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March 8, 2016

The Ones That Got Away

The Ones That Got Away
It happens to all of us. We put time and effort into establishing an assignment, then it goes poof. Did we do something wrong? Possibly. If someone is fishing for the absolute lowest price for the “equivalent” of what you do; that may or may not be you. But the amount of your fee is not the central theme of this installment. It is the non-price issues that will be explored. So, assuming your fee is reasonable to the caller; why did that one get away?

Excluding walk in situations; virtually all of our notary assignments are initiated by phone or email. Some contacts are doomed from the start. Case in point: this evening I had a caller that needed two signatures notarized. It was for a “kiddie fly” (what I call the notarized authorization statement often required from parents for children to leave the USA). Both had good ID. One of the parents would be present; the other was far away. The flight was for 6AM tomorrow. “I have the ID of my partner and you can speak to and see them via picture phone”. Not an option in NY, personal appearance is always required. Add a bit of pressure: “Unless you do this the kid’s vacation with the grandparents will be ruined, we can’t reschedule and the tickets are non-refundable”. Nope.

Today I also had a “got away” that greatly pleased me. The request was from a distant county, with high tolls and heavy traffic. I goofed. I quoted a fee too low for the effort, I’m sure that pleased them greatly. The assignment was to go there, notarize, return to Manhattan, process an Apostille; then bring the completed job back to the distant location. Making it worse, the initial meeting time would have me traveling in the worst part of rush hour. The delivery trip would have been almost as bad. The good news: we had a conceptual agreement that would be confirmed with a follow up call with exact specifications. They never called back! Hooray.

Both of the above, thankfully, were resolved in the initial contact. Sometimes there are many, many contacts that also result in nothing. I’m starting to feel like a car salesman with an indecisive buyer. Unchecked this can go to ridiculous extremes. Some go back and forth, asking one at a time of their many questions. During slack times I have gone along with these charades. One actually constituted over twenty emails. It appeared that the contact was “pumping” me for procedural information and wished to do it themselves. I don’t like that, certainly not a bit at a time.

There are also requests from the land of Oz. These are the ones that ask for the notary to have supernatural powers. Can you be in my office within the next ten minutes? How come you don’t have an office; isn’t every notary supposed to have one open till 11PM? Please prepare the necessary documents for my divorce in Latvia, in both English and Latvian. Why would 25 notarizations cost more than one, you are already here? Can you open your office a few hours early, as I am working the early shift? The bank notary does it for nothing, what’s so special about you?

It’s silly to lament “the ones that got away”. Of course there are exceptional circumstances that require empathy and “over the top” professionalism – but they are rare. We should limit our acceptance to practical assignments; certainly only legal ones. Many have lampooned the low baller; with their tiny offerings. But, equally, perhaps even more important is the amount of effort that you will have to put into the project. Most charge an additional fee to fax. That usually involves a trip home to the scanner, only afterward can it be shipped. Consider all aspects of the request, even if the dollars are high. Will you get out of it more than you put into it?

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