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Poll: Have you ever started working on a translation project without a Purchase Order (PO)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 19:27
SITE STAFF
May 21, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever started working on a translation project without a Purchase Order (PO)?".

This poll was originally submitted by kdeimling

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
English to Arabic
+ ...
A simple email is enough May 21, 2009

If a client sends me an email asking "Could you do this job by next Monday, how much do you charge" and I reply "£..." and they reply, "That's great, please go ahead", that's as good as any PO for me. Has worked for me for years (provided the client is trustworthy of course!)

[Edited at 2009-05-21 08:29 GMT]


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
French to English
+ ...
Trust May 21, 2009

My clients work in different ways. Some send formal POs, some don't. If I don't have a PO, like Nesrin I ensure that I have all the relevant details and permission to proceed before I start work.

The one non-paying client I have worked for (actually a fraudster impersonating a legitimate agency) sent me a perfectly official-looking PO. The difference between him and the rest of my clients was that it was impossible to find any proper information about him. I haven't made that mistake again


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 04:27
English to French
+ ...
Trust indeed May 21, 2009

When there is an emergency, I sometimes hand in the translation before I get a PO, a job number or any kind of confirmation. My confirmation to the client that I will do the job is important for the PM to stop looking for someone!
I do this with regulars only though!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 04:27
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Yes, but only for trusted clients May 21, 2009

I do a lot of small jobs and the deadlines are often tight.

But for a client I know and trust, I am quite happy to meet the deadline first and sort out the formalities at leisure.

If I don't know the client and it is a small rushed job... well, apart from irritation, the risk is not so great. It might be a great way to help a potential new client out. It depends on my gut feeling about the client.

I would do a job for someone asking politely and recommended by a good colleague, but probably not for someone out of the blue sending a scanty mail in poor English!

I would never take on a large job without having the formalities in order - if there is no time, then the deadline is too tight and I'm not interested.

In practice I have only ever had trouble with people who send impressive looking POs and NDAs and the lot. Most of them are just playing safe and it's not a problem, but when I have had trouble getting paid, all the paperwork looked fine before I started!!

[Edited at 2009-05-21 09:25 GMT]


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Wil Hardman  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
In my expereince PO is no indication of good working conditions May 21, 2009

Some smaller clients I work with never send a PO, a confirmation email is fine. And interestingly my experience with these clients has generally been better, they are more likely to pay on time, the overall conditions are better and if it's a proof-reading, the quality of the translation is usually higher.

Not to say that companies that are more official and use POs are necessarily worse, but that sometimes more informal companies are nicer to work for. I would say, however, that all of my negative translation/proofreading experiences have been with companies that actually issue POs.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:27
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Define "Purchase Order" May 21, 2009

In Spanish small-claims courts an e-mail counts for one.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:27
Member (2008)
English to Italian
Yes, usually May 21, 2009

Some clients send it along with the translation, others send it later, but for me an email is fine.

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Venkatesh Sundaram  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:57
German to English
Agree - only one client sends me a p.o. May 21, 2009

Nesrin wrote:

If a client sends me an email asking "Could you do this job by next Monday, how much do you charge" and I reply "£..." and they reply, "That's great, please go ahead", that's as good as any PO for me. Has worked for me for years (provided the client is trustworthy of course!)

[Edited at 2009-05-21 08:29 GMT]


As of now there is only one client of mine (an agency) who insists on sending a P. O. And even they often send the order AFTER I complete the job (since they include a word count, sometimes target word count, which naturally is available only after completion)
LIke Nerin, has worked for me too for few years now, touch wood.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 23:27
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Lesson from an uncle May 21, 2009

A late uncle of mine was a very special person. He lived for some 90 years, and in all this time he failed to develop one single enemy. Yet he was no hermit, probably had a million friends worldwide who would go out of their way immediately for him.

His company sold industrial woodworking machinery. At his funeral, the owner of the company that manufactured those machines told me, "Your uncle was one of a kind. We never signed any agreement, worked together for some 30, 40 years, and never had a dispute we couldn't quickly solve over the phone to mutual satisfaction. I have 22 other reps, all covered with very detailed signed agreements. Nevertheless, their lawyers and mine are busy all the time haggling over them."

My longest-standing client - 22 years already - and I have never signed an agreement, I wouldn't know what a PO from them would look like. A simple phone call or e-mail will suffice.

On the other hand, one of the most formal POs I ever got kept me standing by for 4 months awaiting an urgent 120,000 words proofreading job that never came. I only got the original text, not the translation to proofread. I had to insistently e-mail them every two weeks, to eventually learn that it was cancelled 'last week'. There were severe penalty clauses on the PO if I failed in anything, however they wouldn't take accountability for any slip on their side.

So, no matter how formal a PO may look, nor how many and how stringent clauses it contains, it's still a matter of mutual trust.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
N/A May 21, 2009

Glad to see I'm not alone. Nesrin, Parrot and Jose summed up my response. Trust is the key

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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:27
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Once burned May 21, 2009

With most agencies, the go ahead email is enough.

Once, however, I started working on a project, for which I had an email agreement, and the agency cancelled my involvement. I got nothing.

OTOH, I once got the wrong text from a client, who then paid for the work.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:27
Italian to English
+ ...
How about a "yes, all the time" option? May 21, 2009

Some agencies always send a PO. Some never do. I work mainly with the former. And no, I've never been burned through the lack of a PO.

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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:27
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Does it really make a difference? May 21, 2009

If somebody doesn't want to pay you after you finished their project, does it make any difference at all whether they sent you a PO or not?

AFAIK, an email alone in which the conditions for the job are agreed on is as legally binding as an official PO. In many legislations, even a verbal agreement is binding, but of course much harder to prove unless there are witnesses. A started project can be canceled with or without PO.

Those clients of mine that send POs usually do so for their own accounting/tax/audit purposes. POs are much easier to keep track of than more extensive email exchanges. If I would regularly outsource work, I'd also use POs instead of relying on emails only.


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:27
French to English
long ugly tale May 21, 2009

But it begs to be told - also I am waiting on some clients who are waiting on some clients who are waiting on some discovery from their opposition, so I got time. Most of my clients I have no problem with, I start the job as soon as they confirm, they get the PO to me shortly, it reads as we agreed in our emails, no problems. I had one high volume client who had a somewhat iffy reputation, so with them I was always very careful to have the PO in hand before I started a job, even though I had worked with them for a couple years. This past Christmas, a PM from this company contacted me about a proofreading job. We agreed on a price, then she sent the job - turned out she needed formatting as well. I told her I could do the formatting too, although it was a hassle so close to the holiday, and please sent me the PO. This was a Friday. I sent four reminders, no PO by the end of the day. Meanwhile, if I did not want to end up working on Christmas, I had to start the job. I did much of the job, contacted her again on Monday, she sends me a PO for the wrong price - less of course. I sent her a response immediately, no response, I put it out of my head. On the due date, I get another email from another PM asking for the job. The first PM is on vacation. I remind him that I need a valid PO. After complaining, hemming and hawing, he finally tells me that they do not have it in the budget to pay me the agreed upon price, so needless to say, I could not give him the job. Yes, I did report them on the Blueboard if anyone is curious.

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