client "can't provide PO"
Thread poster: Brian KEEGAN (X)

Brian KEEGAN (X)
Local time: 20:32
French to English
+ ...
Dec 7, 2004

I need some advice: My name was given by one of my steady and reliable clients to a new potential client for a very large translation project. My proposal has been accepted by the client, a large multinational corporation based in Germany (this is a serious company, in the same league as Siemens or one of the big auditing firms). I've asked for a purchase order, but they say they don't have an official purchase order for this kind of service (which seems strange to me). What should I do: proceed with the translation on the grounds that the client is a multinational with a reputation to uphold, and hence won't default on the payment, or insist on obtaining a PO? In the event of option one, would a copy of my proposal signed by the client be an adequate substitute for the PO?
Any suggestions or advice would be welcome!


Horst2  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
English to German
+ ...
Not possible! Dec 7, 2004

In nowadays ( Germany or elsewhere ) business administrations standards, there is now company of the type you describe that cannot issue a PO. No excuse. No exception,


Sonja Tomaskovic (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
English to German
+ ...
Issue one yourself Dec 7, 2004

To my understanding, this client is a direct client. If I am correct then you should issue a PO yourself.

When you buy a prodcut, let's say a DVD player or something else on the internet, you usually expect the seller to confirm this by issuing a PO or any other form of confirmation that you have actually placed an order.

I think that this is basically the same situation: you are the seller, and they are buying from you. IMO, you should issue a PO yourself and send it to them. Ask them to sign it and fax it back.




Local time: 20:32
French to English
It may very well just not be standard practice for them... Dec 7, 2004

... and doesn't necessarily mean they're trying to con you. I have never signed a purchase order, always agreed things verbally (over the phone) or in an email confirmation, and never had a payment problem with my occasional big-league clients - except for the length of time it takes them (here in France, as you probably know, two months after the end of the month the bill was issued can be normal...).

I'm sure they could issue a PO, but you could simply get them to confirm the order in an email, say (without necessarily referring to the term "purchase order"). Or as Sonja says, supply your own purchase order. If they think it's odd, tell them it's your own business procedure - if necessary tell them your accountant requires it!


Deborah Shannon  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
Member (2002)
German to English
Good line Buzzy! Dec 7, 2004

Buzzy wrote:

if necessary tell them your accountant requires it!

That should do the trick!

I agree with Sonja, it's up to us to get a written contract because we're the ones who will need it in the unfortunate event that it comes to chasing payment. (Or settling other disputes).

For normal jobs without a PO I send an email setting out the job details, agreed rate, deadline and payment terms, and requesting the name and address to which the invoice should be sent. I ask the contact person to reply confirming that they agree with my terms and conditions so that I can start work.

But Brian, if this is a sizeable or long-term project, as you seem to be saying, I would go further and send a detailed contract. It can also include arrangements for a down-payment and staged payments, issues like cancellation mid-job, charges for late amendments, etc.

After I send my contract, I call to talk them through it, make any changes the client asks for, and have them fax it back to me signed. Especially with a new client, I feel that putting everything in writing is essential, and saves endless confusion later on.

[Edited at 2004-12-07 17:45]


Brian KEEGAN (X)
Local time: 20:32
French to English
+ ...
thanks for advice Dec 8, 2004

Dear Horst, Buzzy, Deborah and Sonja,

Thanks for your valuable advice, and thanks for taking the time to provide it!!! I really appreciate it!! In the end I phoned the client, and they said they would send me a letter of confirmation together with a signed copy of my quote, which I think is fine. As for POs in general, there seems to be some confusion as to whether the client or the translator should issue the PO. Frankly, it isn't clear to me either way. One of my agency clients who I phoned for advice told me the buyer should provide the PO, but when I buy a computer or whatever, I don't write the contract... Maybe it's immaterial who writes the PO or other written confirmation as long as it exists, is signed by the client, and is enforceable?

Cheers from Paris!



Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:32
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
I think so Dec 8, 2004

Brian KEEGAN wrote:
Maybe it's immaterial who writes the PO or other written confirmation as long as it exists, is signed by the client, and is enforceable?

I think that what's important is that both parties agree and sign, and that in the P.O. you can read all the details you agreed on, such as delivery, format, content, rate, confidentiality, payment and so on.
I often work with direct clients that found me in the Internet, and I don't accept starting without a P.O. Until now it has always been my model, but wouldn't mind signing theirs.



inkamaria (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
English to German
+ ...
purchase order Dec 9, 2004

Hi, they probably just proceed without PO, not uncommon with major companies in Germany, the email / fax which contains all job details (and the agreed price) is sufficient enough. I have various clients in Germany (all major companies) who never heard of a PO and who just mail over the job and pay on time.


Helene Diu  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:32
Member (2004)
English to French
Same as Sonja Dec 10, 2004

Sonja Tomaskovic wrote:

IMO, you should issue a PO yourself and send it to them. Ask them to sign it and fax it back.

That's what I do when the client does not issue a P.O. I ask them to stamp & sign my initial quote and fax it back, or if discussions where conducted without an initial quote, I issue a "confirmation quote" stating all items/conditions agreed on, and in the same fashion request that they sign it and fax it back before I start on the job, or send the completed job

In all cases, the minimum should be to obtain a confirmation e-mail, which you can print and save.

Good luck with the job!



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client "can't provide PO"

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