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Source of Title Blog

The Ethically Challenged Targets Signing Agents
by Robert Franco | 2007/12/28 |

Back in September, I ranted about what I considered to be a very unethical practice - notifying vendors that their fees were being reduced via email and placing the burden on them to contact the company if the fee reduction was unacceptable. In my opinion, if you want to negotiate a fee reduction you should get an "approval" from the vendor.

Now the same company, First American, has struck again; this time targeting the signing agents. In a mass email to their vendors, First American Signature Services will be changing their electronic document fee.

Due to current market conditions, effective January 1st, 2008 we will be changing our electronic document fee to $25 per signing order. This electronic document fee notification supersedes any previous fee agreements from First American Signature Services. If this fee reduction is not agreeable and you would like to be removed from our list of signing agents for business, please email our vendor relations team at fass.vr@firstam.com. Thank you for your understanding in this sensitive matter.


This email was followed up with a clarification.

Please be advised, the earlier fee change notification pertains to the electronic printing of documents only. This document printing fee is in addition to the standard signing fee paid per order.


My first problem with this email is First American's perception of who's fee this is: "...we will be changing our electronic document fee..." It isn't their fee, it is the signing agents' fee. If they want to change, or renegotiate, a vendor's fee they should contact them and see if they can work something out. It never hurts to ask, right? But, why ask when you can be this arrogant and tell the vendor what they will charge? Would they ever dream of emailing their electric company and telling them that they are changing the amount the electric company charges?

From what I have heard, the signing agents are much more defensive of their fees, and better organized, than the abstractors. I wonder how this will go over with that crowd. There is a discussion on the Notary Rotary forums and it doesn't appear that the email was accepted graciously.

$25 is the fee for an electronic signing. I told them to outsource it to India where they outsource their title work. I'm not driving to a borrowers home for that.

Come on people, are you that hard up to accept this fee change. Some of you are and this will help throw you out of the signing business. You will get what you deserve.


In fairness, there seems to be some confusion over the fee that is being reduced. Which is likely why the clarification was sent out. But, regardless, this is a very poor way to work with vendors.

Once again - it is First American. What is up with this company? They continue to prove that they are deserving of the "ethically challenged" label I slapped them with back in September. They have no respect for other professionals in the industry - where would they be today without their abstractors and signing agents?

Robert A. Franco
SOURCE OF TITLE
rfranco@sourceoftitle.com

Source of Title Blog ::




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Categories: Ethics, Notaries Public

739 words | 5331 views | 11 comments | log in or register to post a comment


The back lash of the signing agents...
The back lash of the signing agents to this notification over on Notary Rotary was vehement. The abstractors could learn much from them. 
by Kevin W. Ahern | 2007/12/28 | log in or register to post a reply

Most of the backlash is based on a ...
Most of the backlash is based on a misunderstanding of the email. The rest, so far, are attempts to correct the misunderstanding. I think you would see some pretty interesting chatter from abstractors if a customer attempted to unilaterally impose a 50% or 70% fee reduction on its vendors. 
by Pat Scott | 2007/12/28 | log in or register to post a reply

Robert is right; they don't care ab...
Robert is right; they don't care about the profession. First American looks at signing agents as nothing more than an expense.

First American has a great deal of leverage and they can pretty much get away with what they want, no matter how dishonorable it may be. These types of problems arise when you have an ever-increasing amount of power and resources held by a few corporations.

The business practices of First American are comparable to most conglomerates. They’re a machine that operates with no regard for its moving parts. I severed ties with them years ago.


 
by Shane Kane - TitleSuccess.com | 2007/12/28 | log in or register to post a reply

First American, First to **** Ameri...
First American, First to **** Americans, They came to Louisiana Bid a Job, Offered the local abstractors minimal money for it . I took a fee less than what I would charge 10 years ago (just to help as a local), & then they said it was to include copies. They bid for the Road Home Project Down here. Hadthe money bearing % in there accounts & now are scrambling to get the work done while people go into foreclosure left & right. I say the work should have been done by locals, at a fair price, but when we rebelled They brought in ousiders (Some speaking spanish)paid them more than they offered us and paid living expenses. First American is trying to build a NATIONWIDE Title Plant & put everyone else out of business or demand you work for pittance. I say REVOLT & REDUSE to do the work for them. 
by Peggy Pond | 2007/12/29 | log in or register to post a reply

I sense that First American is not ...
I sense that First American is not considering the pros and cons of this new system which they are implementing regarding reduction of a signing/abstractor fee. Shane Kane wrote: "They’re a machine that operates with no regard for its moving parts." This is absolutely correct and I concur with this saying 100 percent..
I have some concerns regarding the functionality of a company such First American; What about consumer’s perception? How about credibility?
It is evident that this new line of attack will reflect on the way of doing business; the results not going to be encouraging-- First American will have to change its configuration to bring benefits to increase this corporation relationship with vendors.
 
by Marie Sneed | 2007/12/30 | log in or register to post a reply

Glad I quit accepting jobs from the...
Glad I quit accepting jobs from them the last time they reduced our fees! BTW, this type of behavior is not limited to First American.

Kelly@SigningAgentCoach.com
 
by Kelly Robertson | 2007/12/31 | log in or register to post a reply

This warms my heart on a personal l...
This warms my heart on a personal level, as I turned down two rather appealing jobs in the past specifically because the companies were closely tied to First American.

The flip side is that they really, really disgust me on an ethical and professional level.

One more thing: "I told them to outsource it to India where they outsource their title work." This comment got a good laugh this morning. It was much needed!
 
by Ben Kohnen | 2007/12/31 | log in or register to post a reply

And how many of us have gotten call...
And how many of us have gotten calls to go out and fix a botched job another signing agent's (who has probably completed <5 signings) goofs.....so then they end up paying double. I love the outsource comment, too!  
by Pam Hoyle | 2007/12/31 | log in or register to post a reply

The irony is that this (nor any oth...
The irony is that this (nor any other) fee reduction is not passed on to the consumer. Never has been. Perhaps the vendors fees should be POC and reflected as such on the HUD. Then let them justify the closing/escrow fees. It appears that FASS is nothing more than an over priced referal system. 
by Zana Darrow | 2007/12/31 | log in or register to post a reply

FASS is a good Co to work for if yo...
FASS is a good Co to work for if you are newbie trying to get some closings under your belt.

I use to do a LOT of work for a Lenders Advantage team out of TX till FASS discovered I was doing more than 1000 closing a month. Then FASS cried like a bunch of little babies to the Corp office that they where loosing a bunch of work to a SS. They decided to stop using my services ASAP.

Never mind that FASS had an error ratio of over 10% in the previous 30 days to us doing the closings. We had an error ratio of less than 1% in the over 2500 closings we did in 2 1/2 months we did there closings.

Needless to say I wish no one would take any closings from FASS.

Anthony J Negrete
Negrete's Notary Service Inc.
www.negretesnotaries.com
 
by Anthony J Negrete | 2007/12/31 | log in or register to post a reply

The only way I'll ever support the ...
The only way I'll ever support the idea that those 'newbies' contracted by FASS and the like, for such paltry fees in return for 'on the job' training is WHEN/IF all those relying on their services are made aware that this is some type of pseudo-apprentice program.

Consumers AND lenders should be given that choice IN ADVANCE.
 
by Renee Kovacs | 2008/01/02 | log in or register to post a reply
Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco
SOURCE OF TITLE

 

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