In the topic: Why notary signing agents get burned, I wrote about signing service contracts, and the need to read them carefully.
Not only should notary signing agents read the contracts, they also need to read the instructions that come with the closing assignment. Failure to read and understand the instructions is another reason why signing agents get burned.
For example, these instructions tell the signing agent to get a copy of the borrowers ID:
I was reading on one of the message boards about a signing agent who did not get paid a full fee for a closing. They were only paid $25. The reason: the borrower cancelled the loan.
The signing agent printed the documents, drove a total of 2 hours, conducted the closing, which probably took another hour, and dropped off the documents, as well as other administrative tasks involved with the closing. All of that for $25.
Did the signing service cheat the signing agent? What could the signing agent have done to prevent this from happening?
It often happens that a signing service will disclose in the instructions what the fee will be if the borrower cancels. The signing service did have it in the instructions that the fee would only be $25 if the borrower cancelled. Unfortunately the signing agent doesn't get the instructions until after they have accepted the assignment.
So to answer the first question: Did the signing service cheat the signing agent? Not exactly. They revealed in the instructions what the fee would be if the borrower cancelled. Which brings us to the second question: What could the signing agent have done to prevent this from happening?
A good rule of thumb is to always find out over the phone, at the time you are called to do a closing, what the fee will be for situations like this. Don't accept an assignment unless the terms are agreeable to you. If the signing agent had asked the signing service what their fee would be if the borrower cancelled, the signing service would have been obligated to tell the signing agent. At that point the signing agent could have tried to negotiate a better deal. If that wasn't possible, the signing agent could have simply refused to do it. But if they accept the closing assignment, then they accept the risks.
The signing agent is putting the blame on the signing service. Actually the signing agent has no one to blame but themselves. Always read the instructions, and always know before accepting the closing assignment how much the company will pay if the borrower cancels or refuses to sign.