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June 9, 2016

A comprehensive guide to Notary Pricing

It’s been a long time since I have written an article on pricing, so I feel it is high time! Most Notaries want to have a fixed fee and make tons of money. This is not always possible. The Notary market is a market with lots of little ups and down that a smart Notary needs to constantly adjust to. It’s smarter to have systems and formulas worked out ahead of time so you know how to react to these fluctuations.

There are fast days and slow days, monthly highs and lows, as well as changes in the market that happen over the years. There are also changes in who is competing with you in your area at a particular time. The key is to be flexible and learn how to charge accordingly. Here is how I would set my prices.

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1. Time Involved
A smart Notary should charge based on how much time is spent. Notary jobs during rush hour involve more time. Jobs that involve printing more than the average amount of pages should be billed accordingly. Smart Notaries ask who the Lender or Bank is. This is because the name of the Lender can determine with some accuracy the size of the package. Signing companies lie about package sizes which is why smart Notaries ask. Additionally, there are many loan types and some require more time. Refinances are faster, while Construction Loans are longer but have more professional and businesslike signers. Reverse Mortgages, VA, and FHA take more time. Piggy Backs are double signings and have double the pages and double the Notary work. Time for doing a signing is based on these components:

Negotiating Time — Some companies are easy and pleasant to deal with. If it is fast getting assignments faxed or emailed to you and easy to confirm with the borrower, take notes of that time. It can differ from company to company.

Printing Time — Notaries should charge by the page for e-documents. Printing takes time, and often involves waiting for documents to be ready which can be hours if you work with irresponsible companies.

Driving Time –Factor in how much time it takes to get from point A to B. Keep notes so you’ll know how to charge for jobs to particular cities in the future.

Signing time — Some Lenders have loans that get signed quickly. Some Lenders answer the phone and get situations handled quickly while others don’t.

Loan Type Influences Time Spent — VA & FHA signings are just plain longer. Reverse Mortgages are for the elderly who are less businesslike and might need a lot more time to sign. Power of Attorney signings are the most likely not to fund, so take that into consideration. Piggy Back loans are double the signatures and double the notarizations. But, once everyone has sat down and you have your journal out, it goes quickly.

Fax Back Time — Fax Backs are a pain in the rear, but they serve a purpose. Signing companies can hire newbies and get away with it, because the signing company can check your work before it gets sent back to Title. They no longer need experienced Notaries. However, fax backs take time, so if your time is worth something, charge for each page faxed back.

Cancellation Rate Time Waste — Factor cancellation rate and billing time into the price.

Billing Time — Some companies pay on the first request while others require hounding.

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2. Expenses Itemized

Printing Documents — is not only time consuming but costs money. You are using up paper, toner, cartridges, ink, and using up your time to restock what you used up. Charge accordingly.

Car Expenses — Driving a car is not free. Tires wear down, brakes wear out, plus you need to change the oil, filters, shocks, transmission, and more. So, in addition to time, try to work a mileage fee into your pricing in addition to charging for time.

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3. Track Record & Risk of Not Getting Paid

Late Documents — If the signing company or title company was late getting your edocuments in the past, make a note of that. Keep detailed records of each company. Record how fast they paid you on each job. Recalculate their average days to payment every month just to keep records updated. Also, keep records for how late they are sending edocuments or how incompetent they are about keeping their borrowers informed. If you are dealing with a flake, charge more.

Unknown PartiesIf you accept a job from an unknown lender, or one with a bad reputation online, you might charge more, or make them pay up front. You should always charge extra when there is any type of risk involved. . These signings assume risk. Some of the risk is spending an unpredictable amount of time or not getting paid at all.

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4. Payment Terms
If a Lender will only pay you if the loan funds, you need to charge more. Some Lenders will not pay your printing fee if the job gets cancelled, so make sure you know what the terms of the agreement are. Some will pay part of a travel fee if the job gets cancelled mid-way. However, the signing company booked your time, and you can’t give your leftover time to some other company at the last minute just because they needed to cancel. You have to commit your time to them, but do you make companies commit to paying you?

