Don’t we all want market rates for our work? The Massachusetts Supreme Court has agreed.
Though this mainly affects static signings, almost every state has laws regulating the amount that may be charged for a notarization. Laws that when the average notary looks at the prices, it gives them the willies.
Notary pricing laws had a proper place and purpose. They ensured that everyone had access to notarize documents at a price that was reasonably affordable. The premise being that the need to the public outweighed the need to the notary.
So, the notary was allowed to charge a fair price and the signer knew they weren’t getting price gouged. A win-win as we like to call it.
A win-win at the time.
Market Rates Change with the Times
But, times move on. And the rates a notary could charge did not.
The notary was required to eat any new costs. The notary was held captive by inflation. None of these costs could be passed on to the consumer and work as a static notary went from a decent career to just a job, if one was lucky, which most are not.
Over time all the profit was gone and other businesses started to offer services as a loss leader. So, the corner store may offer notary services, or maybe a bank or other business. They weren’t making money. They were just getting people in the door.
Market Rates in Massachusetts
A Massachusetts notary had enough.
Massachusetts law was codified in 1836! How much inflation do you think has happened since then? Under most documents, he was only allowed to charge $1.50. That’s the price of a candy bar today! (and not even the king size)
State law bars notaries for charging more than $1.25 per document, but that he and his wife were charged $10 a document, so he wants his money backUniversal Hub
Now, was the $1.25 for every document? Or even correct? The court said it was not. That this was a misunderstanding of the law. One that needs to be fixed.
The important part here is the court affirmed the right of the notary to charge market values.
Why Have a Lawyer When You Can Have a Historian?
The rest of the case revolved around changes in society since 1836. Arguments over language. It appears common English spoke in the United States has evolved since then.
Go figure, huh?
So, once the historians had their say and explained to everyone what the law may have meant when they wrote it in 1836, the notary prevailed, even if the court said it was a misinterpretation.
A very important misinterpretation that took historians to attempt to parse. Note to lawmakers. If it takes a historian to tell you what a law may or may not mean, maybe it is time to update or scratch that law altogether.
But, why don’t we instead focus on the important takeaway.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled/affirmed that notaries may charge fair market prices.
New Notary Technology
Or does it?
Since mobile and online notaries offer services beyond notarization, prices charged are already at market price. Some might say that technology has helped us move on from 1836.
But, there are a couple of positive takeaways.
Mobile and online notaries are less likely to be subject to future draconian laws themselves. What if you were told you could only charge $25 for a mobile signing for the next 200 years?
Can anyone say conniption fit?
The other side is that it could make you more competitive in the market.
A Possible Market Rate Example
Why don’t we look at the corner store? They may now charge $20 for a document they used to charge, let’s say, $8 for.
You cannot compete with $8. You probably don’t even want to try, which is why you looked for more lucrative areas of the notary business to begin with.
But, at $20, you may be able to compete. It may give you access to a market you could not touch before. You offer convenience that cannot be matched, especially when you can charge competitive pricing.
And being more competitive in the market is never a bad thing.
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