July 2012 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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July 17, 2012

Fees at the door MISUNDERSTOOD on Facebook

Fees at the door MISUNDERSTOOD on facebook 

Tisk tisk: notaries on Facebook.  You mostly misunderstood my discussion question about getting fees at the door for signings to prevent beneficial interest. this discussion took place in Jan 2012. I was NOT talking about loan signings.  At Loan signings they pay you three or four months AFTER the signing if you are lucky, not in cash at the signing. It is very obvious that I was talking about doing a traveling notary job for an individual person.  The problem is that most of you depend solely on loan signings for your living when there are many jobs for individuals which you either don’t know how to handle or reject because you are not familiar with it.
 

A typical botched jail notary job
Let’s say you drive 45 minutes to a jail to meet the girlfriend of a criminal.  You meet her in the parking lot or in the front door of the jail.  Let’s say you don’t collect your travel fee of $50 at the door.  Let’s say that hypothetically you walk to the guard, fill out the forms, but lo and behold, the prisoner has been moved to another jail 90 miles away.  Then you say, may I have my travel fee please.  The girlfriend says, “BUT YOU DIDN’T DO ANYTHING”.  And then you say, “Sure I did, I drove 45 minutes, talked to you on the phone, walked in here, and now I have to drive 45 minutes back home, and also go to the gas station which takes more time and money.  Pay up!!!  You will get stiffed, because they will feel that they do not owe you if you didn’t quote unquote DO ANYTHING. 
 

Yet another hospital notary job
Let’s say you drive an hour to a hospital at 3am to accommodate some desperate people.  You don’t get your travel fee at the door in cash like I recommend.  You go upstairs with the signer’s son in law only to find that the signer is on morphene, fast asleep, and in no position to sign anything or even sit up.  You ask for your travel fee for your 2 hour round trip, and the son in law says, “Sorry, but I’ll pay you when you come back next time, I didn’t realize that the nurse drugged Shelly’s dad”.  You just got stiffed again.
 
This isn’t rocket science. If you work with the public, they will leave you high and dry if you don’t protect yourself.
 
3rd example… beneficial interest
Lets say you go to a notary job.  You do NOT collect travel fees up front. Let’s say that the signer’s name on their ID doesn’t match the name on the document enough for you to legally or ethically notarize them.  They say, “Oh come on — you are being unreasonable”.  They say they won’t pay you a penny unless you notarize the signer. They have you by the balls because you didn’t think ahead.  If you have the travel fee up front, then you are in control and will not be pursuaded under duress to break the law so you can get your lousy fee!
 
Last example:  The law office.
You are called into a law office 10 minutes away. You are instructed to show up at 1pm for a signing. Your trip fee is $30 and your waiting time fee is $20 per half hour with the first ten minutes complementary.  Let’s say that you never collected your $30.  The attorney says they won’t be ready for another 10 minutes.  But, 10 becomes 20, and 20 becomes an hour, and then finally after 90 minutes, you finally do the signing, and then they pay you, but they won’t pay for the waiting time.  If you had gotten your $30 at the door, you could threaten to leave if they don’t pay the wait time up front for each 30 minute increment.  If you don’t have the trip fee, you have no leverage. This has happened half a dozen times to me in my notary career!

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July 14, 2012

Protecting yourself with a contract

Protecting yourself with a contract 

It is common for big companies to make the little guys sign a contract with many terms for doing business. One common term is to have an arbitrator resolve issues, and the arbitrator is probably picked by the company in question — how fair!!! ……. Not!    But, how often do the little guys think far enough ahead to protect themselves?  I say that notaries need to make signing companies sign something that will protect the notary’s interests.  But, will anyone sign it out of desperation? If they like the notary enough, they might, but if you are a novice with no experience, you will not have such good luck.
 
Here are terms that I would discuss.
 
Trip Fees
If I am assigned a signing agent / notary job by your company, and travel to an assigned location, and the job is cancelled while in travel, I want a $50 trip and preparation fee.  I want $75 for jobs more than 40 miles from my house according to mapquest’s mileage estimates.
 
Printing Fees
If I am assigned a signing agent / notary job by your company , print out documents and borrower’s copies, and then your company cancels, I want a $40 printing fee.   (it might not be worth this much, but you have to factor in the hassle of billing these clowns and trying to collect).
 
Payment regardless of funding
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, and I complete the signing, but the loan doesn’t fund, your company must pay me $100 per signing.
 
Payment regardless of if the borrowers are willing to sign
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, arrive at the specified location, and start a signing with the borrowers, and then they change their mind about signing and refuse to sign, your company must pay me the entire fee agreed upon.
 
Waiting time
If I am assigned a loan signing job by your company, I will allow up to 60 minutes for the job.  If the borrowers want to read every letter of every word in every document and take in excess of 60 minutes, I require a waiting time fee of $40 for every additional 30 minutes, or any fraction thereof.
 
Late payment penalties
I expect to be paid within 30 days for all loan signing services.  If a payment is post-marked late than 30 days from the date of the signing, I will charge a late fee of $25 per signing, and then an additional $25 for each fifteen days after.  If you fail to pay this late fee, I will terminate services with your company.
 
I think that notaries are fools to just be willing to do business with anyone without even background checking them.  On the other hand, a contract like the one I drafted (written in informal language and not legalese) might be too demanding, especially the waiting time.  Perhaps a more liberal contract should be drafted, but notaries need to take protecting themselves a lot more seriously and get more professional and methodical about it.  Bigger companies almost always make you sign a contract, why shouldn’t you?

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