Poll: Do you ask for a purchase order (PO) before beginning to work on a project?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:26
SITE STAFF
Apr 7, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ask for a purchase order (PO) before beginning to work on a project?".

This poll was originally submitted by Rebecca Hendry. View the poll results »



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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:26
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No Apr 7, 2010

In many cases I'll start work on basis of an emial confirmation.

Many of my clients are small or one woman enterprises and they don't issue me with POs - then again I've never asked ... perhaps they would if I asked. However as I've worked with many of them for years this way, there seems little point.

[Edited at 2010-04-07 08:57 GMT]


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:26
Spanish to English
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New clients Apr 7, 2010

I usually do with new clients, but once the good faith and relationship are there, I don't bother. I do, however, always ask for confirmation by email. (It never hurts to have something in writing.)

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:26
Member (2008)
English to Italian
same here Apr 7, 2010

John Cutler wrote:

I usually do with new clients, but once the good faith and relationship are there, I don't bother. I do, however, always ask for confirmation by email. (It never hurts to have something in writing.)


same here!


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 19:26
English to Russian
+ ...
Always asking Apr 7, 2010

I always *ask* for a PO, but it does not mean I always *require* one. Clients' responses to this request provide additional information about them and the associated level of risk.

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Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
New clients Apr 7, 2010

As John says, it's a good and inoffensive way of sounding out new clients. I seem to find out a lot about them this way - and it's not necessarily a matter of provision of PO = trustworthy client.

Apart from anything else, it helps me with my filing - if I have a PO number, then the porject goes under Client name - PO number etc. And if not, some clients tell me what they would like the files to be called and I can follow their system.

But yes, get something in writing! Always. I think these days I would probably ask my husband to put it in writing if he was asking for a translation!!!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
No. Apr 7, 2010

Unless the client's modus operandi demands it.
Since I am averse to admin tasks, I always try to keep thing as simple as possible. It has even got to the stage where I can't be bothered sending CVs to prospective clients and no longer do "sample translations" either.
Basically, a client offers me a project, I decide if I can take it on, then I do the job, bill the client and hope that they eventually pay.
Satisfied customers will usually come back.


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 19:26
English to French
+ ...
No Apr 7, 2010

It often works the other way around: agencies in Europe, especially if they are certified (ISO whatever), request my confirmation of their order form.
I am happy with an e-mail confirming the agreed date of delivery from "regulars" and tend to forget what it was like to deal with "new" customers.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:26
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sort of Apr 7, 2010

I ask for confirmation of some kind before I start working on a project/going on an assignment. Ideally, this would be a PO, but that doesn't happen with all of my clients. Some clients confirm via e-mail, others use another method.

I do agree that it doesn't hurt to have something written as back-up in case there is a problem of some kind.


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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:26
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Depends on the client Apr 7, 2010

I regard the need for a PO and billing to be completely client specific.

For new clients, I ask for a PO from agencies.
However, I specialize in the old German form of handwriting, so I get requests from direct clients who want to know what their relatives were writing about. They often don't know what a PO is or how to file one. Email confirmation is enough for me. And they tend to pay the same day they get the translation, so it's not a problem.

Yes, I have been burned by individual clients. And I've also gotten bonuses from others. So it evens out.


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Simon Cole  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:26
Member (2008)
French to English
Order number Apr 7, 2010

Most agencies seem to use a reference number to log each project, which is logical. I ask for this and use it in all correspondence (acknowledgement, delivery, invoice) as well as in my own work log (I don't assign my own reference number, I use the customer's). All my work comes by e-mail (except once by post from a Judge's chambers), so I always have "something in writing". What else would you need?
My lawyer advised me that an "official order" was essential in the event of payment dispute or non-payment, but I haven't found it makes any difference here in France. Those who are ggoing to pay, pay; those who aren't going to pay, don't, and really there's very little you can do about it!


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:26
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Put everything in writing, but there are no rules Apr 7, 2010

Simon Cole wrote:
All my work comes by e-mail (except once by post from a Judge's chambers), so I always have "something in writing".
My lawyer advised me that an "official order" was essential in the event of payment dispute or non-payment, but I haven't found it makes any difference here in France.


I took a client to court for non-payment once, and the French courts told me that nothing is absolutely essential - they look at each case so "something in writing" is all you need.

In my case (giving a training course for a language school) I had stupidly signed a contract that said they wouldn't pay me until the end of the course. When the course didn't go full term (not due to any fault on my part, I can assure you) they said they didn't have to pay for the time I'd spent.

Amazingly (!) the court decided that the contract clause was abusive and awarded me my full rate plus interest.

So, putting the words in a contract didn't protect the client. And my emails explaining that I had done my job and deserved to be paid were taken into full account.

There is some justice, after all.


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Marlene Blanshay  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 13:26
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
sometimes Apr 8, 2010

Some of the agencies I work for issue them anyways...usually the larger agencies with more than one international office. But I also do a lot of work for small agencies...most of them i've been working for a long time and trust them, so email is enough.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:26
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I try... Apr 8, 2010

I feel more comfortable with a PO, so I usually ask for one. If they reply that I can consider their e-mail as a PO, then I don't insist. On my invoice, I cite the date of their e-mail as their "PO".

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