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September 10, 2017

Initial Notary Contact Check List

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 12:27 am

Initial Notary Contact Check List
Ring, Ring, Ring – does the sound foretell revenue, or will the caller merely function to “busy” your cell phone? Most of us are Mobile Notaries, we do not maintain a “walk in” location, and we go to our clients to earn a “travel” fee. Many callers gloss over this fact; they see the word Notary and want to go to your location. Sometimes they just ring the bell; usually to find that the Notary is “out”. More often they call, now the challenge is to determine their expectations.
Moving the Bottom Line to the Top Line – A quick way to separate the “tire kickers” from the buyers is to quickly state your minimum notary fee, prior to getting into the gory details. “My minimum Mobile Notary fee is $XX. Responses vary from “WOW, that’s a Lot” to “no problem”.

Get the data needed to formulate a Quote – The basic information is What, When and Where – there is more that you need to know; but those three are a good start. When and where are obvious – usually. I’ve been “sucker punched” with an address that sounded routine, but turned out to be the United Nations building; with very time consuming security procedures. Also be careful about the when, if it’s not soon; check for holiday traffic and stormy weather!

Ahhh, the What – There are other aspects, but the two that you really must nail are Exactly what is to be notarized, and how many notarizations are required. I ask “how many notarizations are required?” and they respond “one”. They often are responding about “how many people are being notarized” not how many notarizations are required. So, I have modified my question. I now ask “how many signatures will be notarized?”. If I have to ID 37 affiants to a single contract, to me that is 37 notarizations; even if I stamp and sign only once. Also, it’s vital to determine exactly what document is to be processed. I can’t do Wills, or copies of NY Birth Certs, and many other vital records.

By now you should have a good idea that the task is doable. They agreed to the fee, and it probably is more than the “minimum” initially mentioned. Also, you know what, when and where. So far it’s a go, but will it be a pleasant session for the notary?

More that you must find out – Are you the person I will be notarizing? Often a relative or clerical is assigned the task of “arranging” the notary. If you are not speaking to the affiant how do you know that they speak English, or some other language you are fluent with? Ask! And, of course you need to find out what the affiant has for ID. Going to a large office building? You need the company name, what floor they are on, and perhaps the room number. Want to wait in the lobby for clearance? Probably not, so ask for a pass to be called down to the lobby to be there prior to your arrival. Did you get a contact cell number that will be answered while you are in route to the appointment? You might get stuck behind a fire truck, can you reach them?

A lawyer’s time and advice are his stock in trade, said President Lincoln. I value my time too. It’s not unreasonable to ask if the affiant will be able to meet with you as scheduled. “You want me there at 4PM, will you (or the affiant) be able to meet with me at that time? It’s a fine line between being perceived as “pushy” and sitting for an hour for a base fee. I’ve told admin assistants that I cannot be late for a subsequent appointment and must leave in half an hour.


July 27, 2017

Punch your client’s ticket

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 10:44 am

PUNCH your client’s Ticket
Those of us who grew up watching Black & White TV, and carried books made of paper to class; are aware of technologies unknown to the PC / IOS / Android / Virtual Reality generation.

You are probably familiar with a hand held hole puncher. They are still used in NY State by Motor Vehicle Inspection stations. They punch out the expiration month of the sticker that goes on the windshield. Only one hole is permitted so a simple round hole will do. Other hand held punches were different. They, as used by railroads had a variety of punch out designs. EBay “hand held railroad punch” to see many.
This “ancient technology” can be used by notaries to advantage. Offer your client every 5th visit at half price. Or, perhaps free on the 10th visit – their choice. When you present your business card use a “Railroad Punch” with a unique design to punch a hole in the business card that you leave with the client. Choose a really interesting punch out design. Take care that you do not punch over your phone number; you want your client to be able to call again!

On each subsequent visit, punch an additional hole. The unique shapes available on old Railroad punches are virtually impossible to duplicate. Even with a razor blade it’s just not doable.

Why this really works. You are giving them something unique – nobody else that your client knows markets in this manner. Speaking of unique – that punched hole truly IS unique. They will keep your card just because of the punch-out!

