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November 25, 2011

Payment terms – set by the Buyer or Seller?

Filed under: Ken Edelstein — Tags: — admin @ 9:11 am

Payment terms – set by the Buyer or Seller?

As often discussed “in the old days” the “Closer” had “pickups” and earned a significantly higher fee than current signing agents. Sure they took risk, but the higher fee (often several hundred dollars) made up for the few that did not fund…..

Fast forward to today. Notaries are the “seller” of their “signing agent services” and the buyers are Signing Services, LO’s, Title companies, Escrow companies, etc.

In every other case that I know of – it is the SELLER who sets the payment terms. The seller / service provider sets how and when they are to be paid. Common sellers are Ebay merchants, Exxon, McDonalds, your dentist, even the babysitter. As the BUYER in almost every case – you make payment “up front” prior to getting the service or merchandise. There are exceptions; when you leave your car for service, you pay when you pick up the car. Or, you don’t get the car and a “mechanics lien” kicks in and the car is either taken or held till payment is made.

What baffles me is the supposed “industry standard” whereby notaries are expected to up front expenses, services, and professional time; in the “hope” of later payment. Some, actually as I read the various posts, many – are never paid.

As mentioned the high fee true “closer” was paid at closing, and “on the HUD” – paid according to law – on time, with other disbursements.

With the proliferation of, to phrase it gently, “problem receivables”; I just don’t understand why so many notaries do not require “up front” payment. Almost all of my individual (non-signing) work is received in advance. My standard answer as to “why in advance” is that it is dangerous for me to go from place to place adding cash – it’s much safer for me to be paid by credit card. “Why in advance?” – because many cards often fail clearance. I tell clients that they receive a nice receipt from PayPal – and I receive a scheduling notification. Simple, clean and effective.

I require the same of all but the highest rated signing related work. Unless they have the best of 123 AND Rotary feedback – it’s in advance or I decline the job. I would not be able to maintain this policy if it was costing me a big chunk of work – but it is NOT. With “pay in advance” I can accept work from the WORST “duds” that most would turn down due to their “no pay / slow pay” reviews. That’s not a problem when the money is already in the account. Why would they do such an about face – because they are desperate to farm out the job to keep THEIR client happy. Soooooo, don’t have a “won’t take work from dud list” – have a PayPal account – and insist the dud’s prepay!

I have brought this subject up in various postings. Again I urge all to open a PayPal account and request/require advance payment. It greatly helps to have a website that provides assurances about your integrity.

It is the seller not the buyer who establishes the terms of the sale. You are selling your services; “they” are buying them. Putting up with the various delays, deductions, and out and out ripoffs makes as much sense as pulling into an Exxon station and asking them to fill the tank and “invoice” you. BTW: using a credit/debit at Exxon is still paying Exxon in advance – just not with cash.

Kenneth A Edelstein
Mobile Notary, Apostille / Legalization Processing & Fingerprinting

Please also see:

2018 Good Signing Companies – a thorough list

Bouncey Bouncey Paypal

Protecting yourself with a contract

How far do you go to push for payment terms?