This post was written by a guest blogger who is one of our Notaries on our directory.
HOW MUCH A MOBILE NOTARY SHOULD BE PAID?
This Forum debated the issue one hundred times. How to substantiate the answer? A coincidence of stimuli made me reflect yesterday on the life and profession of the so-called “mobile Notary”, the one who generously drives to the clients’ home to execute documents and, thus, save them the trip to his/her office.
At the beginning, the Notary received a call with the Order, the documents were sent UPS or FedEx and returned the same way. Today, the Notary receives the Order, documents are emailed to print 140-145 pages + Borrowers’ copy
I was reflecting on the notary fees while reading in 123Notary Bulletins messages from Notaries complaining about the low fees being paid…when suddenly my email received a new Order.
We cannot blame exclusively the payer (lender, title company) for the low fees being paid to mobile Notaries. Each “closing” is preceded by a contractual verbal agreement: Notary is to perform under the conditions and at a pay the “employer” offers. Whether “sufficient” or “fair” depends upon the fairness of the payer and mainly, upon the self-valuation of the professional payee. When the Notary bargains, companies (frequently) increase fees.
Explore two incidents: Notaries complaints and the Order I received while reading the 123Notary Bulletins. The Order: Refinancing, 6:00pm, house 20 miles away in rural area. Brief computation of Cost and Time.
*Long distance. Three calls to company: $1 (add if documents faxed).
*Car. Round-trip to clients and shipping: 40+6 miles=46. If computed “for Reimbursement”, per 2015 Internal Revenue Service rules: $0.575/mile x 46 = $23.00. If computed as “strictly” Cost: (Notary has to estimate own car mileage use. Mine drinks 1 gallon/12 miles.) At $2.80/gal or $0.233/mile x 46=$9.33. Notary must add “other expenses”: maintenance, registration, insurance, tires amortization.
*Printing. About 260 sheets. If outside (Mail store, Office Depot) at $0.07=$18.20. If at home/office: $5.60, including paper and ink/toner, not maintenance, amortization or other expense.
*Other non-related [Notary] service.- Example: Some companies started asking Notary, “If client does not have IDs photocopy, not to worry; just take photos with your cellular and transmit to us”. Which reminds of that hypothetical proposal of the health insurance company to a physician: “Next time, if the patient does not bring his X-Ray or MRI, do not worry; just use the equipment at your clinic [without invoicing]”.
Estimated out-of-pocket minimum expense: $42.20 (or $15.93, per Notary practices).
*(Driving measurable distance vs. actual driving time: 2 miles office-Interstate takes 10-15 minutes due to endemic heavy traffic; remaining 18 miles may take only 20-25 minutes). Total 40 miles; time 1h20m.
*Calling client, calling company to confirm, upon arrival, upon completion; print originals and copies, review and organize them; signing at clients’ home; updating company; delivering to shipping. Minimum 4h10m.
Total time: 5h30m.
Accepting or declining an Order is the exclusive privilege of the Notary, how much he/she values the professional services, how high/low is his demand for respect (personally, professionally). How much 5 hours-30 minutes of work and $42.20 cash advanced are worth? Compare with other activities. The BLS (Bureau of Statistics of the US Department of Labor) released July 27, 2015 its 2014 Occupational Employment and Wages studies. Results are used by corporations, unions and workers to establish and renew fair compensation indexes. Its Mean Hourly Wage of selected occupations shows:
*Legal [administrative employee] is paid $48.61/hour (thus, Notary’s pay for the above sample Order of 5h30m could be $267.35 plus $42.20 expense=$309.55.
*National Business and Financial $34.81 (Notary’s pay: $190.35 plus $42.20=$232.55).
*Food Preparation and Serving, such as fast-food franchises, $10.57 (Notary’s pay: $58.13 plus $42.20=$100.33).
Compare now the average national hourly wage with the fee Companies pay you: Average ranges $35-$100; meaning, a range from a loss of $7.20 to an income of $10.51/hourly wage.
The sample Order mentioned above offered me a $35 fee. No “problem”. I just would decline. But there was a “problem”! When three minutes later I was ready to email “Decline” (low pay!), I was impacted by the screen that popped up: “Sorry, Order has been already accepted by another Notary”.
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I’d rather stop being a Notary than carry a gun
Notaries have very conflicting attitudes about carrying guns. Some are violently against it, while others just see guns as a fact of life. For people growing up in Haiti or Israel, there are people with machine guns everywhere. It is just a fact of life. But for Americans, guns are not so common unless you are a gangster, or drive a pick up truck in a red state. So, how can Notaries defend themselves?
(1) Some Notaries let their husband know where they will be and to call the police if they don’t hear back from them by a particular time.
(2) Other Notaries carry pepper spray. Pepper spray is nice because you don’t do any real harm to the victim. It is not expensive, and not difficult to use. Additionally, you can use it on dogs. In my experience, dogs are more of a realistic threat to Notaries (and mailmen) than humans
(3) Some Notaries always place themselves between the signer and the door so they can run if the going gets rough. You would be surprised how much anger the APR can cause!
(4) At 123notary, we recommend getting advanced training in Okinawan Japanese style Notary-jitsu. Notary-jitsu teaches you how to defend yourselves from the tactics of violent borrowers. You learn to protect yourself from knife attacks, beatings, and small dogs that say “yap.” Yes, this all-inclusive training could save not only your life, but your dignity.
(5) Having a gun. Guns are dangerous. If you use a gun, you will end up in court, and possibly in jail. I am not convinced that having a gun is a good idea, however, in dangerous areas, you might not have a choice. Even in “safe” areas, you could encounter trouble at any time. There are many psycho people out there. They don’t come out all at once — only when you are not expecting it. For some reason, our local taco place has the nicest employees, but the freakiest customers. I have had to call the police once, and on another occassion a woman was beaten so that the thief could steal her mobile phone and then casually walk away — not run, but walk away.
A gun could save your life in an emergency, but pulling a gun could also get you shot. If you can’t pull your gun in time, the gun won’t save you either. Or if someone has you at gunpoint, it is too late to draw. It is up to you to figure out what to do.
(6) Bringing a large flashlight
I used to have a huge flashlight with me when I was doing pizza delivery back in the day. Military flashlights are the only method for being able to read the numbers on someone’s house. They can also be used as a weapon. I used such a weapon to kill once. Don’t get your hopes up, the victim was a rat, not a human. The rat had invaded my bedroom and jumped into bed with me and then ran away. I cornered it and herioically bludgeoned it with a bash to its head. It was all over in a second. He/she felt no pain.
(7) If you were Crocodile Dundee you would bring a huge knife to the signing table. If the signer offered you an apple and was cutting it with a knife, you could say, “That’s not a knife — THIS is a knife!”
It is up to you what types of weapons you use. In my opinion, all women should know some type of self defence. If someone has you from behind, you should know how to stamp on their food and elbow them. You never know when trouble will come, but you should be ready.
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