It’s also a secure technology. A railroad ticket would be good for the lowest fare punched. Once the conductor punched a ticket, even an exact duplicate of the punch would be useless. A very simple and practical protection against raising the value of the ticket. Punching a higher value would be useless, and punching a lower value would be pointless.

Thus, your client would not be able to manipulate your business card to receive unearned freebies. Moving past the security aspect; the “collector instinct” in all of us “kicks in”. It’s just human nature to want to accumulate additional punches. Perhaps for a really big (expensive) job you punch twice?

Giving clients a freebie or discount is nothing new. What is new is the uniqueness of this approach, they have not seen it before – that makes you memorable. And, being memorable is what you want. It’s possible to take the concept to a higher level. Custom hole punchers are available, but tend to be rather expensive. I can picture a miniature notary seal, an embosser; whatever you can imagine.

Be a neat hole puncher. Client involvement in the process, cements it into their memory. Ask for the garbage can and punch out the “chad” into the garbage – not on the floor or their desk. Similar to the effect of embossing, a quality die punching leave a great impression (actually in this case – the lack of an impression). But, I digress.

Don’t get carried away with the puncher – “marking” the pages you notarize with your hole puncher is a very bad idea. Use it only on the business card you distribute. Putting in that first punch and explaining the benefits of acquiring additional punches is a great way to spend a few additional moments with your new repeat client. They will be amused and you will profit.


July 25, 2017

When you’re in a hole — stop digging

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 10:12 am

When you’re in a hole – stop digging
I’ve been with for over a decade. Looking back seems to be the same as looking forward, which is the same as looking at today. For as long as I can remember there has been griping. Not getting paid. Getting paid very slowly. Low pay. Absurd offers. The size of the packages. The lateness of the docs. And my personal favorite: the lack of signing company “loyalty” to notaries. That’s from an alternate reality for sure.

I was a Psych major. Actually I had a split major: Psych and Data Processing. I figured it would be good to learn how to deal with both people and machines. It actually worked well for me. I’ve written a few computer related blogs – based on about a quarter century in the industry. This installment will call upon the little I learned about psychology. First, a disclaimer: I am definitely not a Psychologist or MD. What follows are the rants of someone who, admittedly, has not seen it all; but possibly has seen “most of it”.

It’s not a clinical definition; it’s something I heard on TV. To whit: the definition of insanity. “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Now, prior to continuing, with that in mind – reread the first paragraph. Picture a dog chasing its tail. Not easy. But, when the wind is right Fido will manage to grasp that tail and just might put a mighty bite into that appendage. Does the definition of insanity or the tale of the tail sound like something that relates to some peoples notary career?

Still not convinced? OK, reread the title of this entry. So, by now you are probably wondering just where I am going with this. In a nut-shell: you must CHANGE. and the lesser sites offer exposure, you know that. Possibly you were wise enough to have the 123notary staff (and the others) spiff up your listing. Some just refuse – they feel their written scribbles are clear and well organized. Or, they prefer to feed their ego at the expense of their pocketbook. Very few of us, I’m a perfect example; are able to present ourselves in a well written, concise and effective manner. Ask the pros to help you with your listings!

I’ve lightly covered this issue before, now I’m going to use a sledgehammer. The industry for notaries is changing. Being a one product person is fast path to financial ruin. So often I see in the forum notaries who like doing signings – and refuse to do anything else! Here in Manhattan we used to have hot dog carts aplenty. Now they have morphed into food trucks that serve a wide variety. If you sit on a One Legged Stool you Are Going to fall on your Butt, you must offer a variety of services. Notary Protest, Apostille, Fingerprinting, training corporate notaries, etc.
One notary wrote to me that I am the one in the “dream world”. “Outside of your dream world of Manhattan, with all the fat cats; Middle America does not use mobile notaries – they just drive to the bank and have it done for free”. Not all, as I have often stated. Many value their time, more than a notary fee, and they do NOT know of your existence. You did not give them your business card and tell them what you can do. It takes real work to “build the business” – mostly the low balls will cold call hoping you jump at a 45$ edoc with total fax back. Learn to do many things and let those who can afford a fair fee know about you. Doing nothing = digging deeper.


