April 2014 - Notary Blog - Signing Tips, Marketing Tips, General Notary Advice - 123notary.com
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April 23, 2014

When Good Notaries go Bad

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — admin @ 11:23 am

When Good Notaries go Bad
The stories you are about to hear are true, the names have been changed to protect the guilty. In truth I really don’t know the names. The sites I did check that offer illicit activities are very stealthy. Then not only omit any information about themselves on their site, they also mask their domain registration. With only a “throw away” cell number and lots of self praise – to offer very convenient, albeit illegal services.

One offers to Apostille your signed document (signed by an individual, not a registered public official) by mail. Just ship it in with your payment. I’m sure you can understand their preference for money orders! Notary by mail, what a concept! Such activity will bring much tighter regulation on us all. It is possible that they do nothing at all other than collect money, Cash the money order, shred the documents; what a business model.

There is one rascal in New York City whose perpetual goal is to drive other notaries “out of business”. I have posted a few Forum entries about this particular low life. This creep calls with a high dollar offer for you to accept what is clearly an illegal offer. You can be sure the tape recorder is running! I’m not sure how this anti-notary individual plans to use the tapes. How do I know this? I have received several of these “setup” calls myself. Of course I turned down the request, but the voice was familiar. Once, no make that twice, I heard a comment as the phone was being hung up. The voice said “Well, that did not work”. I suppose I will continue to receive these calls, you might too. A polite explanation of proper procedures ends the usefulness of the tape. Always conduct your phone conversations as if they were being played in a courtroom. Present yourself as calm, and informative as to what the proper procedures are; or, suggest the caller contact an attorney.

At times when I was unable to handle an assignment I referred my client to a notary with whom I had a very casual acquaintance. I made that mistake a few times. It was months before the feedback about the disasters reached me. I did expect the “other” notary to try to adopt my client – that comes with the territory and for them to leave a business card is routine. What I did not expect is major drama. In a majority of the cases, the notary I referred attempted to greatly overcharge my (now former) client. Former, because I made the referral. The sin of the notary was to not explicitly define their fees, and offer a whopping surprise bill upon conclusion of the assignment. It’s somewhat amazing how creative some notaries can be when it comes to charges. This one stated a standard fee, but when payment time came had some new “issues”. An after hour charge, an additional fee for climbing stairs, a waiting time fee (while at municipal offices), multiple travel fees, etc.

I am often asked about my fee. Callers ask what it includes. I tell them it includes going to you and doing the work as you just described it to me. If the work goes up, so does the fee; that point is made very clear. They are told that http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com does not like to give nor receive surprises. A fee to notarize two documents does not include five “copies” of each; nor will the fee increase if I run into traffic and it takes me longer to get to their location. It works both ways.

There is a different notary in New York who often states “(censored) ‘em – they’re just a one wack” – and proceeds to try to milk whatever he can from their wallet. In one sense he is right, they will never call him back. Worse, the clients post very negative feedback on Yelp, Google, and other review sites. He probably started out, with a fresh notary commission, to “do the right thing”. But, some take the “low road”; and seek quick short term gains at the expense of long term relationships, and their ensuing profits.

Times are getting tougher. There is more competition for the few paying customers. Discounting, to an absurd (IMHO) is rampant. But, price cutting is legal; however, in the long run – not a viable business model. There is also the temptation to flaunt the regulations, for immediate profit. That must be eschewed. It just boils down to the classic “Golden Rule” about “Do unto others…..”. That “Do….” incorporates fairness to the public, as well as your competition. Being a “bad notary” not only risks legal repercussions, it will lower both your “bottom line” and your self esteem. You will succeed by doing a great job and being fair and honest to all others.

Tweets:
(1) Always conduct your phone conversations as if they were being played in a courtroom.
(2) Use caution & professionalism if asked to do illegal notary acts!

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April 19, 2014

Split PDFs into Letter & Legal Separate PDFs

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:12 pm

Today half of my printer died. I have an HP LaserJet 4100, the main part “sits” on base with a second drawer. I keep Letter paper in the lower drawer, and Legal in the top drawer. I figure the longer paper should have a shorter path; but put in either way it works the same. When printing the PDF, I select “Choose paper source by PDF page size”. It works fine, but only if you have both sizes of paper mounted in the printer. Generally, http://kenneth-a-edelstein.com has 2 working trays, but not today!

