Disclaimer: This is going to be another long, horrible rant against French bureaucracy, displaying far less control than my last post. Read on with care.*
So after speaking to someone with URSSAF on the phone on Tuesday who guaranteed me that everything was fine with my file and told me that I should have my SIRET in about two weeks (and I know she looked up my file because she was able to give me information from it that I hadn’t told her), imagine my surprise when on Wednesday morning I found a letter in the mail from URSSAF. I secretly hoped that it would be my SIRET, or at the very least a document assuring me that they had received my file and they were working on it, but I had a sneaking suspicion that it would in fact be bad news. And boy was I right.
URSSAF had decided that the activity that I declared, what I was specifically told to write by the second conseillère after she herself had spoken to URSSAF, was not an activity according to l’INSEE. So I needed to contact them by email to provide more information on my activity, and preferably the INSEE code for my activity. Back to square one. Not to mention, instead of writing this letter on June 28, posting it on July 1, and having it arrive in my mailbox on July 3, complete with a hand-written note informing me that I could provide them the information by email, why didn’t they just A.) pick up the phone and call the number I had provided in my file or B.) send me an email at the email address in my file on June 28, which would have made the entire thing go faster.
But anyway, I’m past that conundrum. Since I didn’t see the letter until yesterday evening, I emailed them first thing this morning, telling them exactly what I have told all of the other people I have spoken to. I provided a detailed list of all the different activities I perform, in order of importance, starting with customer service (which is apparently just not an activity according to INSEE), and I asked them for their advice in determining exactly what activity I should declare seeing as I had no idea, and apparently no one I’ve spoken to, with any organization including URSSAF, can really tell me.
Surprisingly I got a response back this morning giving me three different options of activities that might apply to my case (none of which have anything to do with what I really do which is primarily bilingual customer service). One of the options was an activité commerciale, one was an activité artisanale and one was an activité liberale. Of course, being three entirely different groups of activities, they each have slightly different formalities that are needed (artisanale being the worst) and different tax rates for your cotisations sociales. Naturally, I was tempted to pick the cheapest (liberale), but as I really didn’t think it fit my case, I felt guilty doing that and feared that somehow that would just cause me more problems down the road. The commerciale choice scared me for potential legal reasons, so I resigned myself to artisanale and the additional paperwork necessary. Though, as a sidebar, can I just ask how bilingual customer service by phone and email, billing, bilingual mailings, financial documents and transactions, translation/interpretation, preparing reports, filing, collections and various other business and administrative tasks can possibly fit into activité artisanale which is normally for bakers, pastry chefs, plumbers, electricians, designers, etc!?!?! But, apparently, according to the dreaded website lautoentrepreneur.fr, it does. The logic seems to escape me though.
Pour faire fructifier votre talent (to grow your talent), what a lie...more like to kill your talent! Not to mention that the little auto-entrepreneur guy looks like a...
So, once I had settled on the dreaded activité artisanale I looked back at the email which instructed me to redo my déclaration en ligne and instead of sending it in online, to save it and email it to the person with URSSAF along with my ID, which would save me time in the processing of my file. Wait, what!?!?! I have to REDO my déclaration!?! Because you can’t just take all the information off of my original form and enter it into your system and then put in the correct activity? Not to mention, what have you done with the photocopies of my ID that I sent in with my file? I resigned myself to having to fill out the form again, and, hoping that maybe they had since updated their site, that maybe I would be able to get past the part where I was getting stuck with my titre de séjour information. Well, as it turns out I never even got that far because, now that I’m declaring an activité artisanale the website automatically redirected me to the website of the CFE, cfe-metiers.com (of course, because I originally sent my déclaration to the CFE who decided it wasn’t their problem and sent it on to URSSAF) to fill out the form on their website which automatically included the other formalities necessary for an activité artisanale (which is l’immatriculation au Répertoire des Métiers).**
I filled everything out and saved it rather than sending it in, then emailed it back to the person at URSSAF who quickly responded saying that he couldn’t process it, and that, in order for URSSAF to process my file I had to fill out the online form on lautoentrepreneur.fr, validate it at the end and send it to him with the appropriate numbers. Ummmm….ok, except that your website automatically redirected me to the other website to fill out the form. And what does it matter. It’s all the same damn information anyway! Not to mention that, even if your website didn’t redirect me, it won’t let me get past the box for my titre de séjour information! So I emailed him back asking if I should print out the same damn one-page paper form, fill it out by hand, scan it, and email it to him or if I should just send in the other form to the CFE on their website. No response yet.
My fear with sending it in to the CFE is that I will start all over again with a one month wait for my SIRET, and at some point my company in the US is going to start to get really angry that this is taking so long and I don’t want to lose my job because these stupid organizations can’t figure their shit out and don’t even know how their own damn websites work. If I send it by email to this guy with URSSAF, maybe, just maybe, since he said it would speed the whole process up, I won’t lose any more time and I will still be able to get my SIRET in about two more weeks (I know, wishful thinking Michele).
So, I’m back to square one and as far as I can figure they just threw my other déclaration away or something stupid which means that at this point I have no déclaration being processed anywhere and I’m no closer to goal than I was when I started a month and a half ago! Ugh!!! This country can be soooo incredibly frustrating sometimes! It makes me wonder why I even bother to do anything legally here…I mean I could just travailler au black and make more money that way AND not have to put up with this hassle!
*I apologize for the anger and frustration displayed in this post. I currently have no one to vent to as I have no friends in Bordeaux, Lionel just does the Gallic shrug and tells me to deal with it and all of my friends in the US are busy (it is the 4th of July after all) or don’t understand. I had to take my frustration out somewhere, and since this is MY blog, I figured I have every right to do it here, so I am sorry if any of you, my dear readers, are offended.
**It actually gets much more confusing and complicated than this because some sites say that an activité artisanale has to pay one amount in cotisations sociales and other sites give a different amount for this group so at this point I have no idea how much I will have to pay. Also, some sites say I have to do l'immatriculation au répertoire des métiers for my particular activité artisanale while others say that I don't. Not to mention that some sites say that for ANY activité artisanale they will have to verify your qualifications (i.e. diplomas in the relevant field or at least three years experience working in the relevant field, at which point I guess I'm screwed because I don't have a stupid BTS assistante administrative or any other diploma for my "field" and I also don't have three years experience in this "field"). So I have to admit that at this point I am lost, confused, angry, frustrated and fucking pissed and all I want to do is throw my hands up in the air, drink a bottle or two of wine and then go punch a few idiots in the face.