July 18, 2017

Clients will work WITH you

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 10:48 am

Clients will work WITH you
Today I had a series of communications, some via email, and some via phone; about a pending assignment. It’s fascinating for me to note the growing level of assistance my client is providing, certainly due to their being required to pre-pay. This will be best related in chronological order.

The Initial Contact – I was asked if I was willing to go to a town about 40 miles distant. That might be a “local” call to many. However in the New York City area it’s at least an hour, probably closer to 1.5 hours. Nothing else was asked. I replied yes and with my base fee (not knowing what was needed) for the trip.

The Second Contact – A cheery voice – “that’s great” – I will send you the details via email, it’s for early tomorrow morning. But, I said, just a moment; there is more to discuss. My fee is paid on my web site – at this time – only then do I make a calendar entry. “We don’t pay in advance, do I have to find someone else” Yes, I answered. Sorry, that does not work for us.

The Third Contact – About two hours later that same day, after they probably made many calls. Are you still available for that early morning assignment? I am trying to get your prepayment approved. Sorry, no – early tomorrow was taken – would noon tomorrow work for you? Probably, we will get back to you shortly.

The Forth Contact – We checked with the site and they will be closed tomorrow, does Monday work for you. Yes, at this time; but I do not make a calendar appointment until payment is received. We will make payment later today or tomorrow (Friday). Fine, but if someone else wants to book Monday morning I will accept as you have not processed payment. Nb: commitments must be mutual Quid Pro Quo (this for that).
Comment – Notice that only when payment is made in advance for the trip did the caller bother to see if the affiant would be available. With prepayment they had “skin in the game” and clearly would wind up paying me to meet at a closed facility. They were quite willing to assign it on a “after you succeed we will pay” basis. I’ve been doing this a long time (10+ years). I set the rules very clearly. I always ask if the ID presented will have the same name as the name to be notarized on the document. Often I am asked what happens if they differ. You will have my sympathy for a failed non notarizing event; but not a refund. I ask for assurance of the existence of the necessary – if you send me to a situation where proceeding would be illegal, it’s your loss.

The Fifth Contact – we are checking to make sure all requirements are met. Your payment will be made later today (Thursday) or tomorrow AM. That’s fine, as soon as it is received it goes on the calendar if there is no conflicting assignment.
Comment – Note that I am “defending my calendar” – I do not confirm an appointment. Nor will I call the affiant to schedule as that commits me to showing up. It’s a medical records pick up / notarize job. Without my PayPal payment, to me; it does not exist and I will take no part other than stating my “current” availability. Well, it’s 10PM and nothing yet – no payment – no detailed who/what/when/where – just vague assurances.

I’m stopping now; will resume at noon tomorrow and chronicle what transpires, if anything. I’m back – the new day begins with a PayPal payment! However, there is a new “issue”. It’s urgent to process in Early AM on Monday; but the facility is closed till Monday and no one can assure me the affiant will be present. Sooooo, it’s a call to my client asking if they wish me to leave early for a 10AM, or wait till 10AM to confirm availability. I stress the former is “at your risk” – if affiant not available (of course after waiting a reasonable time) – then a subsequent trip will become a new charge. It’s a go. Monday I am due on location at 10AM.

You probably have received some emails from “Vendor Management” in which you are the Vendor and they are providing the Management. Turn That Around – Do you run your business or do your clients run you?


July 13, 2017

Making half notarized POA photocopy valid

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:51 am

Making half notarized POA photocopy valid
The Initial Call – Someone please leave a comment and let me know that I’m not the only one. I get a constant stream of “Gotcha’s”. It was a hospital POA assignment – should be routine. But, similar to a plaintiff withholding key information from their attorney; my clients often fail to mention things, even when I ask. This time, after the usual screening questions (ID, availability, rational, etc.); I get a new surprise when I arrive.

Educating The Client – After arriving at a fee for the described work (in this case one POA and one Health Care Proxy); I cover the Use of the POA. Most clients don’t realize that it is a “surrender upon use” not a “show and retain” document. Eg: When the bank allows use of a Power of Attorney to open a safe deposit box, they will retain the Original “wet signed” / embossed document. Note that I wrote “embossed document” I did not write the word “copy”. IMHO a photocopy of a notarized document is not itself a notarized document. Perhaps that is why you cannot FAX or email a deed to be recorded. But, again I stray – old age? So, I describe the surrender of the POA and ask if several POA’s might be what is needed.

