Manage Incoming Calls - Not easy for a Notary

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Manage Incoming Calls

When individuals call for non-signing work the first question they usually ask is “How much is a Notary.” Of course there is no simple answer based on the non-existent details. You need to find out details of the job request. It certainly would cost more than my usual fee if the assignment was at 4AM, 50 miles away and involved 38 signatures to be notarized! However, many consider it impolite to respond to a question with a question.

When receives such a question the answer is designed to both answer the asked question – that’s being polite – AND elicit proper information to give a fair and accurate quote to the caller. This statement has worked well for me. “The answer to your fee question is based on three factors, namely - what, where and when.” That shows I did indeed listen to their question and do want to give them the cost information they seek.

But, to answer they must give me some additional information. Often they ask “Can I come to you”” “Sorry, my published address is my residence and it is zoned residential and I am not permitted to conduct commercial operations at my home.” Note that the reply always references the asked question. Sometimes the caller starts to ramble on about what the affidavit is intended to accomplish. I mention that I am not permitted to pass judgment on the content of the document and my authority is limited to verifying the identity of the person signing the document.

Back to the basic “how much” situation. “Where would I be going to meet you” is usually my first question. Next, is the what needs to be done. That is often asked incorrectly and some accept that there are “some papers to be stamped.” The key question is how many signatures need to be notarized. On the when, with individuals – they are generally flexible and will accept a time that will fit into my route and schedule. The when also takes into consideration the traffic that I would have to deal with going to a specific location.

Don’t forget to ask the all important “How many copies of that document will you require to be notarized?” That will avoid a later “But they are just 15 copies and you should not be charging extra for them.”

Once you have the basic where, what, when and how many copies – you are in a position to give the caller a reasonable quote. Some will be delighted and want to schedule immediately; others will have to “check their schedule” and want to call back. If it’s a GO – always ask “and how will you be paying my fee?” – I don’t accept personal checks and offer a credit card payment facility on my web site.

Sometimes I don’t give the caller the option to pay cash. If they seem unhappy with the quote, and I feel they will be “shopping around” while I am in route to them – it’s PayPal only. And that payment is to be made prior to my departure to their location. Some balk – but having many positive reviews and an A+ BBB rating usually overcomes the “trust you will show up” issue.

They are calling you, but you must “manage” the call. It’s a fine line to be polite, and still get all the necessary information. Make sure the task is legal – eg: it’s illegal in NY to notarize a photocopy of a NY birth certificate; but a copy of a passport is fine.


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Kenneth Edelstein

The only A+ Accredited BBB NYC Notary
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