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Poll: Do you ask for purchase orders before proceeding to jobs?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 09:15
SITE STAFF
Jan 13, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ask for purchase orders before proceeding to jobs?".

This poll was originally submitted by Erika C

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 23:15
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Always Jan 13, 2007

In order to be safe and certain, I always ask for PO before working on any jobs.

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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Jan 13, 2007

In the case of our regular customers, waiting for a PO would delay the pace of work both for us and for the customer. So we sometimes get the PO a week after completing the job. As long as we have the PO by the end of the month for our invoice, we're fine.

And in the case of a new customer, a PO does not offer any assurance that you will be paid in the end if the customer will not pay, so we don't wait for it either. Of course we prefer to have one, but we risk it and start the job even without a PO.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:15
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never Jan 13, 2007

For the same reasons as Tomás. Customers also always seem to send a PO without asking :=)

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:15
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I* answered "Always", but ... Jan 13, 2007

I answered "Always", but occasionally, with an established client whom I know well, I'll start a job before receiving the purchase order, when the client is particularly pressed. In any case, the client should be able to give you the order number on the telephone or by email, even if they haven't time to send the actual purchase order.
Tomás says a purchase order won't help you get paid, but at least it's tangible proof that the order was issued, delivery date and rate agreed, etc.
With a new client I wouldn't dream of taking on work without a purchase order.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 19:15
Turkish to English
+ ...
I take the risk Jan 13, 2007

At one time I always used to insist on getting a PO from agencies and on private clients signing and faxing back a short contractual agreement. Nowadays I am more relaxed and just accept any work I am capable of doing on request from any source: if they don't pay they won't get any more work from me. I haven't actually experienced much default since I started using this policy. I regard the small amount that is lost through non-payments as being a kind of marketing expense in that it is easier to attract new clients if you cut out the red tape. Having said that, I would have to adopt a different stance if an unknown client approached me with a mammoth assignment. The risk of working on a purely oral/e-mail based agreement would be too great under those circumstances

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Annette Heinrich  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:15
English to German
+ ...
Other Jan 13, 2007

Some customers (new or established) automatically send POs. In fact, most of my customers do.
In all other cases, I at least make sure that I have a written "go" from the customer - usually in form of e-mail correspondence - as a proof that the customer definitely ordered the job. This correspondence should include all necessary details (pricing, deadline etc.).
Or in other words: I would never accept an oral "go" on the phone after the customer just sent me the files. The same applies to cancellations of orders - never without a written proof!


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Chanda Danley  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nice to have, but don't help you get paid any faster Jan 13, 2007

I've never had to ask for a PO. All of the agencies I work for always send a PO or I keep the emails where they state their requirements for the job. Most of my direct clients do not send POs, they just send an email detailing their request. I really think that the email is as legally binding as the PO, but maybe I'm wrong about that. In any case, for customers who don't pay on time and especially really late ones, I'm not convinced that just having a PO will make them pay up any sooner or at all even. Then again, maybe I'm off on this...just my own two cents worth...

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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:15
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Confirmation to proceed by email is good enough Jan 13, 2007

We used to ask for POs in the beginning but now we don't. If they send us one, fine, but if they don't we don't make an issue of specifically asking for one. Once everything is agreed we just ask them to confirm for us to proceed and then once they do, that's the go-ahead.

Call me a cynic, but I really think that if a client doesn't pay then he/she had no intention of paying from the beginning, PO or no PO. Of course, there will be non-payers or reduced payments due to poor quality, which is fair enough, but I think for those who are unscrupulous enough not to pay because they're just plain rotten then they would be unscrupulous enough to send a PO anyway, knowing full well that they're not going to pay.

Touch wood, we haven't come across a non-payer yet, but if and when that does happen, I very much doubt whether having a PO would make a difference.

Here's to 2007 and prompt payments for everyone:)
Mark


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 11:15
English to Russian
+ ...
N/A Jan 13, 2007

I might be wrong but it seems like POs are some strictly Eastern hemisphere things. I hunt on the US soil. In the US an email and signing the CAa once a year do the trick for me. On rare occasions I sign separate and very simple 1-page contracts for interpretation assignments w/travel, always on a client's initiative. Reasons - confirmation of the assembled team for the end client, badging and like.

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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
New customer, huge assignment... Jan 13, 2007

Tim Drayton wrote:
Having said that, I would have to adopt a different stance if an unknown client approached me with a mammoth assignment.


I could not agree more! We have had such cases in the past. If the new customer got in touch because some colleague (or another customer) of ours recommended our services, or if the job only requires several hours of work, we simply go ahead.

In case it's a company completely unknown to us and the job could mean several weeks of work, in our RFQ we always request a pre-payment of 1/3 of the total price before starting. If the customer does not accept that... we let the job go! I like to believe that this approach has saved us a lot of trouble, but we never know when we might have lost a potentially excellent customer.


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Paula Manrique Huarte
Spain
Local time: 18:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Useful for billing purposes Jan 13, 2007

I agree with you folks when you say it won't help you get paid... but I also think I will help you avoid unpaid jobs.

So have I learnt from my particular experience with a translating agency.

Their POs include a reference number necessary to upload the invoice on their payments system. Without it, there is no way you can upload said invoice.

Sadly for me, I accepted two overnight assignments that were needed in such a hurry that I didn't get the PO in time. After the job was delivered (in time, I didn't sleep that night) the Project Manager just forgot to send me the POs, no matter how many times I repeatedly asked for them.

As a result, I haven't got paid for those jobs yet, and I don't know when or if I will. Total, 20,000 words for nothing.

But I learnt my lesson, I never start working without a PO!


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Report the bad customer in Proz! Jan 14, 2007

Paula Manrique wrote:
As a result, I haven't got paid for those jobs yet, and I don't know when or if I will. Total, 20,000 words for nothing.


I reckon you might be able to report in Proz who that agency was, so that other people don't fall in the trap!


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