The Deceptively Simple Purchase Order
As one printing company executive explained, European papers of the same product description tend to be thinner than their American counterparts. For this reason, he strongly recommends that anyone purchasing paper internationally or from a supplier with whom he has not worked before always require a product sample. He also suggests referencing the sample in the product description in the final, signed P.O.
WHO'S LIABLE WHILE THE PAPER IS EN ROUTE?
Although a P.O. can be enforced against the buyer without a shipping designation, the supplier will generally require it. While the shipping designation would appear to be complete with only the name, address and other contact information of the recipient (generally the printer), an essential ingredient is naming who will be liable for the product while it's in transit. For this reason, it's useful to know the following shipping terms:
• F.O.B. means 'free on board' and refers to the point at which the supplier's liability for the shipped paper ends.
• F.O.B. Place of Shipment means the supplier must, at its own risk and expense, transport the paper to the specified carrier who will then be responsible for safely shipping the paper to the printer.
• F.O.B. Place of Destination means the supplier must, at its own risk and expense, transport the paper to the specified location, e.g., the supplier's dock, the printer's dock.
• F.O.B. Vessel means the supplier must at its own risk and expense load the paper onto the specified vessel. When the buyer uses this shipping term, it must name the specific vessel involved.
• F.A.S. means 'free along side' and requires the supplier only to deliver the paper to the vessel (and not load it) in exchange for a bill of lading, which it then gives to the buyer.
The designation of shipping terms is the buyer's responsibility. Even if the supplier has standard shipping procedures and carriers, the buyer must ultimately approve the shipping method.