Task cancelled after PO sent.
Thread poster: Jan Schauseil

Jan Schauseil  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:48
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Mar 19, 2011

I got a PO and written confirmation for an 11,000 word task on Thursday and started translating. I also set my availability to "Not available" for 2 other agencies. Then the client cancelled the project on Friday evening. I have already translated 3,000 words. What are my chances of getting paid, in full or in part?

[Edited at 2011-03-19 07:28 GMT]

"A purchase order is a document sent to a supplier or vendor, authorizing shipment of a product to the customer at a specified price and terms. The creation of a purchase order creates a legally binding contract which cannot be changed without the consent of both parties."

"A purchase order creates an "encumbrance" or "lien" dedicating funds at the time the purchase order is originated by the purchasing department."

[Edited at 2011-03-19 12:10 GMT]


Local time: 13:48
French to English
+ ...
you should at least get paid in part Mar 19, 2011

If this may help: one agency I work with will pay the part of the translation that has been completed, if they cancel after the PO was issued.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why in full? Mar 19, 2011

You cannot reasonably expect anybody to pay you for something you haven't done. Charge for the part you have done, and deliver it to the customer of course.


Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:48
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
partial payment only Mar 19, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

You cannot reasonably expect anybody to pay you for something you haven't done. Charge for the part you have done, and deliver it to the customer of course.

I agree. You cannot expect full payment, but obviously they must pay you for the work you did up the time of cancellation.

[Edited at 2011-03-19 07:01 GMT]


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:48
Member (2007)
+ ...
What's right and what's likely Mar 19, 2011

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

You cannot reasonably expect anybody to pay you for something you haven't done.

As Jan said, he made himself unavailable to other jobs for the period and by rights he should be compensated for that. In some areas of business he would be but probably not in ours.

Charge for the part you have done, and deliver it to the customer of course.

That will likely be paid for by the client. Deliver what you've done with the invoice and you will have all the paper necessary to demand that payment, in court if necessary. Of course, if the client refuses to pay then you're in the usual situation of having to decide how far to chase them.

I hope they are a reasonable agency. Good luck.

Editied to add this P.S.
There are good agencies out there who care. Wearing my trainer's hat, I had an end client who kept cancelling at short notice. That was within my T&C - I was paid. Then they decided to pull out altogether and I just assumed that was that - no more lessons, no more pay. Then I received a cheque from the agency - their own T&C had said that payment for the entire course was due and they split the remainder 50/50 with me. Needless to say, I still work with this agency!

[Edited at 2011-03-19 07:10 GMT]


LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:48
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Terms and Conditions Mar 19, 2011

Most agencies collect 50% up front and should have provided their client with a written cancellation policy in their terms and conditions. Therefore, they could easily deduct your fee for the 3,000 words (and compensation for themselves if they want) from this pre-payment before returning the balance to the client.

For a direct client, you should always collect at least 50% up front and make your cancellation policy clear in your terms and conditions.


Therrien  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:48
English to French
+ ...
50% Collection should be desirable... Apr 10, 2011

... but I've never seen it with any of my agency clients. Direct, corporate clients, yes. Never agencies. Maybe I'm not tough enough.

Technically, a PO is the seal which contracts you to do the job, and finish it. Unless there is a cancelation clause, there's no "cancelation" of a PO. You could make up your own policies to penalize the client for whatever fee and they'd be technically legally bound to pay it. But good luck collecting it.

For goodwill, good business practices and to keep the client coming for more later, I just send the work done and submit my invoice for the work produced.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:48
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's unlikely that you'll get one cent for it Apr 10, 2011

Years ago, I had a similar case, much worse.

A large translation agency, a small division of a much, much larger international corporation hired me for a 120K words proofreading project to be done in less than a week. They sent me the original files (said that 9 translators were working on it) with a very formal and complex PO, crammed with penalties to me in case I failed to do this or that as requested.

However the translated files didn't come on the date promised, yet I was told to stand by, as they should come any minute, and I should then drop everything and work non-stop on them until finished. They kept stalling me, asking me to stand by, as the project was "on hold" and could be released any time. So I kept turning down each and every large and/or urgent project.

To make a long story short, they kept me standing by for... four months! ... until the project was finally cancelled. They told me they sustained severe losses in that project, yet none of these were caused by payments made to me.

Translation agencies are conceptually built on the profit they make on your work done and paid for. If they get indemnified by the end-client (unlikely!) from having booked your time, they might share part of that (unlikely!) with you. If an agency has to indemnify you from their own money, even if it is by their own fault, they won't be still in business next week.


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Task cancelled after PO sent.

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