How long should I wait for a PO?
Thread poster: HenriekeMarkert

HenriekeMarkert  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Italian to German
+ ...
Mar 27, 2015

Hi everyone,

I am just getting started and still unsure about some practices. Exactly a week ago I did a proofreading job for a client who told me he would send me the PO with the invoicing details. On Tuesday I send him an email asking when he would be able to send me the PO. Now it's Friday and I haven't heard from him. Does anybody has some advice?



Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:14
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Invoice it already! Mar 27, 2015

Hi Henrieke, welcome to the field and good luck!

As a rule, I refuse to make my business subject to others' flakiness, so if I haven't received a PO by delivery, I invoice the job myself. If they need me to reference a PO later on, I can always update the invoice keeping the original date issued and payment date.

Feel free to keep pestering them, but I've found with flaky agency clients that the thing that gets their attention is the proz blueboard. As soon as the payment is late, you can threaten to report it, and payment generally shows up thenicon_smile.gif


Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:14
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Don't start work without a PO Mar 27, 2015

After long years of experience, if the agency is one I haven't worked with before, I wouldn't start work until I'd received a purchase order setting out full details of the job. With tried and trusted clients, I'm happy to take their confirmation email as a purchase order.
Best of luck,


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:14
Member (2007)
+ ...
PO = their concern; invoice details = yours Mar 27, 2015

I never care a jot whether or not I get a PO from a client, and more often than not I don't. I always make sure that everything important about the job has been stated and agreed to in the exchange of emails. A PO is only going to repeat what you already know about the job and add a job number for their records.

But you should never accept a job if you don't have all the details you're going to need to invoice the client. Why work if you can't oblige the client to pay? Details (some of which are obligatory for every job) that I obtain are:

Job details: word-count (if charging per word), rate per unit (word, hour...), total (if it isn't just a multiplication e.g. if using a Trados-style grid), delivery deadline, delivery method (email attachment, file transfer...), file type in/out (unless it's obvious), formatting instructions (if any), contact name/email address/telno (for a new client)...
Payment details: method (wire transfer, PayPal...), deadline (I generally talk about "30 days" in emails, but the invoice has an actual date), currency (normally the same as the job one), responsibility for any fees (I normally work on a PYO - pay your own - basis), surcharges/discounts (late/early payments, urgency, unsocial hours...)...
Invoice details for a new client: client/company name and registered address (essential even though you'll probably send it to their email address - you can't start recovery procedures without this), tax no if nec...

Before agreeing to a job with a new client, I would check those invoice details against the web, as far as seems necessary. That could mean their own website (hmm - doesn't guarantee much), the Blue Board here, LinkedIn, scammers directories, maybe even the official company register of their country, maybe Google Earth... Much depends on what my nose is telling me and how much the job total is. Before accepting a second job from a client, I make sure payment for the first one has been received.

Of course, none of that helps you this time, Henriekeicon_frown.gif. As Tim suggests, as long as you know the client details for the invoice then there's nothing to stop you sending it. And you do have a perfect right to send it!


HenriekeMarkert  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Italian to German
+ ...
Thank you Mar 27, 2015

Thanks for your different viewpoints. I emailed them again and they instantly replied telling me to send the invoice just without waiting for the PO. I hope they'll be as quick as this about the payment too. I think I still need to get a little smarter about these things anyway reading your comments.

Thanks again, Henrieke


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I'm with Sheila Mar 29, 2015

I have one client who rarely sends the PO until after delivery, because for technical reasons we have to use the target word count.

We agreed on that right from the start, and with all the necessary details in an e-mail you already have a binding agreement.

On other occasions clients send the details for a job with a short deadline, and I have no time to wait for the PO. In fact some of my clients do not send out POs in that sense at all.

Make sure, however, that you have been given a firm go-ahead to translate.
I did once start on a job and ran into a problem. I found the client's mail to ask for help, and only then discovered that he had firmly written: DO NOT START YET - the end clients may cancel... which in that case they did. icon_frown.gif


Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Who cares about PO's? Mar 29, 2015

Some clients send PO's and some don't. Actually, I don't care.

Before I start a job, I send them my price and conditions and ask politely: 'Please confirm'.

As soon as the confirmation is in, I start. In that way I always got a proof of the mutual agreement. No confirmation, no translation.

[Edited at 2015-03-29 21:17 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-03-29 21:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-03-29 21:18 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-03-29 21:18 GMT]


Brittany Jones  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:14
Arabic to English
Blueboard does the trick Mar 30, 2015

I agree with the great detailed responses from my colleagues. As long as the main details are documented in prior communication, that should be enough of a basis for you to go ahead and send an invoice.

Also, as Tim stated, threatening to leave negative feedback on Blueboard can be an effective tool. I've only had problems twice with late payment. I emailed the agencies several times with no response after the 60 days deadline; however, the first emailed I sent mentioning Blueboard got at immediate response and payment within the next day.


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