As mentioned, the bottom half of my printer died. I needed to print a set of edocuments which had interspersed letter and legal. First, a quick check to verify that it would be acceptable to print NOT interspersed; first the legal then all the letter. They agreed.

I needed some software quick. I found http://www.a-pdf.com offering a tool A-PDF Page Size Split which seemed to meet my needs precisely. I downloaded the software from their site using this link: http://www.a-pdf.com/page-size-split/index.htm – being always afraid of downloads the next step was to make (almost) absolutely sure it was malware free. To do this I went to https://www.virustotal.com and uploaded the file for their MANY virus scanner inspections. It passed. Next I virus checked it with my own anti virus software F-Secure (after doing a manual update) and it again passed. Satisfied that it did not contain anything nasty I installed A-PDF Page Size Splitter.

It installed quickly and soon I was splitting an old PDF of loan docs. Its interface was simple. It’s easier to use if you first create a dedicated folder somewhere and put a copy of the input file there. I let it default to split back to the input directory. It displayed the page count of letter and legal and created new files using the input file name and adding the words “letter” and “legal” into the original file name.

A quick look at the new files showed they were indeed properly split and the page count of the two new files added up to the count of the original file. Huuh? What’s this? A bit of a “gotcha”. An advertising watermark had been added to each output page. What I had was the demo version, used to make sure the product will work. My Win 7 64Bit Dell was compatible, as are many prior versions of Windows. But, now it was time to “Register” and pay the $49 to get rid of that watermark. I paid the piper and soon was emailed a code to Register and the subsequent processing was without the watermark. They also give free updates for life to registered users.

Sooooooooo, after splitting the file I printed the Legal, then changed paper to print the Letter. The service people still have the base with the second drawer and it will be returned in a day or so. The software was a bit expensive, but provides me a way to meet my obligation; and to be ready for the next malfunction.

One tip. In the ordering process they automatically add a ten dollar “download protection” that allows you to download at a later date. I find that feature totally useless. Once you have the registration code; you are always able to download the demo version and apply your registration code. Thus, the download protection seems to serve no function. Perhaps, the download protection sends you a file that already has your registration code “built in”. But, I deselected it. Updates are just a reinstall, with no need to do an uninstall prior to the update. They claim an update will “find” that you are registered.

A small side benefit is knowing exactly how many sheets of each type of paper will be required; just in case you are near running out. With the letter pages atop the legal pages it’s off to the borrower for me.

Tweets
(1) Splitting PDF’s into letter & legal: a story of how it all went wrong.

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April 14, 2014

The Flip Side (of your business card)

Filed under: Ken Edelstein,Popular Overall — Tags: , — admin @ 11:13 am

The Flip Side (of your business card)

John Wayne said “Life’s Rough, and it’s Rougher if your Stupid”, what’s that got to do with this blog and notary work? Nothing at all – I just like the quote. Now it’s time for me to stop being silly and write something worthy of your time to read. The subject this time is the humble business card. Every aspect of it. Before proceeding I’m putting in a plug for Vistaprint – they have super tools to design business cards, and if you order the maximum – really low price per card. OK, now you know where I am going with this installment – I’m going to cover the humble but o so essential business card.

Every business knows the maxim that it is hard to get a new customer and so very easy to lose them. I’m going to ignore the “lose them” and concentrate on the “get a new” aspect of client relations. To my eternal surprise I have found that some notaries do not have a business card. That is an astonishing oversight on their part. You not only must have a business card – you need a great business card. Take the time to design a superb one – one that reflects the excellence you put into everything you do. Never use a cookie cutter quickie template – are you a tree in a forest of similar trees? Of course not. You are professional offering skills like no other. Your card IS you.

Not only must it have an eye-catching design, it must be easily readable. That is a must. I don’t understand why my doctor uses a type font and size that requires reading glasses (for me) and probably many others. It also must say what your areas of expertise include. Just your name and “Notary Public” is so far below the minimum, it borders on the silly. That does not even cover the areas where you make the most income – being a mobile notary and going to the client. While avoiding the temptation to “crowd” the card, you must stress the services that you offer – the ones that bring in the most income. That is why you had the cards printed, right?

