A lot of business transactions are opened with an enquiry. A general item of information, a price-list, a catalogue may be asked for. Detailed enquiries may express requests for the prices of specified goods, terms of delivery, etc. They are mostly short and to the point. The size of the future order may be pointed out because large-scale sales tend to reduce prices. In such cases the seller usually grants the buyer a discount or quantity discount on the list-prices. If made by telex, telephone or in a personal interview, enquiries should be confirmed by a letter.
It's impolite to leave the letter unanswered even if at the moment you are not ready to give a definite reply. A reply to an enquiry (if the seller cannot send an offer immediately) states reasons why the seller cannot send an offer at once and what is being done at the moment. It also points out alterations, if any, as to the quantity of the goods, their model, delivery dates.
If the seller can meet the Buyer's requirements, he sends an offer. The price, the terms and conditions under which a company is willing to sell goods is called an offer. It usually includes the description, the quantity, quality, and the prices of the goods, as well as the delivery or shipment period, and the delivery and payment terms (who pays the cost of delivery, of shipment and insurance and how payment will be made), marking and packing.
An offer may be firm (for a specified period) or may be free (in this case it is usually called a quotation).
amendments to the contract
It is common for Buyer's representatives to visit Seller's premises for technical or commercial discussions, either before or after a Contract has been made. Pretty often the engineering department of the Seller finds it necessary to improve the model, which the Buyer ordered under the Contract, by making a few modifications (usually shown in the attached drawings). The modifications can be very slight or considerable, but, as a rule, they are very effective and improve performance.
Any alterations to the Contract become valid if they are made in writing and signed by authorized representatives of both parties as per appropriate Clause of the Contract.
Therefore in order to finalize the matter the Seller invites the Buyer to visit his premises. And if the Customer approves of the modifications, the Seller makes an appropriate amendment to the Contract.
If the Buyer has to go abroad, the Seller usually assures him that there will be no difficulties in issuing a visa through providing an official invitation in support of the Customer's application for a visa.
The Seller reequips his workshops from time to time. As a matter of fact they may be the latest word in technology. The level of automation is usually increased and the output becomes considerably higher. As a rule the Buyer's representatives find the modifications reasonable and the Buyer doesn't object to them. After the visit the Seller sends the Buyer a draft amendment for signature.
Force majeure is a force against which you cannot act.
Every contract has a force majeure clause. It usually includes natural disasters such as an earthquake, flood, fire, etc. It can also list such contingencies as war, embargo, and sanctions. Along with this there are some other circumstances beyond the Seller's control. The Seller may find himself in a situation when he can't fulfill his obligations under the Contract. It may happen if there is a general strike in the country, a strike of coal-miners, transport workers, etc. Production may be suspended, if there is a shortage of the energy supply. When negotiating aContract a list of contingencies must be agreed on and put into the Contract.
When a manager makes up a contract he must not think only of his one-sided interest. He must think in terms of common interest with his counterpart. Only then will he prove loyal to his partner.
In case of a contingency the Seller must notify the Buyers of a force majeure. The Clause of the Contract to this effect may run:
"Should the Seller fail to notify the Buyers of a contingency the Seller is denied a right to refer to these circumstances". The Seller is to notify the Buyer of a contingency right away. If it's done in due time, the Buyer may take immediate action to protect his interest. He may sign a contract with another supplier on similar terms or if it's impossible, he will secure the best possible terms he can have at the moment. If prices are rising, he will be quick to act and will do everything possible to negotiate the best price obtainable at the moment.