Strike Three, Notary is Out – No Pay

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Strike Three, Notary is Out – No Pay

It’s your turn at bat. You’re walking from the dugout and glance at the scoreboard. You notice that, even prior to reaching the batter’s box; there is one strike against you. Many notary jobs start exactly the same way. You are going to a new client to notarize “some documents”. But, you did not receive your payment in advance. Yes, there is a “strike” against you; you are in route, burning gas and using time. Perhaps you will receive your fee. Order something on the internet, as most of you have; you had to pay in advance, they did not include an invoice for you to pay. So, starting with one strike against you; let’s continue to pay notary baseball.

Strike two comes when you arrive, and the client(s) are not there (yet?) or unavailable. You probably arrived 10 minutes early to the Starbucks to secure a table. Meeting a “big shot”? Well, their gatekeeper informs you they are “running behind” and offers you some coffee and asks that you “take a seat” while you wait. I once waited, with one strike against me, in the lobby for a “penthouse” person to tell lobby security to admit me. Half an hour later, “Mr. Screwya said your services will not be needed, please use the revolving door on your way out”. Ouch! If he had prepaid I would have charged him trip + waiting time. But, silly me, went on “hope”.

Strike three is the inability to make contact. You have to be careful with this one. Sometimes the client (in New York City) can be in the subway. Or, driving a car and not able to answer their phone. It is a good practice to call the contact number when you are “about” to travel to their location. Call it a confirmation call, the idea is to make sure you can reach the client. It’s also a good idea to inform them you will be making that call when you book the assignment. Let them know that if you are unable to reach them to confirm; you will not be arriving. The confirmation call also limits or eliminates “waiting on site” as you confirmed the time shortly prior to meeting.

Hmmmm, three strikes against you. You have no payment, have tried to make contact to no avail, and waited a reasonable amount of time. What to do? Well, this exact situation happened to me yesterday with a “regular” client. After half an hour (my personal maximum no contact wait time), I just left for my next assignment. I had to. Lateness of one client cannot be allowed to cause my lateness to the next scheduled appointment. My client did arrive almost an hour late and called me to proceed. As he did not call prior to being late, and did not answer the cell phone, I assessed an additional trip fee; if he wished to reschedule for the following day. He agreed.

That “trip fee” went to pay for my parking, fuel for the trip and keeping the engine in the car running to keep warm on a very cold day. Added together, those costs were about 5$, but the major portion was for my time. Yes, my time. Personally, I think my time is more valuable than any other person’s time. If you feel differently, I suggest you reflect a bit on your self image.

On the other hand; if you don’t start with one strike against you; the outlook is brighter. I have had many “cancellations”, for various reasons after receiving my fee. Generally they tell me to “keep it” and are disinterested in a discussion of prorating. I consider this fair. Travel and waiting time is equivalent to travel and processing; timewise. What never happened is a case where the affiant was unable to “make it” and subsequently made a payment. Human nature I guess. Most notaries are gentle creatures, performing a legal and necessary service. However, the loan shark’s expression, when payment is lacking and a limb must be broken; applies to us too. “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.” (The payment, not the limb!).

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