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The $5,000 Lesson

The company that trained Ed Garrett to be an MCSE stated that if it didn’t land him a job, it would pay him $5,000. Garrett’s got his certification, but no IT job and no $5,000.

Ed Garrett figured he was safe. After all, he had a signed contract with the company that trained him to be an MCSE that stated if it didn’t land him a job, it would pay him $5,000. Garrett’s got his certification, but no IT job and no $5,000.

It all began Feb. 7, 2000 when Garrett signed a contract with ExecuTrain of Oklahoma City (ETOKC). The contract, which MCP Magazine has seen, states that ETOK guarantees that should the company not provide a job within 90 days of Garrett’s completion of his MCSE, it would pay him $5,000. The total cost of Garrett’s training, for which he took out a personal loan, was $12,799.

On May 25, 2001, Garrett passed his final test and received his MCSE on Windows NT 4.0. At about the same time, the owner of ETOKC, Julie Chapman, informed Garrett that she’d sold the company; according to his statement, she told him the new owners would have no problem finding him a job.

After several months, Garrett had heard nothing from the new owners of ExecuTrain. He called them and was told that they wouldn’t honor the contract of the previous company, leaving Garrett in debt for his training, with no job and without the promised $5,000.

Garrett has since been in contact with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Better Business Bureau of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools and several attorneys. It’s all amounted to nothing thus far.

“From what the attorneys tell me, it’s fairly tangled,” Garrett said. He’s been told that he can sue, but the lawyers would have to determine who to sue, and the whole process would add more expense to what he’s already paid. “I’m not anxious to throw good money after bad,” is how Garrett puts it.

Following Garrett’s complaint to the BBB, Richard Oertle, one of the new owners of the ETOKC franchise, stated in a written response to the BBB that he purchased the company on June 1, 2001. “We purchased some of the assets of Technology Solutions [the name of Chapman’s company that owned ETOKC], but not their debt or their obligations.”

The letter ends by stating, “the current owners did not promise him [Garrett] anything, we assumed no obligation or liability and will not be paying him $5,000.”

Chapman, the former owner of ETOKC, doesn’t dispute Garrett’s version of events. When MCP Magazine asked her about the contract and whether it promised the $5,000, Chapman replied “As far as I know, that’s correct. The facts are that the company is no longer in business and there’s nothing I can do about that at this time.

“The company would love to do everything in its power to help everyone, but we can’t,” Chapman continued. “At the time when we were in business, we were actively working with him and helping him.”

Asked if Garrett has a right to feel cheated out of $5,000, Chapman said, “No, I don’t feel like that.”

Garrett feels differently. “I trusted them and I got burned, it looks like.” He’s still paying off the loan he took out to get trained and can’t just close down and say he won’t pay people to whom he owes money. “I thought that’s what a contract meant. I took my contract seriously,” he said.

Garrett’s only IT experience since getting certified was a two-month gig doing backup and restore. He’s talking to his current employer about a possible job as a junior administrator on a Novell network, not what he had in mind, but at least he’d be working in the field.

Given his experience, Garrett has some advice for others who may be looking into certification training schools. “First of all, don’t spend so much money. Talk to students, and make [the prospective school] provide you with a list of former students you can talk to. Check with the Better Business Bureau.”

And one last tidbit, which would have saved Garrett $5,000 if he knew then what he knows now. “Maybe even talk to an attorney first, about what happens if the company changes ownership.”

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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