If you supply goods and services based on receipt of a written Purchase Order, make sure you understand and are comfortable with agreeing to the terms of the Purchase Order.
The Purchase Order can set out the terms of your supply if you let it – and the chances are the terms will be to the advantage of your customer, not you.
This is a very basic example, but let’s assume a customer of yours provides you with a written Purchase Order as follows:
“Supply one double bed with payment as per our terms and conditions”
If your customer’s “terms and conditions” allow for payment within six months of delivery and you, without challenging the content of the Purchase Order, supply the double bed, you may not be entitled to be paid for up to six months after the date of delivery.
There are a few relatively simple precautions you can take that will assist:
make sure the Purchase Order conditions do not refer to the Purchase Order being subject to the customer’s own terms and conditions – a simple reference to them (and where they might be found) may be enough to bind you to them – even if you have already agreed to trade using your own terms and conditions; and
if the Purchase Order adds conditions to the supply, do not supply unless you agree to the added conditions or have reached written agreement as to alternative conditions of supply (which may include having the Purchase Order amended and re-issued).