In Wake of Training Scam, Oracle Says Buyers Should Beware

Following recent reports of an Oracle training provider who has allegedly scammed his customers, Oracle training experts had unanimous advice for consumers: Be a smart shopper.

Following recent news about an Oracle training provider who allegedly scammed his customers, Oracle training experts had unanimous advice for consumers: Be a smart shopper.

"[Oracles] advice would be to be a smart shopper and to ask for confirmation of credentials and/or to begin by reviewing the list of Oracle authorized partners who are indeed so credentialed," said Beth Broderson, senior director of Oracle Services Marketing, in New York.

Ed Haskins, the training provider in question, admitted to that, over the course of running now-defunct training sites including OraKnowledge, he had sometimes failed to deliver purchased material or to give promised refunds. In addition, he said he sent out spam e-mail that featured a fictional security expert and a stock photo.

/zimages/5/28571.gifRead more about Haskins and his Oracle training ventures.

How do you vet an Oracle training provider? The safest way, of course, is to go directly through the company itself.

However, Oracle wont disclose customer details, though, such as whether an individual who claims to be certified is indeed certified. Broderson suggests that consumers put the onus of proof on the training provider when it comes to claims of Oracle certification.

Nor does Oracle Corp, of Redwood Shores, Calif., certify trainers, per se, according to Ed Dansker, senior director of alliances for Oracle University, in New York. Rather, those professionals who achieve Oracle certification and who want to teach at Oracle University are vetted both for technical skills and presentation skills before being unleashed into the classroom.

And thats only following a "fairly rigorous program" that includes attending classes the future instructors will teach, co-teaching classes theyll be teaching, and ultimately being observed and approved by a senior instructor, Dansker said. A similar procedure transpires for an indirect channel of organizations that teach Oracle skills in conjunction with Oracle.

In other words, when purchasing training from Oracle itself, consumers are safe in assuming they wont get a raw deal.

Unfortunately, for many DBMs (database managers), thats not a viable option, considering steep training costs. Costs per day for Oracle instructor-led training are about $500. Oracle-provided training for Oracle9i, for example, totals about $12,000.

Thats an unlikely expenditure for an individual whos been laid off or whose employer wont open its pocket that widely, said Steve Bobrowski, the founder of 4SKWare Technologies Inc., which runs the online Oracle training company DBDomain.

Bobrowski said he had tracked Haskins training ventures for years, after declining to sell Haskins training material for rebranding. According to Bobrowski, Haskins wanted a laughably low price for the content—$3 per CD-ROM, instead of the $500 Bobrowski was then charging.

Customers who shell out a few thousand dollars for CD-ROM training materials and then get ripped off may not seem to constitute an earth-shattering story in the technology industry at large, but its an extremely large story to the individual whos struggling to advance his or her career, Bobrowski said. "To the individual who scraped money together to buy training and move their career ahead, its an incredibly big story," he said.

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