I personally feel that Notaries should set their own terms. You are not a bank, and it is not your job to gamble on whether or not a loan funds. You should be paid before, or within 72 hours of a signing in my opinion. But, you can make your own terms. Beginners have to accept the terms dictated to them, but old pros can make their own terms and get away with it. However, if you do accept terms that limit your ability to guarantee payment, charge a lot more.

Recommended Reading:
Issues to consider when creating a signing agent services contract
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2593

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5. Travel Fees for Non Loan Signing Work
Most Notaries charge $25 to $50 travel fee, and more if it is for jails or hospitals. You also charge by the signature on top of the travel fee. Charge based on how valuable your time is worth. If you are desperate for work, charge less. If your time is limited, charge more. If you have lots of other things to do, you have less supply of time so you can charge more — this is a strategy to consider — so stay busy my friends.

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6. Jails & Hospital Notary Jobs
Charge more for jails and hospitals because these are the jobs where there is a lot more that can go wrong. You also will not be dealing with the cream of the crop. You can get stood up at a jail. Inmates do not have ID and your credible witness or ID carrier might not show up. ID’s might be expired. Hospital patients are often drugged making it impossible to notarize them. Half of them can’t even hold a pen, so how can they possibly sign? Consider this when deciding upon your jail & hospital travel fees which should be $60 to $150 depending on how greedy you are! Some Notaries are afraid to go to jails, but it is safe, and that is where you can make money fast. Just make sure you have them read their ID to you over the phone including expiration date or you will be very sorry. Also, get your travel fee in cash at the door BEFORE you see the signer. They might not be available or might not want to sign! Be prepared!

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7. General Pricing Models
Keep in mind that a few years ago, Notaries could get paid a lot more. With Snapdocs and lower demand, companies can pay a lot less and get away with it.

Situations where you charge more or less
(1) Charge less during the first 17 days of the month. It is slower, and you have more time.
(2) Charge more during the end of the month. Additionally, you can charge more if you schedule a job several days in advance because you might miss out on a better offer. Additionally, jobs scheduled in advance in my day had a 25% cancellation rate which will wreak havoc on your schedule.
(3) Charge less if you are having a slow day and someone needs a last minute signing. If you are doing nothing, why not sell that time.
(4) eSignings have less physical pages, but often take longer because the signer and their spouse need to take turns looking at the computer screen not to mention the chance of delays due to technical issues.
(5) Charge extra if there are three or more signers on a loan.
(6) Charge more if the company cancels a lot
(7) Charge less if a company has a good track record and is easy and fast to deal with — or pleasant!
(8.) Charge more if there are lots of signatures to notarize.

Pricing Recommendations For Beginners. 0-500 signings

Basic Signing $60-$80
E-Documents: $10-$25 extra per double set or 7 cents per page
Pickups: $25 extra
Dropoffs: $20 extra — there is less waiting time during dropoffs
Reverse Mortgages: $100
Piggy Backs: $100
Regular Notary Work Travel Fee: $30 if within 30 minutes
Jail & Hospitals: $50

Pricing Recommendations for Intermediates. 500-3000 signings
Basic Signing: $80-$120; E-Documents: $20-$40 or 10 cents per page; Pickups: $30 extra; Dropoffs: $25 extra; Reverse Mortgages: $125; Piggy Backs: $125; Regular Travel Fee: $40 if within 30 miles; Jails & Hospitals: $70

When to charge in advance
You are not a bank and you should not offer endless credit to any signing company. Some of them will string you along and not pay you or play games with payments making it unclear which job they are paying for. Decide in advance how much credit to give each company and keep records. If you have a six month track record with a company and they pay you on time, you might offer them credit for six jobs. For all others, do one or two jobs, but don’t do any more until you get paid. It is not a bad idea to charge up front with Paypal, but few companies will pay a beginner up front. Ken, our seasoned Notary always gets paid up front, but he is a pro.

