I suppose dem should be fightin' words and I should defend the honor of my countrymen, but the guy is too often right.
I decided long ago that it is seldom worth the bother to do business with those in my country of origin. But that was so long ago that the reasons had faded in my mind, and when I was approached recently by a polite PR rep for a small translation (a page and a half press release) for a trade show in Germany, I thought why not?
My quotation was accepted without much delay, and then came the familiar request for me to fill out (on behalf of the German limited company that would be invoicing) a W-9 and several pages of a New Vendor Authorization form that asked if my company is a Small Business Concern and asked me to to mark the relevant categories:
- Small Business Certification (SBC) self certified
- Small Disadvantaged (including minority-owned) Business (SDB)
- Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
- Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
- HUBZone Small Business concern (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) certified by the US Small Business Administration
Life's too short. I gave her the name of a nice agency local to her. I hope they can help her out.
It puzzles me that someone involved with international clients can be utterly unaware that US forms like the W-9 have no relevance to contractors abroad, but I've found that this and other misconceptions are the rule rather than the exception among my business contacts on the other side of the Pond. And the idea that I would need to juggle paperwork like that for a small, one-off job is more puzzling still. Had I known in advance that this would be expected, I could have added two hours of administrative fees to the quote for the translation of less than 500 words.
Perhaps I've squandered a marvelous opportunity here, and I certainly hope the person wasn't insulted by my rather abrupt about-face on the quote. But I find that good business is usually very simple.