Client Delighted – Armed with new knowledge, the client now wants a few additional Power of Attorney documents to be processed. I admonish (perhaps too strong a word) the client to duplicate the single POA to make the desired number of unsigned copies, prior to signatures or initialing. Will do they respond, and we agree upon a reasonable “up fee” for the additional work. Client made PayPal payment for first two documents and the additional fee will be cash on site.

At the Hospital – I arrive to find one Health Care Proxy, and a total of five Power of Attorney documents. But, to my surprise the “Agent” (my employer) had already been notarized prior to the Principal (the patient in the hospital). That has never happened in the several centuries I have been doing this. Thus the client has four photocopies of the POA – with the notarization of the Agent; not good. Many would probably just continue and notarize the signature of the Principal – using proper procedures. That would result in one valid Power of Attorney and four “half valid” copies as they do not have original Agent signatures or notarizations.

Making it Right – Clearly on the four Power of Attorney documents with the photocopy of the signature / notary – the signature of the Agent and notarization must be redone. I break out my “Acknowledgement in a Stamp” and find “clear space”. I have the Agent sign again, this time using blue ink. I complete the new Acknowledgement and also emboss it (as is my custom with any notarization). It did look slightly “odd”. The Agent was notarized in two different counties on the same day on the same document. I told my client if necessary to explain why, on the four copies a new notarization was required should anyone ask.

Wrap Up – The public has many misconceptions about notarizations, many thinking a photocopy is equivalent to an original. Few who have never used Power of Attorney documents realize that they are surrendered (usually) upon use. These are not “Legal Advice” issues as they are not specific to anyone; certainly not my client. Taking the time to share knowledge, and making the work totally acceptable – define us as dedicated and professional civil commission holders.


July 12, 2017

Notary Effort Pricing

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:45 am

Notary Effort Pricing
First an Analogy – Here in Manhattan we have two main types of “for hire” rides. The most common are the legions of Taxi Cabs (TC). Competing with the TCs is a growing number of “Limos”. The laws are changing, but generally TCs cruise the street for customers “street hails” while the Limos are called to meet clients at a specific location/time. Either gets you from here to there, but their pricing structure is quite different. The TCs have a meter that continues to increment the fare; the Limos provide a “flat rate” for the requested start/end point. As a rule the Limos drive very aggressively, wanting to complete the pre-ordained fare as quickly as possible. On the other hand the TCs are a bit more sedate, relishing that the meter keeps incrementing.

Where, When, What – While the simplicity of a flat rate sounds attractive, it fails the test of practicality. There are just too many possibilities to have a “standard notary rate”.
Where – involves principally the distance to be traveled. It also includes the type of facility (Prison, Hospital, Construction Site, etc.); add in the traffic density and speed of the roads leading to the assignment. Don’t forget car expenses; and gas prices are going up again.
When – other than 4AM emergency jobs, is related to the traffic that will be in route. Remember the “bell shaped” curve of one “standard deviation”? About two thirds of the jobs “probably” will work well with a preconceived flat rate. It’s the outliers that are the real problem; overcharging for mid-day, or departing prior to sunrise.

What – This can range from a single notarization on a Deed to a PiggyBack with four affiants on many, many pages. Add in some “Premium Services” such as Apostille, Legalization or Fingerprinting and the effort to completion increases dramatically. Or consider the more common requests for FAX backs, document printing, and waits for doc, status cell calls ……

DYGOOIWYPII – Do You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It?
Posting Prices – About two or three times a year someone asks why I do not post my fee schedule on my web site. Or, I receive an email asking for my fee schedule. Aint got one, never did; and I look with wonder at the few notary sites that post fees. It’s just too complicated. Considering the permutations available in Where What and When – a realistic and useful “rate sheet” would look like a cross between a Rail Road timetable and the pricing structure of most cable TV providers.

