should I pay? Your car condition is going to determine this. Is it completely unwashed with built up grime everywhere? Is your car caked in tar from your local road? How many steps of correction will the paint need? OR, how many do you want? Keep in mind the last 1 or even 2 stages of correction will determine the gloss and removal of very fine scratches (that you will never see) that give it just that extra little bit of pop and reflection. Detailing is VERY hard work and very taxing on the lower back especially. I usually need a week to recover from a 2-3 day detail job, but I have a bad back and shoulder anyway.
Price: Most of the time you will be looking at 250.00-350.00 for an exterior correction. If you want a full 3 stages of course the prices can go up from there. Some detailers specialize in exterior work, some do all of it. Unless the inside of your car is really messed up, it's much better to thoroughly vacuum out your car, buy some decent interior detailer and just spray the inside down yourself and do that work before taking it to your detailer. For me, I many times wind up making about 10.00 an hour for what I do because it takes me longer to do it. Don't expect this from guys with 20 or 30 years of experience. Detail jobs can quickly get up to 500.00-1000.00 or more. Also keep in mind to be fair that if you have a 50k 100k, etc. dollar car... you are GOING to pay more because the detailer is risking a lot... one screw up on a high dollar car like that and he's got a lot more money coming out of his pocket than you would for him detailing your car. Higher prices in that case should be excused.
Things to look out for: Exterior correction as I said is hard work and is worth it's money. However, I know some detailers charge 100.00 for applying opti-coat. IMO this is ridiculous. I charge my customers for what it costs me to buy it and ship it here... that's it. Honestly... applying a good paste wax takes MUCH more effort than just carefully applying opti-coat and making sure there are no high spots, missed spots, etc. If this is the case... get the correction done and PM me and i'll guide you through how to apply the stuff. The only reason to add a little to the cost is the fact that if something goes wrong with the OC, it much be polished off and reapplied, but that is the responsibility of the detailer, not yours!
In the end, reputations and ego's are what make many of these guys charge more for the jobs they do, some of them are worth it and some are not.