Cards are one of the cheapest forms of advertising. They can be “dirt cheap” if you order them that way. Go at least for the glossy color ones, well designed and carefully populated with contact information. You certainly want your direct cell number to be very prominent. Useful information obviously includes your FAX number and your web site. Be careful to not include information that is subject to change. Those cards circulate for a very long time. If you include “by appointment only” – many will be turned off. Better is to say “call for availability” or something a bit more positive.

Now for my secret weapon: It’s the “flip side” of the card. The face of the card is about you, what you do and how to reach you. But what if they don’t think they will need your services in the foreseeable future. You have to give them a reason to keep your card WITH them. Enter the back of the card. This is not new, others before me have discovered this truth. Many put an appointment schedule – typically done by doctors, on the back of the card. Problem: when the back is full, the card is pitched. It works for the doctor but that will not work for you. Better is a calendar, but only slightly. When December 31st rolls around your card goes in the bucket.
I have a street guide on the back of my card. It helps people to find the location of a specific building on the streets of Manhattan. Others that I did admire have tables that equate English measurements to Metric. I have seen perpetual calendars, local emergency phone numbers, and European to American clothing size conversion tables. All share the common feature that the information is useful and never goes out of date.

Now that you have a fantastic card designed, order lots of them. I order 5000 at a time from Vistaprint and select their slowest service; for fabrication and shipping. The price tumbles, they cost about a penny each. At that price I can afford to never give ONE to someone, always a few. You want as many as possible in circulation. When you go to a building always give a few to the lobby staff. The concierge at a hotel is one of the best places, for several cards. It’s easier for them to hand one of your cards to a guest then transcribe the information onto a sheet of paper, which would be thrown away by the person who will be calling you! You do yourself a great disservice if you do not have a superb card and distribute them to everyone you meet.

You might also like:

Notary Spectrum, a Tale of Two Notaries
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=6663

Stealing a business name
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=2660

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April 4, 2014

Witnessing the intake forms for Notary Heaven

Clerk: “NEXT!!!!”

Clerk: “You were. Ahh. It says here on your Akashic records that you were a decent notary. You never backdated. That’s just herely.”
Sal: “Pardon?”
Clerk: “Heavenly. But… On your Match.com profile, you front-dated to make yourself younger, but the women you met also front-dated and it all evened out, so no problem there. Back to your records… You never signed without having a current ID with a matching name. You were rarely late to any appointments, and you made a courtesy call when you knew you’d be late. Too bad you were late on your child support payments.”
Sal: “Better late than never.”
Clerk: “As in dead vs. never exist, I agree. Sign here.”
Sal: “I never had any kids, by the way. You must be confusing me with somebody else.”

Clerk: “You must be confusing me with somebody who confuses you for somebody else.”
Heavenly Notary: “Can I see some ID?”
Sal: “I just died. My ID is with my body down there.”

Clerk: “His commission seal expired after he did. I already checked it in.”
Notary: “Your right thumb print, please. The one you hitched a ride with to get to the dance where you met your future wife to whom you gave thumbs down to timely child support.”
Sal: “Boy, you guys really know how to stay on topic.”

Clerk: “You are hereby appointed to Notary Heaven section 263, upper level.”
Notary: “Really? Upper level! I must have done something right? By the way, up here, is upper level a good thing?”

Clerk: “It’s where we put decent notaries who didn’t make their child support payments. It’s up in the nosebleed section. But since noses don’t bleed here, no worries. Be glad you’re not headed to where we stick the backdaters.”
Sal: “Uhh… Where’s that?” Clerk: “Notary purgatory. For all of eternity, they’ll have to remind clients to stop signing differently on each page, so it’s consistent.” Sal: “Okay, but once again, I never had children. Perhaps there’s another Sal who used my social security number and…”
Heavenly Bouncer: “You’re coming with me, kid…”
Sal: “Thanks for calling me a kid. I guess compared to all of eternity, I am on the youthful side.”
Bouncer: “Up these stairs over here.”
Sal: “They don’t have escalators in heaven? Not that I’m complaining.”
Bouncer: “You’re getting aerobic exercise. It will make you feel therely.”