(1) New Companies — do one job, but don’t do a second until you get paid for the first unless they have a stellar record for payment on the forums.
(2) Some Track Record — do two jobs, but don’t do a third until you get paid for the first.
(3) Good Track Record — Watch out: good companies can turn bad if they experience financial difficulties or labor shortages. Do not offer credit for more than six jobs no matter what. A good track record should be over at least six months.

Don’t complain
There are many Notaries who have gone out of business because there is too much competition for too few jobs. If you are getting paid, getting experience, and staying afloat, you are ahead of the game. Many Notaries have this idea that they should get $125 per signing ever time. Unfortunately, it no longer works like this. So, take what you can get and just do your best! If you get more experience, you will be worth more in the long run. Additionally, the market could have an upswing at any time, so keep a positive thought.

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April 11, 2016

Minimum wage for Notaries

I was thinking about this yesterday. Notaries would be much more happy if there was some sort of a minimum wage. I remember Ben Carson claimed that there should be a separate minimum wage for people fresh out of high school or college otherwise they might never get hired. Personally, I think the government should stay out of wage setting as it creates artificial market situations which might make it too expensive to do business. If someone is sluggish, minimum wage might be more than they merit. And when you combine minimum wage with taxes, insurance, unemployment, and the rest, it might lead many to outsource their work overseas!

Our average Notary averages $105 per signing.
But, you can’t outsource Notary work overseas — at least not yet. Notaries would feel like they were being treated better if they were paid a fair wage. On the other hand, Notaries surveyed half a year ago were averaging about $105 per signing which is not bad at all. Just because you get bad offers doesn’t mean that you actually do signings for $60. It is sort of like looking at the asking prices for houses on the market. The asking price and the sale price are often very different and will give you a distorted view of the market.

Do beginners have merit?
In any case, I feel that beginner Notaries with no experience and no 123notary certification do not merit a minimum wage. Most of the Notaries I test by phone do not know their documents, signing terminology and additionally do even worse when I ask them simple Notary questions. The fact is that we have a lot of unqualified people out there who feel they are worth a lot. In addition to minimum wage for Notaries, I feel there should be minimum standards as well. I feel that our new 30 point test should be the standard, and a particular test result such as a 14 or 15 should be the minimum to be hired at all.

What should qualified Notaries make?
A Notary who has signed 400 loans (and an prove it with journals) and who has passed the 30 point test with an adequate score in my opinion is entitled to some sort of standardized minimum wage. I feel that

$60 per signing of 5-99 pages
$65 per signing of 100-125 pages
$70 per signing of 126-150 pages
$80 per signing of 150+ pages
10 cents per page for printing
50 cents per page for fax backs

I feel that a Notary with good test scores who has signed 4000 or more loans deserves a lot more than this, but the market can determine their value. Just because you test well, doesn’t mean you show up on time, well dressed and with a good attitude.

What do you think a fair minimum wage for qualified Notaries should be? What about for not so qualified Notaries?

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The “Met my fee” list of signing companies
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January 18, 2016

VA signings for $85? With 200 pages? No Thanks!

As a blog writer, I need to come up with ideas for interesting blog articles. So, I often go to Linked In and see what was popular there. I was visiting last night and saw that someone was offered a VA loan for $85. But, the package had about 200 pages! As new Notaries, you need to understand that not all packages are alike. Some Lenders have short packages while others have longer ones. Some Lenders have their documents ready on time while others don’t. Additionally, there are different types of loans — some are longer and more time consuming than others.

Large Loan Packages
VA loans are normally a lot longer than regular Refinances. FHA loans are longer and more complicated too. Additionally, Reverse Mortgages are longer and take longer partly because the signers are normally elderly. VA loans are for Veterans, and they might tell you some war stories about getting ambushed by the Taliban, but they are probably middle aged and able to sign in a moderate amount of time. But, the packages are long and take a long time.