Now the Good News – Unless you are a flat rate fan (unlikely) you are already using a variation of “Effort Pricing”. You ask (prior to mentioning a fee) the key: Where, What and When. Keep taking those Ginkgo Biloba brain food pills. Assuming you get the WWandW you are going to have to calculate, you guessed it: your effort pricing. And, your client will expect a price quote rather quickly. Lotsa variables to take into account. The only tip that I can give is to process the Where and When at the same time; figure an effort fee. Then add your What fee – to arrive at a total. Be sure to let your client know that if the specs change, or there is a “surprise” that takes time/effort; the new data will probably up the cost. It’s not rocket science; take care to not commit yourself without knowing the 3Ws in detail. Get “burned” a few times and you will learn quickly.


July 11, 2017

Was Larceny in Their Hearts?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:42 am

Was Larceny in Their Hearts?
The Offer – comes in a bit low for a one page notarization. The package would come via FedEx as a check to the affiant would be given after notarization of the deed. Then scan and email an image of the deed and lastly ship the original. Quite routine; and I counter with a slight increase due to the distant location; adding my “up front” PayPal requirement. The offer came from a state well known for, how can I put it delicately – mischief about making payments.

They Accept – the reply agrees to PayPal with the understanding that the assignment does not go on my calendar until payment is received (more about the “received” soon). About an hour later I receive an email from PayPal about payment being made using an “eCheck”. PayPal also includes the following statement:

“It usually takes about 3-5 days for you to receive the money. We recommend that you wait until the money arrives before shipping items. We’ll email you when this eCheck payment has been deposited into your account.”

Looking deeper – the signature on the received email offer did not include a web address. However the email was from a private domain, and I went to take a look at I found a nice site complete with a BBB logo proclaiming an A+ Accreditation – as the BBB says “that builds trust”. So, I click on that nice BBB logo.

If it don’t Link, it do Stink – I click the BBB logo and nothing happens! It’s just an image. If you go to and click my BBB logo it takes you to my BBB listing. Well, knowing the address of the site “” I go to the local (in their state) BBB and try to find a listing for Nada. It appeared they claimed a rating that does not exist.

My Polite Inquiry – I send an email with images of the BBB logo on the “” site and an image of that URL (and the company name) not being found on the local BBB site and ask for “clarification”. As I write this I am really happy the inquiry was Polite! I suspected “fraud” but it’s best to remain civil and give the other side a chance to explain.

My Honest Client – the reply clarifies that the site is new, a branch of their existing (with a BBB link provided) initial site. The link does show an A+ and the same named person as Principal and Owner of both sites. It’s a go! I receive borrower contact info and make the call.

New Trouble – the affiant wishes to change the location from upper Manhattan to a distant address in the next county; somewhere in northern Queens County. I call, and inform that my fee will have to double; and offer an alternative. I give them the suggestion that they look by zip code on for someone much closer. They agree, I issue a PayPal refund, which should stop the eCheck that was “in progress”.

The Take Away – It “appeared” at first that the client was a bit “shady”. However, when you know only one side, it’s really best to give the other side a chance to explain. I’m glad I did not send a scathing condemnation – I would have appeared quite the fool. Even though the job did not work out this time, I probably have landed a new client. Doing my “reasonable best” for their interests; with due consideration for mine, works for me. Lastly, now having experience with eCheck I clearly state that payment is on my site via PayPal is with a credit card.


July 4, 2017

The “Switching” Durable Power of Attorney

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 9:23 am

Durable – this means the Agent “Might” have authority at any given moment. Unlike the regular Power of Attorney, the “agency” relationship (not the specific powers) between the Principal and Agent (can) switch on and off. The status can be elusive, as it is/might be based on incapacitation of the Principal to manage their own affairs. And, specifically how the Power of Attorney is worded. It becomes even more interesting when the variations of the Durable are considered. Note: these variations are usually not in the title; the devil is in the details. Also note: I have never seen the word Switching used in the title of a real POA; that’s my term.

Even When I’m Sick – Durable in this variation continues the agency relationship when the person becomes incapacitated. Unlike a regular POA, this maintains agency even when the Principal is unable to revoke the Agent authority. This is the format that I have most commonly seen. It generally takes effect upon notarization of both the Principal and the Agent. It is “durable” in the sense that it maintains agency, thru incapacitation until revoked.