Sal: “Oh, okay. Wait a minute! … There-ly? Don’t you mean here-ly?”
Bouncer: “We just left heaven. This is heaven-adjacent. The address still sounds reasonably fancy, but the neighborhood’s a little seedier. For the seedier folks who shirked their child support payments.”
Sal: “Listen… I didn’t get your name.”
Bouncer: “What do you mean?” Sal: “Your name. I didn’t get your name.” Bouncer: “My name is ‘What do you mean.’ In heaven-adjacent, it makes confused new members sound like they’re my friends.” Sal: “Is there any way to appeal the whole child support issue?”
Bouncer: “You can take that up with the staff in section 263.”
Sal: “What do you mean?” Bouncer: “Yes?” Sal: “Never mind.”

263 Host: “Welcome to section 263. We’ve been expecting you! The accommodations here are adequate, and the food isn’t terrible.”
Sal: “That doesn’t sound… terrible.”
263 Host: “As for the enticing food descriptions in the menu, don’t ask me to affirm them under the penalties of perjury. Oh, and the full portions are reduced by thirty percent, because SOMEONE in the brighter world didn’t make their section 263 support payments. Ring a bell?”
Sal: “How could I have been a deadbeat before I was actually dead?”
263 Host: “Have a nice eternity.”

———————–
Old Version
———————–

Sal: “Hi, I’m Sal”
Clerk: “You sure are. Hmm. It says here on your Akashic records that you were a good notary. You never backdated. You never signed without having a current ID with a matching name. You were rarely late to any appointments, and you made a courtesy call when you were going to be late. Too bad you were late on your child support payments.
Sal: “Hey, excuse me. I think there is a mistake here. You see I…”
Clerk: “Sign here”
Notary: “Can I see some ID sir?”
Sal: “Hey, give me a break, I just died. My ID is with my body down there. I never had kids by the way, you must be confusing me with…”
Clerk: “Sure you didn’t. Where have I heard that before.”
Notary: “Your right paw-print please.”
Clerk: “You are appointed to Notary Heaven section 263, upper level.”
Notary: “And what did I do to merit such a place? By the way, is that a good place?”
Clerk: “That’s where we put good notaries who didn’t make their child support payments. It’s a whole lot better than where we put the backdaters. I’ll leave that to your imagination.”
Sal: “Okay, but once again, I never had children. Perhaps there is another Sal who used my social security number and…”
Bouncer: “You’re coming with me kid…”
Sal: “Oooh, strong grip…”
Bouncer: “Up these stairs over here.”
Sal: “Is this heaven or is this a prison?”
Bouncer: “Think of all of god’s creation as a karmic realm of one sort or the other. Certain realms are more desirable than others.”
Sal: “Is there any way to appeal the whole child support issue?”
Bouncer: “You can take that up with the staff in section 263. Have a nice day!”

263 Staff: “Welcome to section 263. We have been expecting you! The accommodations here are honest, and the food is not bad, but you only get 70% portions because our funding got cut because SOMEONE in the brighter world didn’t make their section 263 support payments. Sound familiar?”
Sal: “Yeah, about that. I was hoping that we could…”
263 Staff: “NEXT….”

Tweets:
(1) Notary Heaven Section 263: That’s where we put good notaries who didn’t make their child support payments.
(2) Hmm. It says here on your Akashic records that you were a good notary. You never backdated.
(3) I just died, my ID is with my body down there.
(4) Notary Heaven Section 263: That’s where we put good notaries who didn’t make their child support payments.
(5) Hmm. It says here on your Akashic records that you were a good notary. You never backdated.
(6) I just died, my ID is with my body down there.
(7) The notary heaven clerk noted that his commission seal expired after he did.
(8) Notary purgatory: For all of eternity, dead notaries get clients who sign differently on each page.

You might also like:

Compilation of comedy articles about Notary Heaven & Hell
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=16640

The signing from hell (Carmen’s version)
http://blog.123notary.com/?p=765

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