What to Charge?
The average Notary on 123notary makes about $105 per signing (interesting stat.) If your standard fee is $100, you need to charge more if it is going to be a slow signing or a signing with an above average number of pages. You will be using your printer more, and spending more time at the signing. So, how much more should you charge? In my experience, more pages won’t take you that much more time. It will cost you a little toner and paper, but an additional fifty pages might only take you an additional twenty minutes assuming the signer is not a slow poke. What does take time includes: sluggish signers who read every word, elderly people who can barely function, issues with the loan involving long calls to the Lender, multiple signers who don’t always show up on time, problems with the ID.

Before You Accept the Job
My suggestion is to call the borrower and ask if they will be able to sign within a sixty or seventy-five minute window for a longer package. If they say no, then you might consider charging more or cancelling the signing. If you have the luxury to call the borrowers before you accept a job, you can have a lot more flexibility. You should ideally charge for time, and NOT based on the length of the package. I signed a 200 page construction loan in 25 minutes because the borrower was a professional and had been through the process dozens of times. His time was worth a lot and he didn’t waste a minute. He was like an assembly line.

As a General Rule
For most Notaries on 123notary, I would recommend charging $115 or $120 for VA signings and Reverse Mortgages. If you are very experienced with more than 5000 loans signed, then add another $25-$50 to that figure. Notaries should not try to charge too much unless they are so popular that they simply have to turn down good offers daily. Try to be reasonable and accommodating while you earn some notches in your belt! But, $85 is just too low unless you are a complete beginner!

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Signing services take a portion of the notary fee
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November 16, 2015

Should travel fees be flat?

Should anything be flat in the world of pricing?

Any notary who has a flat travel fee doesn’t understand that their time is not for free. Sure it is easier to have a flat notary travel fee, but what if a job is scheduled during rush hour, or is far away? You’ll spend all day long for a small travel fee. Keep in mind that most notaries on 123notary are loan signing agents and don’t do non-loan mobile notary work. However, if you want to do regular mobile notary work, there is cash to be made. No waiting for companies to send you checks, no invoicing, no fax backs, and no excuses!

It is easier when you have a flat travel fee for the first 20 miles, or some type of a radius. You could shorten the distance during rush hour to be more fair to yourself if you like. Or just keep it simple. I used to charge $35 travel fee and people would pay it. I learned that others would charge $50 and get it. Customers were desperate and would pay anything if you would just get there and do the job right away.

But, for longer commutes, many notaries don’t have a formula. Some have a mileage rate they stick to. Others just don’t have a plan. Mileage rates are good for highway driving, but not for in-town jobs. 30 miles in an urban area can easily take over an hour and wear down your brakes, while 50 miles on the highway can go by quickly.

In my opinion it’s easier to charge based on estimated time. Your formula will be complicated if you have separate rates based on how many miles, and then compensate if they are in a metro or on the highway, and then another adjustment if it is during rush hour. It is easier to say that the driving will take 75 minutes total for the round trip and that you will charge $50 for that. Your rates are up to you, but this is my suggestion.

Charge a fixed fee for the first 45 minutes of travel for your round trip.
Then charge extra for every additional estimated minute.
If you estimate wrong, then as my mechanic friends say, “eat it” meaning take the loss gracefully.

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June 30, 2015

Strike Three, Notary is Out – No Pay

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,NSA Pricing, Fees & Income — Tags: , , — admin @ 10:29 pm

Strike Three, Notary is Out – No Pay
It’s your turn at bat. You’re walking from the dugout and glance at the scoreboard. You notice that, even prior to reaching the batter’s box; there is one strike against you. Many notary jobs start exactly the same way. You are going to a new client to notarize “some documents”. But, you did not receive your payment in advance. Yes, there is a “strike” against you; you are in route, burning gas and using time. Perhaps you will receive your Notary fee. Order something on the internet, as most of you have; you had to pay in advance, they did not include an invoice for you to pay. So, starting with one strike against you; let’s continue to pay notary baseball.

Strike two comes when you arrive, and the client(s) are not there (yet?) or unavailable. You probably arrived 10 minutes early to the Starbucks to secure a table. Meeting a “big shot”? Well, their gatekeeper informs you they are “running behind” and offers you some coffee and asks that you “take a seat” while you wait. I once waited, with one strike against me, in the lobby for a “penthouse” person to tell lobby security to admit me. Half an hour later, “Mr. Screwya said your services will not be needed, please use the revolving door on your way out”. Ouch! If he had prepaid I would have charged him trip + waiting time. But, silly me, went on “hope”.