Not Now, Maybe Later – In this variation the agency relationship does not exist when the Principal signs the document. The objective is to establish agency when the Principal is no longer a valid subject for notarization – incapacitated. Clearly at the moment of notarization; the Principal cannot be incapacitated. It may look like a “ready to use POA”, but Agent has no authority while the Principal is able to manage their own affairs, IF it is written that way. Contrast with the regular POA which establishes the agency relationship (Agent has authority) – immediately.

The Notary Point of View – the internal wording of the Power of Attorney, Durable or not – does not concern the notary. What it says, or does not say; is of no concern to me. The usual criterion for us to notarize a signature applies, regardless of the wording. Perhaps a bit more so, as POA documents are potential vehicles for mischief. Care should be taken with IDs and that there is no intimidation.
The Acceptors Point of View – So many nooks and crannies, it could be difficult to establish a current agency relationship, and Agent’s current authority. Perhaps that is why many banks insist upon only accepting their own POA document. Usually? There is no usually, the acceptor will probably need an Attorney and some research to determine current validity. It may be titled “Durable Power of Attorney” but if the fine print says it’s only valid when (and that when can be a moving (off and on) target) the Principal is incapacitated – is it valid when presented?

A POA form may look “routine” – but the notary steps over the cliff if they “explain” it. I am not an attorney, nor can I relate how this document applies to your situation. Or, in the very unlikely situation can I advise the acceptor as to acceptance. I can only say that the signatures were notarized following all applicable laws. That’s it.

Due to the potential for fraud and litigation, many are the local (to me) notaries who decline to process any Power of Attorney documents. We are not required to read or understand the contents of documents we notarize. Apply the basics, to the letter – if it feels “bad” run away.


July 2, 2017

A long complex assignment

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 10:06 am

A Long Complex Assignment

The initial request
“I need to send my NY law degree and NY marriage certificate to China. So far I have spoken to a dozen notaries in New York City and none of them are willing to work with me. Are you?” Yes, I know how to complete your project, but it will take some effort on your part. I will tell you what you need to do, and you must be willing to follow my instructions to the letter. Your one sentence specification sounds simple, but processing it is not, nor will it be inexpensive. Do you agree?

The Law Degree
NY is very strict about processing educational documents (this assignment would have an English Translation (from Latin) and a transcript of grades. The client must make an appointment for me to meet with the Registrar of the college. I request proper wording to be typed on school letterhead stationery, to be signed by the Registrar; and notarized by me. I also request that the raised seal of the school be embossed onto both the cover letter, and each page that follows. The cover letter in addition to specific NY wording, lists in detail the attachments. The cover letter, properly notarized by me (of course including my embossing) is put aside pending the common path it will follow with the marriage certificate.

The Marriage Certificate
For me to pick up a marriage certificate in NYC I need a very short notarized POA from one party to the marriage. Also, copies of my client ID and my ID must be submitted. An application form must be completed by the client and signed. As only the originals can be submitted, these documents must be sent to me; preferably via FedEx. At the marriage office I request that the hand written signature of the NY City Clerk be included on the Certified Copy.
Common Path
The law degree has my notarization; the marriage certificate has the signature of the City Clerk. Both signatures are registered with the state of NY. Both documents now travel to the validation section which confirms the validity of each signature; adding their approval form. With the approval form on each, it’s off to the Apostille office. A cover letter is prepared by me, requesting the appropriate “Apostille”. They do not attach an Apostille. Rather, as the intended country of use is China they add (via a non removable grommet) a “Certified”. Most other countries receive an Apostille.
On to China Consulate

China requires a submission form and a copy of my ID. They also require a very complete copy of each document. Care must be taken to not miss any part of the document in the photocopy. When submitted they do a page by page compare for completeness. They offer various processing speeds, with related fees. Basic service is drop off and return in a few days for pickup.

While waiting for China
Now is when I request the shipping address to prepare a FedEx label to ship the completed documents. As they are going to Chile, for later use in China – I request the exact address including postal code and phone number at the ship to destination. I prepare the airbill and send a screen shot to my client for approval. I inform them that I cannot ship without their confirmation that the airbill is absolutely perfect.

Pickup from China and ship
Back to the China Consulate to pick up the documents, now containing a “sticker” atop the Apostille. That is there Legalization “stamp”. The completed documents go into the FedEx envelope with a copy of the airbill inside (in case the outside gets torn off) – and 3 copies (for international shipments) of the airbill in the outside pouch. When tendering to FedEx a drop off receipt is requested. A quick photo via cell camera sends the drop off image to my client. Done.

