We went to Elance.com to hire a technician to add mobile access to our web site. This would let anyone call up our site on their smartphone and sometimes their not-so-smart phone. Elance posted our request for open bids. What happened next was pretty interesting.

The first responses came from programmers in India and Pakistan. We got one bid to do the work for $1000, another for $1,100. In both cases, though they spoke English, we got the impression they weren’t at all clear about what we wanted done.

You can post any job for $50 or more, or use an hourly rate. There’s no charge from Elance. The job is listed internationally, but you can also choose to just have it listed just for Americans. The catch to that is how it comes up in searches. If you choose to have the job done only by Americans, the work request may not come up in a Google search.

We left it wide open to the world, and besides the bidders from India, we were contacted by KerCommunications, an American company with five-star ratings. They offered to do the job for $300. That was less than a third of what the Indians wanted to charge, so we selected them. They gave our job to “Nick,” who had 20 years experience as a software engineer. We didn’t have to explain anything; Nick understood immediately what we wanted and did the job in a couple of days.

When we needed an enhancement to one of our website widgets, we got bids from a Pakistani and an Indian for $100 to $200. But again the American firm did it for $75. What was really nice is that we didn’t have to explain anything. “Nick” understood what we wanted done and finished the job in few hours. We have had good tech support from India in the past, but Nick’s support was the best.

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