A purchase order without a signature is still valid?
Thread poster: Andreas Nieckele

Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:06
English to Portuguese
Apr 8, 2009

I never insisted on purchase orders before. After spending some time on these forums and reading excellent advice from more experienced translators, I decided to play safe and demand a PO before starting any translation work.

So, today I get my first PO, from a direct client. Lo and behold, it's missing a signature. Everything is clearly described: the name of the company, the number of words to be translated, the payment total, even the name of the person from the purchasing department who's been in contact with me.

But there's a field on the bottom called "Authorized Signature" which is blank. Will this PO do me any good in case the worst happens?

I'm somewhat worried because during our email exchanges, I quoted my usual rate and they said "But when you replied to our ad you quoted $0.0X per source word." X being half of my rate. I don't remember quoting half my usual rate, but I reply to a lot of ads looking for translators so this COULD be my mistake.

I would appreciate some advice. Thanks.

[Edited at 2009-04-08 20:53 GMT]


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Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 16:06
Spanish
+ ...
I've never received a PO with a signature Apr 9, 2009

Ever. As long as all the terms are clearly stated, a PO without a signature is perfectly valid. I'd be more cautious about them having my rates cut in half.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:06
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never received a signed PO.... Apr 9, 2009

....in 13 years in business! Yes, a PO without a signature is perfectly OK.

As for the rate... It is tricky indeed, and is the result of quoting way under your usual rate when you are very available or when a job is awfully interesting for you or right your specialty. We should always quote at or around our standard rate even if that drives away customers with a short translation budget. Quoting at our rate pays in the long run!

In this particular case, if the job is not very large, I see no option but to do the job at the low rate (or a rate half-way between your usual rate and the low rate you quoted), but with the agreement that, if they like the results, you will renegotiate the rate for future jobs.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 23:06
English to Hungarian
+ ...
offers made Apr 9, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:

I'm somewhat worried because during our email exchanges, I quoted my usual rate and they said "But when you replied to our ad you quoted $0.0X per source word." X being half of my rate. I don't remember quoting half my usual rate, but I reply to a lot of ads looking for translators so this COULD be my mistake.



Well, which rate does the PO contain? Anyway, what you do in this situation is you look up said email in your sent folder and see what's up. If you can't locate it and the rate is still being negotiated you could ask the company to tell you the date and time of the email so you can find it. If you did indeed offer the low rate, you are bound by it, in my view.


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 18:06
Need PO only from clients outside the country I live in Apr 9, 2009

As far as I am concerned, I ask for a PO only from clients outside Germany and Austria. My domestic clients can give me an assignment per email, indicating the price, deadline, etc.

Foreign clients must send me a PO. I 've never had one with a signature. I think most clients are too busy to sign and scan a PO.

Trust your instinct. Work only for clients you feel comfortable with.

Good luck.


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Victoria Burns  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:06
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Signed POs are very rare Apr 9, 2009

In my two years as a freelance translator I have received hundreds of POs, only a handful of which have been signed, and they have all been from the same two companies who seem to like signing all documents. I'd say 99% of the POs I receive, when I do receive them, are not signed and I've never had any problems.

As for the rate issue, as the previous poster states, this is the danger with quoting a particularly low rate. It almost always comes back to bite you on the behind! I agree with him, too, that if you agree to do this job at either the lower rate or at a compromised rate, you should definitely state that this would be a one-off and that your usual rate is much higher.

All the best,

Victoria


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:06
Member
French to English
+ ...
Like others have said... Apr 9, 2009

I require either a PO from the client stating all agreed terms, conditions, rates, etc. or a quote that I issue myself which states all such information.

When I issue a quote I require it to be signed and returned, but I do not require POs to be signed and neither do most of my clients.

Yesterday I received a signed PO and was asked to sign and return it to the client, but this is not standard practice with my other clients (this was a new client). It was of course no problem to do so.

I'm fairly certain that even an email which clearly states rate, number of words, deadlines, and other details can legally serve as a PO, although personally I prefer to ask for a PO or issue a quote, just to be on the safe side.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:06
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Perfectly OK Apr 9, 2009

But DO check what your legal system is like. In some countries, even oral commitments can be binding. These tend to accept e-mails and electronic documents more than others.

The other half of your worries is what could happen to you in the event of non-fulfilment. (After all, they DO need the service). It takes two to tango, as they say.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:06
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A different concern Apr 9, 2009

Andreas Nieckele wrote:
So, today I get my first PO, from a direct client. Lo and behold, it's missing a signature. Everything is clearly described: the name of the company, the number of words to be translated, the payment total, even the name of the person from the purchasing department who's been in contact with me.

But there's a field on the bottom called "Authorized Signature" which is blank. Will this PO do me any good in case the worst happens?


If you are dealing with the bad guys, there will always be a loophole for them. The scribbling there might have been done by anyone. So you'd demand a notarized signature. Good! You know who signed it. But then you'll need (cetified?) copies of all the client's paperwork evidencing that the individual is actually authorized to sign that.

Paranoia is not illegal!

Andreas Nieckele wrote:
I'm somewhat worried because during our email exchanges, I quoted my usual rate and they said "But when you replied to our ad you quoted $0.0X per source word." X being half of my rate. I don't remember quoting half my usual rate, but I reply to a lot of ads looking for translators so this COULD be my mistake.


This seems to be the catch. I hope you have filed copies of all your quotes/e-mails, so you can check. As we say it here, maybe they are playing a "se colar, colou" on you, to see if it will hold water.

I wouldn't care so much about the signature on the PO as regarding the "wrong" rate.

The point in a PO is to make sure that the parties have agreed on what's to be done, price and delivery date. Quite often the fail to mention payment terms and methods, which are supposedly set elsewhere, often by permanent, specific-job-unrelated policies.

If either side is one of the bad guys, the PO will just be organized evidence of what was initially agreed. An e-mail exchange may be disorganized evidence of the same thing.

Last year I received a very detailed USD 3K+ proofreading PO from a translation agency as big and reliable as it gets, together with all the original text files. I was told that the translations were under way. On the next day, the end-client put the whole job 'on hold'. So I never got the translations to proofread. FOUR MONTHS later, the PO was finally cancelled. The PO listed all kinds of sanctions in case I delivered the job late or in any way badly done; however it failed to consider the possibliity of compensating me for having remained in standby for any considerable period of time.

Quite frankly, on that occasion I should have been more paranoid, and pressed them against the wall earlier.


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Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 18:06
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
To clarify... Apr 9, 2009

Thanks everyone for your input! It was very helpful.

I should have made the story more clear: After they asked about my rates, I replied and insisted on my full rate, adding that a half rate quote from me could only be possible if this was a very old ad. With no further questions asked, they just sent me the PO.

I take it they were not very pleased when they found out this translation would cost twice what they expected (it's a 100 page manual), so I was afraid someone might say "Oops! We forgot to sing it!" down the road.

Thanks again.

[Edited at 2009-04-09 14:08 GMT]


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