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July 12, 2015

Notary Respect

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: , — admin @ 1:30 am

Notary Respect
“When you arrive at the building, please use the service entrance.” That was the closing sentence from a client for an assignment in a midtown Manhattan office building. I called, and made it quite clear that was not the way I would proceed. “I do not use the back door; I am a commissioned office of the State Department of the State of New York on official business. I do not use the messenger or pizza delivery entrance. If you will kindly confirm to me that a pass will be waiting for me in the main lobby, I will be able to confirm your appointment”.

The above was yesterday. The client did assure me that a building security pass, at the normal entrance would be waiting for me. It was. Even though I carried a large bag with my fingerprinting supplies, I was directed to the elevator without incident. The assignment also included notarization; though both require my standing as a notary to establish ID.

This evening I had a title company call with a refinance. The location was nearby and they readily agreed to my fee. The assignment was for the next day, a Saturday. “The borrower has an early flight and would like you on location at 6AM.” Gulp, that will cost you an additional $50 as it would require me to wake at 5AM. “Why – $50 more, it’s not that you are likely to have some other conflicting appointment scheduled.” My only reply, censoring what I wanted to say was “Thank You for calling, find someone else”. Clearly my loss of sleep had no value to them, but it certainly does to me.

Chances are you are polite and respectful to callers and clients. However, not all callers are respectful to us. I found the position taken by the 6AM job caller disrespectful. To me that warrants an abrupt, but polite – end to the conversation. Sometimes our clients can be a bit unreasonable. At the door I heard large dogs growling and snarling. I like dogs, and usually have no concern about them. But, at this location they seemed very aggressive, not the “I like you” kind, that want some attention. I asked that the dogs be placed in a different room prior to entering. “My dogs are always free, enter or not; it’s your choice.” Away I went.

Do you have dignity? It’s rather a shock to me to have to ask the question. Of course you do, but do you demand respect both for yourself and your office as a notary? I have been asked, on a signing to literally “sit in the corner till you are required”. I’m not furniture. “He’s “just” the notary”, superfluous condescending word “just”. More accurately: He is the Notary. Even if you have a low self image, project the status and honor (yes honor) of your profession and office.

I’m not talking about being pompous and acting superior. Folks at the signing table are not expected to stand when you enter the room. You are an integral and necessary part of our legal system. A document can become evidence in court – because of your certification. We are the front line troops defending against and eliminating much fraud. There is a long and honorable history behind our roles as notaries. Our impartiality and objectivity define us.

Respect, just like trust; has to be earned. One way we earn trust is being sworn under oath to uphold our state’s laws. Respect is a bit more difficult to earn. Snide and demeaning comments as: “just a notary” must be immediately and politely voiced objections. When you dress, act, and practice your profession honorably; the respect you deserve will generally be forthcoming.

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September 15, 2014

How much is a notary?

How much is a Notary?
If I had a buck for every time asked that question; I wouldn’t be writing this. Rather, I would be on the beach in Acapulco admiring the views. Unfortunately, silly questions are not combined with revenue. I often give the “plumber” example. If you called a plumber and said that you had a water leak, with water on the floor; and asked how much to fix the leak – he, as I, would require more information to give you a reasonable answer. There are many notary services that are available. Some are relatively simple and quick to perform. Others involve complex and time consuming procedures with lengthy travel.

The question seems to come from two distinct groups. The major group is the unknowing, who for the first time require notary services. They are often unaware that a mobile notary fee will be greater than when they go to the bank. Perhaps they are not unaware, choosing to ignore that you will be expending time and resources to go to them. They have a mental image of the notary processing whatever they have, for a very modest fee. After all, they are getting “just a notary”.

The other group is magicians, expert at sleight of hand. They have used mobile notaries often; and are well aware of the components that add to a notary fee. They define one document as all the pages of the same loan. When needing 3 notarizations, they fail to mention that the signers are in separate and often distant locations. Despite my best efforts at not being conned, yours truly is often sucker punched. I give my lowest base rate for a single notarization at a not too far address. They gave me the street address. Unspoken was that the address turned out to be the UN building with a very extensive security procedure, much more so for my large bag of notary supplies – almost an hour to get past the long line and inspection. Ouch. You get the picture.

The absolute best defense is to get the specifications via email, along with the location. On the phone they had “a document” but the email says “documents”; get clarification. I make it very clear when I confirm receipt of the PayPal payment that it is for the work previously agreed. Any additions, extra “copies” or extensive (over 15min) wait time will be billed separately in cash. A small increase is to be “absorbed”, being petty sours the client. What often works is a base fee for travel plus a per notarization fee. This works best when told there will be “many” documents to notarize. Fine, my fee for going to you is, and my per signature notarized fee is. Please PayPal me a retainer based on a dozen notarizations; that can be augmented with cash later.

Oh, and add to my order a henway. The usual response is: What’s a henway? About 2 pounds. I know it’s an old joke. But has an analogy to “How much is a Notary?”. There is a delicate balance between protecting yourself and “turning off” the prospective client. It’s a difficult, almost impossible situation when the admin assistant calls for their boss. My boss needs some documents notarized are you available? A question or two yields nothing, they were just asked to have a notary “show up”. There is danger here. Unless you have fee agreement prior to travel; you risk a wasted trip and a very angry client. Better to not book at the moment and ask for a follow up call with the necessary details.
Turn “How much is a Notary” into your image of being a competent professional, well equipped to meet their needs for a fair fee. When “pay up” time comes, neither side should be surprised.

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