It has always been my policy to require payment in advance for a variety of situations. If the job requires me at 4AM, if the caller tried to be “vague”, even if the job is very distant and requires extensive travel. PAID – sounded nice, but it really is a construct when using PayPal that does not include absoluteness. The payer can “bounce” the payment. The PP system is designed to protect the buyer not the merchant. That is a good thing, but can have unexpected implications.
On the good side, I tried to buy a camera from an individual overseas. I made the payment but the item never arrived, nor was it shipped. PP stepped in and returned my funds rather quickly. The seller could not provide a tracking number, big mistake on seller side. PP wants proof of events, not opinions or statements.
On the not so good side (for me) this works against the provider of services; even when the service was delivered perfectly. Over the past decade I have had exactly three contested charges. They were all for the same reason. Simply put the client forgot my name and questioned the charge with their bank. That starts a lengthy process that initially gives my client a refund from my account. All they have to do is “ask” – when their bank asks PP they credit my client and debit me.
And, it’s a long procedure. Even when my client is “reminded” (from assignment email, airbill images, etc), and they tell their bank the charge was valid – it takes PP about 100 days to restore funds to me!
I’m in the car, “Unknown Title” calls with a challenging assignment, as described above. I tell them they need to pay my fee in advance. Historically about a third of them agree, though it’s not their usual business procedure. That’s the problem. When they review their credit card statement they totally forgot what the payment to me “kenneth-a-edelstein.com” was all about. This probably happened many times without a “bounce”. Most probably looked up the web site and recalled that I did indeed work for them and they were satisfied with the results. However, some others do not think to do that, they ask their bank “what’s this all about”.
My regular readers will be disappointed with this installment. Normally I first dwell on the problem then provide a solution. I have none. The good news that in many hundreds of PP payments this has only happened 3 times. Also good news is that I have avoided “duds” that are problem collections. I no longer have the last Monday of the month devoted to “dun the turds”.
PayPal remains an excellent tool to secure advance payment. But you must keep the email history, especially your scan of the return tracking number as factual evidence that PP accepts. I will continue my policy, for example of requiring 4AM callers with an “emergency” to prepay – during the initial call. It stops them from putting you in a position of obligation while they make additional phone calls trying to trim ten dollars from the mobile notary fee. Once a payment is made few “shop around”. Why during the initial 4AM call? I don’t want to be woken up twice for the same assignment. I tell them honestly my cell will be turned off if payment is not received in the next 10 minutes. They “mind” their “business” and I “mind my own business”.
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