Strike three is the inability to make contact. You have to be careful with this one. Sometimes the client (in New York City) can be in the subway. Or, driving a car and not able to answer their phone. It is a good practice to call the contact number when you are “about” to travel to their location. Call it a confirmation call, the idea is to make sure you can reach the client. It’s also a good idea to inform them you will be making that call when you book the assignment. Let them know that if you are unable to reach them to confirm; you will not be arriving. The confirmation call also limits or eliminates “waiting on site” as you confirmed the time shortly prior to meeting.

Hmmmm, three strikes against you. You have no payment, have tried to make contact to no avail, and waited a reasonable amount of time. What to do? Well, this exact situation happened to me yesterday with a “regular” client. After half an hour (my personal maximum no contact wait time), I just left for my next assignment. I had to. Lateness of one client cannot be allowed to cause my lateness to the next scheduled appointment. My client did arrive almost an hour late and called me to proceed. As he did not call prior to being late, and did not answer the cell phone, I assessed an additional trip fee; if he wished to reschedule for the following day. He agreed.

That “trip fee” went to pay for my parking, fuel for the trip and keeping the engine in the car running to keep warm on a very cold day. Added together, those costs were about 5$, but the major portion was for my time. Yes, my time. Personally, I think my time is more valuable than any other person’s time. If you feel differently, I suggest you reflect a bit on your self image.

On the other hand; if you don’t start with one strike against you; the outlook is brighter. I have had many “cancellations”, for various reasons after receiving my fee. Generally they tell me to “keep it” and are disinterested in a discussion of prorating. I consider this fair. Travel and waiting time is equivalent to travel and processing; timewise. What never happened is a case where the affiant was unable to “make it” and subsequently made a payment. Human nature I guess. Most notaries are gentle creatures, performing a legal and necessary service. However, the loan shark’s expression, when payment is lacking and a limb must be broken; applies to us too. “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” (The payment, not the limb!).

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June 19, 2015

How much more does a 123notary certified signer make?

How much more does a 123notary certified signer make compared to a 123notary uncertified signer? The answer is roughly $8 per signing average. I hear a bunch of “buts” in the background. “But, I’m NNA certified, so I’m already certified.” Yes, but you will make more money if you have the knowledge and the show that only 123notary certification offers you. Our numbers are the proof. Not only do 123notary certified notaries get more than double the new incoming calls from our site than 123notary uncertified notaries in comparable spots, but they get paid roughly 8% more as well!

I did a poll of the notaries on our newsletter. I asked what their average signing yielded them. The answers were not always very precise and some round-about. However, I was able to crunch some numbers.

Crunching the Numbers
I crunched figures from the first 22 uncertified notaries who responded.
I crunched averages for the first 20 certified (by 123notary) notaries who responded.
I crunched numbers for 10 Elite certified notaries who responded or who I had talked to previously about fees.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but then who is.
My results are based on limited information, but enough to get a rough idea.

Average Results
The average Elite certified notary polled claimed they averaged $116 per signing
The average 123notary certified Notary polled claimed they made an average of $110 per signing.
While the average 123notary un-certified Notary polled made an average $102 per signing.

My Surprise
I was surprised that the 123 uncertified Notaries did so well. Most of them lack even the most basic of signing agent education. Most of them don’t know where to find the prepayment penalty or how to explain the APR intelligently let alone understanding the other documents. I am amazed they get paid so much!

$8 Extra per Signing Adds Up to Almost $30,000 in a Decade!
Many Notaries think that they don’t “need” our certification. However, Notaries who pass our certification test know approximately double what those who can’t or didn’t pass our certification test know. Additionally, Notaries who pass our test get double the new calls from our site, although our certification will not help you on other sites. Moreover, Notaries who pass our test get $8 extra per signing. If you do 30 signings per month for 10 years, you will make $28,800 extra as a result of having passed our certification test. So, when you ask yourself if you “need” our certification, also ask if you feel that you “need” an additional $28,800 extra over the next ten years. That can buy you almost a brand new Toyota Corolla after seven years!