Security Clearances
If you are not student or staff – you must be pre-approved to enter the grounds of an educational institution. I had requested the Registrar to inform lobby security of my appointment. Here in NYC governmental offices have metal detectors similar to airport screening. I walk in with nothing in my pockets, everything in a clear zip lock bag, including my keys and wallet. That bag is put thru the metal detector, as I walk thru with nary a beep.

Consider the Waits
It takes time for the Registrar to prepare a letter to be acceptable to the validation section. All of the municipal offices have long slow moving lines. Always. I play chess with my cell phone, many carry a book. Most of the time in the total project is waiting time; and travel time – there is no way around it.

Be Prepared to Pay
There is no commonality as to how the various entities accept payment. The most extreme is the Consulate of Brazil which only accepts US Postal money orders – nothing else! On this project I had to pay validation section with cash, the Apostille section with a check, and China with a credit card!

Final Thoughts
Be careful about time commitments. One time I went to China, but they were closed for two days due to a national holiday – surprise to me! At the Apostille section it’s possible to wait for hours, especially if those in line ahead of you submit stacks. Go early to China, stand outside in the rain till they open officially. Lots of travel, lots of waiting, many forms to have “just right”. It really hurts when the client submits (to me) inaccurate information such as the marriage date; ouch! When it’s all done, and perfect – sending the client a PDF of the scan of everything will earn you a very positive review – IF you remember to send them the link to submit your review!


May 28, 2017

My Next Notary Visit is Free

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 9:27 am

My Next Notary Visit is Free
Those who interact frequently with the public have tales to tell. Often they are sorrowful tales of unfair and unjust situations. Sometimes they are stories of pure joy and selflessness, the stuff of legends. This installment deals with neither of the above, this is about: Weird and absurd.
My client is a regular, usually with investment documents. Always there is a check on the table next to the passport. I could use “personally known” but check the ID every time. Usually the documents are making money for my client. That’s a good thing. This visit was an exception. It was not a very dramatic purpose that needed notarization, but IMHO a rather foolish reason.

Not foolish because of anything my client did; it was the “system” working very hard to force the absurd to be notarized. The Pension Fund had made a mistake. They issued a check a bit too big. No biggie, it would be routine to respond with a repayment check. But, that was not what the fund insisted upon. They required that the refund TO them be accompanied by their document stating the purpose of the enclosed check. And, required that document to be notarized.

The overpayment my client received would just about buy dinner for two at a diner. My mobile notary fee was a bit greater than the overpayment. Thus client was paying more for me to notarize the “return fee manifest” than the actual repayment amount. “That’s the way they are, and it’s impossible to talk with them”, sayeth the client. It was a silly situation. Long time client was “taking it on the chin” – caught in bureaucracy by a Pension Fund – that made the initial mistake.

This was absurd. There were two checks on the table; the larger one was for me, the smaller one addressed to the Pension Fund. I decided to leave my check where it was; and just leave without it. “Come Back – you forgot this” – “that’s OK, I would not feel right about taking it”. But client went on to say that I earned my fee and insisted that I take my check, so I did.

It still did not feel right. So, upon returning home I sent an email to the effect that my next visit would be free. That was accepted. Why “later” but not “now” puzzled me. Perhaps the client was giving me some time to reflect and not just react to the situation. Whatever the reason, I did not push the issue and await the next visit, for free – as agreed.

Mobile notaries have both personal and business relationships at the same time. There is no personal relationship when I shop at Wal-Mart or EBay. But, what we do is different. We meet people face to face, and, if we are “fair and honest” – they sense it. That forms a bond. It’s not forced or phony; it’s based upon mutual respect.

So I will forfeit a fee. It’s not the first time; and it won’t be the last time. Once, at about 5AM a caller called me a “money grubbing notary”. That was a good thing because I, half awake; had quoted my minimum fee – ignoring the time or the inches of snow on my car. Each situation is different and we need to use both our brain and our heart when interacting with the public. Of course the guiding principles of applicable notary law are chief – over all other considerations.

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