PO in an email?
Thread poster: Jekaterina Kotelnikova

Jekaterina Kotelnikova  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:41
English to Russian
+ ...
Jun 2, 2014

Hello! I have a question, as I have had a negative experience previously working for an agency without a PO and then trying to get paid, now I have a new project proposal - interpreting. The client (also an agency) sent me an email where the sum is written and their payment guidelines and they tell me that I should consider it as a PO. I am not willing to go through the same thing again and beg to be payed. Besides for this assignment first I have to spend about 200 EUR for the travel and accommodation expenses (which I have to organize myself, which I have never done before, everything was always done by the client) and get payed later.

Can anyone tell me if I should ask for a normal PO? And what should they write there? This is the first time I am working with them so...


 

Inna Borymova  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:41
Member (2013)
English to Russian
+ ...
Decline if you are not happy with that Jun 2, 2014

Have you checked the company on the BB? If not, do this. You can also ask for a PO or a contract detailing the conditions of your work- this is quite normal especially if they want you to spend your own money first. You do not have to agree to their terms if you are not happy with those - negotiate. Ask for a downpayment of travel expenses - in this case their willingness to make a contract will grow.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Put yourself out of pocket??? Jun 2, 2014

Jekaterina Kotelnikova wrote:
The client (also an agency) sent me an email where the sum is written and their payment guidelines and they tell me that I should consider it as a PO.

Can anyone tell me if I should ask for a normal PO? And what should they write there? This is the first time I am working with them so...

They are right - it constitutes a binding contract. I'm sure the correspondence you had with your previous client also constituted a binding contract - there's nothing magic about a PO that will get you paid. Of course, if nothing's down in writing then it's your word against theirs. But once things are in writing (and the courts - EU ones at least - will accept emails if they have the full source details available) then you are already on firm ground. If you can then prove that the client received the work and did not complain about it being unfit for use within a sensible period, then you have an unalienable right to be paid. Getting the money out of the client is unfortunately not always automatic, but it is required by law.


Besides for this assignment first I have to spend about 200 EUR for the travel and accommodation expenses (which I have to organize myself, which I have never done before, everything was always done by the client) and get payed later.

This is what really worries me. Arrangements may be made by either party but the absolute rule is that you must be reimbursed immediately for your out-of-pocket expenses. You might waive this requirement for a regular client that you trust, particularly if the job is to be done in the next few days, but never for an unknown client.

I have to say that I think your whole relationship with your clients may be a little skewed. You're the supplier, not an employee. You should be stating YOUR terms and conditions, not simply accepting theirs. In practice it's often easier to either accept their conditions or refuse the job, but if you always just accept whatever the client demands then I'm afraid some will treat you as a doormat.

Edit: On second reading of the above and your profile, I really do think that's your problem. You're a qualified, experienced and versatile translator who can work in many pairs. Yet you refer to your "employers" and you say you "beg" to be paid. Please don't beg your clients to pay: demand payment, firstly in a friendly and informal "it may have escaped your attention" way, and then in increasingly formal terms, stating that you will have no alternative but to turn to the courts to recover the debt. You neither have to beg nor threaten, you're simply escalating debt-recovery procedures - something businesses do all too regularly.

[Edited at 2014-06-02 12:52 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
All the time Jun 2, 2014

I get email PO's all the time from a number of customers and all goes very smoothly indeed. What is at stake here is whether a customer will be a reliable business partner. If they are not, no form of printed, signed, stamped, and sealed PO will keep you out of trouble. If they are reliable, a PO written on pencil on a used paper napkin is as good as a notarised 20-page agreement.

 

Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:41
Member (2013)
English to Italian
Agree Jun 2, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I get email PO's all the time from a number of customers and all goes very smoothly indeed. What is at stake here is whether a customer will be a reliable business partner. If they are not, no form of printed, signed, stamped, and sealed PO will keep you out of trouble. If they are reliable, a PO written on pencil on a used paper napkin is as good as a notarised 20-page agreement.


+1K


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
PO's Jun 2, 2014

An agreement (PO) between you and the customer you work with (not for) is valid and executable evidence of a contract in any written form.

You are a service provider, not a beggar. Consequently, you ask to be paid - or demand it, if the need to do so arise - but you definately don't beg to receive what you are rightfully entitled to.

Up-front expenses are, as our colelagues have mentioned, acceptable when requested by a reliable (always on time paying) client, perhaps due to time restrains (tomorrow). However, in this case the refund procedures of your expenses need to be outlined explicitely.