$14 Extra per signing + lots more offers makes Elite a good investment
Our Elite certification is intentionally priced higher than our regular certification. We are charging $179 currently. Notaries comment on how that is expensive, but what they should be focusing on is what it can get them. Elite certified notaries have a monopoly on the market. We make it easier for them to get to the highest spot(s) on the list, and people who use 123notary vastly prefer our Elite signers as they are four times as knowledgeable (in my experience) as un-123notary certified Notaries. Getting our Elite certification will make you stand out, get lots more work, and get paid roughly 14% more for the same work! Your entire career could be changed by this one decision. We prefer if you have signed a few thousand loans before you take our Elite course, but that is up to your discretion!

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March 16, 2015

What does a Notary charge in 2015?

What does a Notary charge in 2015?
What are notary fees in 2015? What do notaries charge in 2015? Notary fees are governed by the state. Each state has their own rates, and rates can change at any time. Some states only allow 25 cents for certain types of notary acts while others allow $10 for an Acknowledged signature or a Jurat. Try getting something on the value menu at McDonalds if you only get 25 cents per notarization. Those rates must have been set in the 1700’s.

Please consult our Find a Notary page so that you can view each state’s profile on our site. Click on the name of your state, and the pricing will be accessible from that page.

http://www.123notary.com/find-a-notary-public.asp

Loan Signings
Please keep in mind that most of the notaries on our site 123notary engage in the profitable career of loan signings. A loan signing is more than just a notary act. It encompasses the supervision of an entire loan package which includes generally over one hundred pages, dozens of signatures, and generally two to ten notarizations for each signer. Prices for loan signings range from $40 to $200 depending on what is involved and how experienced the notary performing the signing is.

Bilingual Notaries
123notary has notaries who speak all types of languages ranging from Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, French, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Farsi, and more. If you need a notary who speaks a foreign language, use our language filter on the top right of search results.

Odd pricing rules for notarizations
It is fun to see the differences in state laws for notary prices. But, one example that always sticks out in my head is the Florida pricing rule for Acknolwedgments. California allows a notary public to charge for each signature notarized. However, Florida allows the notary to charge for each notary act or certificate, regardless of how many signers are involved. If four people sign a Deed in Florida, the notary completes one certificate, stamps the certificate once, and can only charge $10 for that while his Californian equivalent could charge $40 for the same work! Notary pricing is a bizarre science, so good luck reading about it!

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February 2, 2015

Trip + Notary fee = Payment

I have never, repeat never; had a dispute over my notary fees. The key is to make sure in each assignment that the notary fee is fully disclosed when agreeing to perform the service. I write this looking at a check, handed to me for not doing any notarizations. But, that is near the end of my story. Time to back up and present what happened in chronological order.

The caller is an admin assist for a company in midtown needing a notary. Caller does not know the details of what is required, just that a notary is needed. They might need one notarization or several hundred. I quote a fee of $xx for “the trip”, plus the NY State fee of $2 per signature notarized. If five people sign, and there is one notary statement naming them all; to my way of thinking I have done five notarizations with my single signature. I do have to ID check and oath all five of them. For that reason I always use the term “per signature notarized” in any fee agreement. We agree, I leave for the assignment.

Arriving ten minutes early, the receptionist tells me that the work has been already done. They had apparently scheduled a few of us; and to them “the notary race” was on! The ever-present smile behind the counter says “sorry to have troubled you”, “we have no need for your services”. I explained that the issue is not having troubled me, but that I require my fee. The office manager is called. In a calm, polite voice and manner I explain how I perceive the situation. Your admin assist made a verbal contract with me. I was required to arrive prior to a specific time, which I did; for a specific fee of $xx. It was further agreed that I would receive $2 per signature notarized. There was a clear distinction between the trip and notary fees. To earn the trip fee I had to be on time. I was on time.

