Can an email serve as PO?
Thread poster: Davide Negro

Davide Negro  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
English to Italian
+ ...
Apr 15, 2010

I have just finished providing a proofreading service for an agency based in Germany. The problem is that I have not received any PO from them so far. We have emailed each other simply agreeing on the deadline. My question is the following: is it normal? Or do you think I can encounter problems when it comes down to being paid? Can an email be a "bounding contract"?
Any suggestion will be appreciated.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
Member (2007)
+ ...
Don't panic! Apr 15, 2010

Davide Negro wrote:

is it normal?


Or do you think I can encounter problems when it comes down to being paid?

That's always possible, of course, but not purely because you don't have a PO

Can an email be a "bounding contract"?

Yes, it can be a binding contract - so can the spoken word. And contracts, even those on "official" documents, don't necessarily stand up in court.

In short, don't worry, but do make sure you get them to clearly specify wordcount, rate, deadline, payment terms etc or specify them yourself and get their confirmation (even if it's only on the basis of "if I don't hear from you, I'll assume you agree")


Davide Negro  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:55
English to Italian
+ ...
Thanks Apr 15, 2010

Many thanks for your help:-)


Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
Oh yes Apr 15, 2010

I've only ever had one client who actually used to send me downloadable POs, the rest just enclose instructions within the e-mail, without or without a PO reference. If the request has come in by phone I do ask them to put it in an e-mail.

And the only client who has failed to pay.... the one who sent me the printable POs!


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
English to French
+ ...
E-mails can be used in lieu of a PO, but check your local regulations Apr 15, 2010

In most countries, any agreement, whether written or spoken, official or not, is considered to be a binding contract. You would have to check local regulations to see if this is your case.

I have many clients with whom I have developed a relationship of mutual trust and who never send formal POs, and it seems to me to be widespread practice. Of course, it is always best to have an official PO, but if a client doesn't send you one, don't be hasty in concluding there is something wrong with the transaction. Politely ask for a formal PO and say that you need it for your files to be in good order.

In time, you will develop a sense of which clients are to be trusted without asking for a PO.


Ali M. Alsaqqa  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:55
English to Arabic
My opinion Apr 16, 2010

Well, my first job was very exciting, I remember that the agency sent me a PO (an attached .doc file with their email). I, then, wondered whether or not this could be real or not, but fortunately they paid me on time.


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Can an email serve as PO?

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