St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 31, 2013 – A Springfield, Ill., business that sells rubber stamps and insurance coverage to Illinois notaries has come under fire from customers who say their orders were delayed for months or never delivered at all, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns.
The BBB suggests caution when dealing with Illinois Notary Federation. Jason Adam Gold of Springfield is listed with the Illinois secretary of state as the most recent president of Illinois Notary Federation.
The business has an “F” rating with the BBB, the lowest possible. The BBB reports more than 40 complaints involving the company in the past year, most of which went unanswered.
“I’ll know better next time,” said a notary from Belleville who said she has never received her order six months after sending the company a $45 fee.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said almost all of the complaints have been filed in the past 12 months. “Customers are waiting five or six months, or even longer, to get ordered items,” she said. “In some cases, these delays have meant that notaries have had to stop doing their work entirely, as they wait for their renewal materials.”
Illinois Notary Federation has the same toll-free number as Wisconsin Notary Federation, Florida Notary Federation, Texas Notary Federation and Michigan Notary Federation.
The Michigan Notary Federation also is the focus of several BBB complaints and has an “F” rating with the BBB in that state.
Most of Illinois Notary Federation’s information recently was removed from its website (www.ilnotaryfederation.com) and a note added that it is not currently taking new applications. The site directs customers to an Orlando, Fla., business, Accredited Surety and Casualty Company.
Sharon Jallad, chief operating officer of Accredited Surety and Casualty, said Illinois Notary Federation has worked as an agent for her company. She said Accredited Surety and Casualty insures notaries and, in recent weeks, has been assisting consumers who have had problems with Illinois Notary Federation.
“They were having operational issues and our company felt it necessary to make sure their customers got serviced,” Jallad said. “We want to be proactive.”
Jallad said she could not say exactly why Illinois Notary Federation got into trouble, saying only, “sometimes agents run into personal issues.” She said customers who have experienced problems with the company may contact her office at 407-629-2131.
The BBB could not reach officials with the Illinois Notary Federation.
Until recently, the website for Illinois Notary Federation included marketing materials that identified the company as “a one-stop shop for all your notary needs.” The website offered a basic notary package for $45, a deluxe package for $115 and a premium package for $166. All packages included a self-inking stamp, a four-year $5,000 bond, a $5,000 errors and omissions insurance policy, state filing service and a window sticker.
Most BBB complainants said they ordered the basic package at least several weeks before their four-year commission was due to expire. When the stamp and proof of insurance did not arrive, they often had to go to other companies with their orders. The complainants said they phoned and emailed Illinois Notary Federation numerous times, but received no response.
Most complainants said they learned of the company when it sent them mail solicitations near the end of their four-year commissions.
A notary at a Campbell Hill, Ill., high school said she ordered her materials on Aug. 17, well in advance of the Sept. 30 expiration date of her certificate. She said that after filing complaints with the BBB and the Illinois attorney general’s office, she finally received her stamp in December. She said the company provided no explanation for the delay. “I would never order from them again,” she said.
A notary from Highland, Ill., said she was granted a refund by her credit card company when she had not received her notary materials in a timely manner. She said she finally received her stamp in December, more than four months after her order and after she already had ordered the stamp from another company. “I couldn’t keep waiting on them,” she said.
The BBB offers the following advice when ordering products online:
- Buy from a reputable business whenever possible and be wary of businesses you know little or nothing about.
- Before ordering, make sure the company lists a phone number and make sure you can speak to someone by phone prior to placing your order. This is important in case you have problems with your purchase.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible in the event you need to challenge the charge later.
- Check out the company’s BBB Business Review by calling 314-645-3300 or by going to www.bbb.org.
Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, email@example.com, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, firstname.lastname@example.org