The office manager initially leaned towards a “you did nothing” rejection. I noticed some signs on the wall. It was time to fire some “big guns”. I repeated there was a fee due, and if not paid I would complain to the Division of Licensing Service, and the Consumer Protection Bureau of NYC. I could tell the office manager did not want that. Two straws broke the last vestiges of resistance. I noticed you have an A+ Better Business Bureau certification. It is my intent to send a very detailed complaint to the BBB as well. Lastly, I intend to file a lawsuit against the President of your firm in Small Claims court. It will include my fee, court costs, and other expenses. We are both aware you will require an attorney to represent your corporation; I on the other hand am retired and have lots of free time to spend in a courtroom.

“Mr. Edelstein, please have a seat, it will only take five minutes to cut you a check”. The check was for the $xx trip fee and in the memo section said “transportation reimbursement”. Did I over react? I don’t think so. We had a very clearly defined two part verbal contract. The fact that, for whatever reason, they had no work for me; ONLY negates paying me the $2 per. Filing complaints and initiating lawsuits might seem extreme, but not to me. It took me a full hour in dense NYC midtown traffic to get to their office. Write it off for “good will” and hope they call me next time? Not realistic considering their tactic of playing “multiple notary race”. Actually, I would have also posted the exact truth on social media, Yelp, etc. If in your heart you feel they don’t have a “shred of a valid point” on their side; do what it takes to receive your rightful pay.

Tweets:
“But, you did nothing” the client replied after the notary wanted a travel fee for a cancelled job.

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November 24, 2014

Is $75 enough to print 2 sets of docs, notarize & do faxbacks?

In this tough economy, many notaries have simply dropped out. The remaining notaries, as tough or as proud as they portrayed themselves to be have simply had to compromise their standards for what they charge. Many signing agents with ten or more years of experience told Carmen (in confidence) that they were forced to accept $60 signings just to stay afloat. So, we won’t mention any names, but you know who you are. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Americans complain about what Indians would regard as a luxury!
Notaries complain endlessly about how unfair it is that they only get $75 for so much work with such high expenses. My take on the situation is quite different because I travel. A policeman in India makes $50 per month (not including bribes.) Can you imagine living on $50 per month? How would you rent a place to live? You would be living on top of each other twenty to a room and eating dahl and rice in small quantities once or twice per day if you were lucky. Can you imagine this type of poverty that hard working Indians endure as a matter of standard procedure? And what about the folks in the countryside who work for 20 rupees per day which is about 40 cents. That is about $12 per month. When you get these $75 assignments, just say to yourself, “I made four months of a Bihari farmworker’s salary in two hours! Yippee!”

If you are doing worse than last year, do you get upset?
It is a human tendency to be sad when you are not getting what you want, or what you used to easily get. But, this human tendency needs to be changed. We live in a changing world where what was impossible yesterday might be easy tomorrow, and vice versa. You need to just do the best you can do and not base your life today on whether it is better or worse than last year. Notaries base their fees on 123notary on what they paid last year. If I charge $150 this year, but only $120 last year, they are upset that they are paying more this year than last year. What really matters is not what happened last year, but if your investment is getting you a sufficient return.

Let’s do the math
If you get $75 for a loan signing, how much work and expense is really involved. You might spend 20 minutes on the phone on average including follow up calls, scheduling and making sure the documents arrive through whatever medium is used. You might need to drive thirty to forty-five minutes both ways to the signing. You might go through 350 pages of paper, and some toner or ink printing the documents which is not for free unless you have a gift certificate to office-max.

Your real expenses might be $4 of car expenses including gas, oil changes, and other wear and tear.
If you can purchase paper for a bulk price you might use up $3 in paper, and $2 in ink or toner (just guessing)
You might use up two hours of your time including everything: 1 hour driving; 30 minutes signing; 20 minutes on the phone; 10 minutes doing fax backs. (best case scenario)
After expenses, you get $66 profit and you can deduct your miles at the Federal mileage rate as well!
If you spent two hours total, you got $33 per hour.