If you don't feel comfortable with this unknown client due to your previous negative experience, then you can either clarify your view point or, perhaps, be better off letting this job pass.


 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 09:41
German to English
+ ...
about PO's Jun 2, 2014

Many of the projects I do come from e-mail correspondence. Everything is spelled out, however. Otoh, one non-payment of a sizeable amount actually did involve a P0, which was not honoured and I am still chasing it. So a PO in and of itself is not a guarantee either.

 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the US Jun 3, 2014

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

I get email PO's all the time from a number of customers and all goes very smoothly indeed. What is at stake here is whether a customer will be a reliable business partner. If they are not, no form of printed, signed, stamped, and sealed PO will keep you out of trouble. If they are reliable, a PO written on pencil on a used paper napkin is as good as a notarised 20-page agreement.


I can't speak for other countries, but here in the US even an email conversation can constitute a contract, and a PO especially so.


 

xxLecraxx (X)
Germany
Local time: 16:41
French to German
+ ...
yes Jun 3, 2014

Triston & Gaby wrote:

I can't speak for other countries, but here in the US even an email conversation can constitute a contract, and a PO especially so.


In Germany, too.


 

Jekaterina Kotelnikova  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:41
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
asked them to cover the travel costs Jun 3, 2014

So, I have contacted the client and offered them to accept their e-mail PO if they cover the travel and accommodation expenses (this is the first time that the client asks me to cover these costs saying they will reimburse them later). They refused. There are still 9 days until the assignment date.

 

Pompeo Lattanzi
Italy
Local time: 16:41
English to Italian
+ ...
Do not worry about a lost job... Jun 3, 2014

Jekaterina Kotelnikova wrote:

So, I have contacted the client and offered them to accept their e-mail PO if they cover the travel and accommodation expenses (this is the first time that the client asks me to cover these costs saying they will reimburse them later). They refused. There are still 9 days until the assignment date.


... working and not getting paid is even worse, as it might cost you (in addition to out-of-pocket expenses and wasted time) the amount another job done in that time might have brought you.
Customers like those are better lost than found, as they cost you a lot of aggravation IF they pay, always late, and time to chase things up instead of producing. Don't think: "I've maybe lost a job", think: "I've saved myself a whole lot of troubles."
You will feel better and in a couple of days you will realize that when there are so many doubts it is better to say no straight away.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Systems alert: bells ringing; lights flashing! Jun 3, 2014

Jekaterina Kotelnikova wrote:

So, I have contacted the client and offered them to accept their e-mail PO if they cover the travel and accommodation expenses (this is the first time that the client asks me to cover these costs saying they will reimburse them later). They refused. There are still 9 days until the assignment date.

That sounds very much as though they are a little fearful that their client may cancel the assignment. If they have contracted to receive nothing until afterwards, they may worry they will be left with the bill. But they aren't worried about leaving you with the bill!

But maybe I'm being cynicalicon_wink.gif.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
That's a bad sign Jun 3, 2014

Jekaterina Kotelnikova wrote:

So, I have contacted the client and offered them to accept their e-mail PO if they cover the travel and accommodation expenses (this is the first time that the client asks me to cover these costs saying they will reimburse them later). They refused. There are still 9 days until the assignment date.


Say you take a plane to wherever they want you to be. When you get there, there is some festival going on, and the only place you find to sleep is a suite at the Ritz.

After the fait accompli, when you are gettling your account settled with them, they'll have someone from another department show you their policy manual: they'd only refund you for bus/train fares, and for an overnight stay at a standard room at the Ratz (sic!).

Bottom line is that you may have spent, say, EUR 200, and their policies - which you weren't aware of - limit your refund to EUR 47. The employee who hired you is very apologetic, says s/he would pay you from their own money if only they could afford it, but that's their corporate policy, can't help it!

What can you do then?


 

Jekaterina Kotelnikova  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:41
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
... Jun 3, 2014

This made me feel uneasy, to be honest. I have always worked with clients who organized everything themselves and covered all the expenses. So I think I will not accept the assignment.

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:41
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Your feelings Jun 20, 2014

Jekaterina Kotelnikova wrote:

This made me feel uneasy, to be honest. I have always worked with clients who organized everything themselves and covered all the expenses. So I think I will not accept the assignment.


This may be the best solution. If you don't feel right about this, if your guts alarm you, then you will be better off passing this offer. TMK expenses are paid by the client, and if you have to pay them first, then the refund procedure must be clear and, above all, found acceptable by you.


 


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PO in an email?

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