On the other hand, if you spent an hour each direction, had to wait four hours for documents, and the signers read every letter of every page and asked a million questions, plus spent an hour on the phone with Fred the lender, then you might have invested seven hours which would leave you with $9 per hour which is still above minimum wage in most states.

$20/hour is not bad for someone who can just walk in off the street.
I would say in all honesty, that the average signing agent probably makes about $20 per hour for their assignments. More seasoned signing agents who command higher rates like $125 or more per signing might make $45 per hour on average. Being a relatively inexperienced signing agent is not a high skilled job like being a nuclear physicist. You do not merit $50 or more per hour unless you are the best 1% of notaries in the business or are an Attorney. All you need to be a notary signing agent is to be a resident of a state (not even a citizen in many states,) fill out an application (most states don’t even have a notary exam,) get bonded, and take a quick class in loan signing; $20 per hour is not bad for someone who can just walk in off the street and start doing loan signings. For a notary with three years of experience, they should be making more like $25-$30 per hour. That is what I made when I was doing signings with that level of experience!

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October 27, 2014

The Joy of Saying NO

A call comes in from SSS (Sleazy Signing Service) asking if I was available to do a notary job. “Yes” I reply; please tell me more. The job is “precisely” 1.3 miles from your location. It has a single “tiny” PDF. There are “about” 12 pages, and we will provide a return account number for making a UPS label, at no cost to you. I am starting to get the feeling that this is a bottom fisher, but am curious as to the location. Where is the signing to be done? They give a location in the middle of Manhattan, the absolutely worst place for traffic. Mass transit also goes there but the service is quite slow and the waits for bus or train are lengthy. The subway train is faster, but the platforms are not air conditioned and it’s like standing next to a pizza oven.

“Shall I send you a confirmation and the docs?” You can, but first you need to understand how I run my business. I am the seller of the service and set both the price and the payment terms. My fee is $150 (much more than I usually charge, but I had a bad feeling and wanted to get rid of this particular SSS); and that is payable within the next 10 minutes on my site, via PayPal, prior to my printing of the documents.

We don’t work that way, we are willing to pay $40, and you will have to include an invoice when you return the completed documents and we will send a check during our next disbursement cycle; are you interested? No. I didn’t hear you, please repeat what you said. No. Dial tone.

Of course this is an extreme example. Their offer of $40 would entail at least 2 hours of effort, and the expenditure of over a gallon of near 5$ fuel. You know the components of doing any notary work. Calls, printing, travel, record keeping, trip to UPS, dunning for peanuts (in this case), etc. What I can’t understand is the (feigned?) surprise at SSS when I declined their offer. Are there notaries out there who will jump for any lowballer offer? I sure hope not.

However, NO is not always the best answer and you can’t say that “perhaps” or “maybe” you will take the assignment. But you CAN tell them you will be accepting the assignment – AND – will be checking their reputation. If you find they have a negative or no reputation, you will be requiring that they pay “up front”. Some might never mention that process, and will choose to do their “credit checking” as soon as they can get to a computer. If they have a good history, just do the job. But, if they have a bunch of negatives – call and “require” payment in advance.

Back to the fee amount. You know what you must charge to earn a living. Isn’t it about time that you put your foot down and declined lowball offers. Some notaries are out there taking the low fees; and the SSSs in this world have endless phone time to find them. Are you fed up with finding on the HUD that the SSS received $250 and your share is $75? I work with several very honorable Signing Services that take 25$ to 50$ “off the top”. But I always receive the majority of the fee. The reason you don’t is that you have trouble saying NO. Practice, look in the mirror and repeat NO NO NO – I refuse to allow anyone to take advantage of me.

I’m sitting at my PC typing this for you. I am exceedingly happy that I do NOT have a toxic receivable of $40 to chase after putting in 2+ hours in midtown traffic. I prefer to try to influence my fellow notaries to just say NO to the lowballers. You can do it, think: NO NO NO. After you decline the first lowballer you will feel great, and will be ready to “dump” the ones that follow.

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