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He Said, She Said

Got poor Windows 2000 training? One group considers filing suit.

What do you do when you feel you’ve had a poor Windows 2000 training experience? In the case of a group of students that attended a two-week boot camp in Billings, Montana, you consider filing suit.

According to Christopher Urban, an MCSE who does network consulting for TEKsystems, from the moment he entered Technology Outfitters’ classroom on a Monday morning in early December, he wondered about the training he was about to receive.

In a letter sent to MCP Magazine describing his experience, Urban said that during the first week of instruction, the six students in the class formed a study group on night two because they weren’t getting enough detail from their instructor. “There were some bumps along the way ... such as [the trainer] not fully understanding RIS—utilizing his company’s script but not really being able to explain why it was set up the way it was.”

In the course of talking with the other students that night, Urban learned that the company had run a “Christmas Special” for $6,500, but hadn’t informed him or his co-worker, who each had paid $1,000 more.

The next day, the group tackled the Win2K Server exam. While in the testing center, the group learned that—in another room—the instructor was taking the test for a course he was supposed to teach the next day—one step ahead of the class.

When they complained to Technology Outfitters’ management, the company flew in an alternate instructor, who ran the class for the next several days. According to Urban, the substitute was “excellent.”

The following Tuesday, a third instructor was in place, who, according to Urban, “read word for word from the materials the entire time.”

According to another student, Stephen Hogate, several people left the class to study on their own. Hogate stayed another hour, then also gave up and returned to his room to study privately.

Urban and the other students started demanding refunds from the company. Urban says he’s been offered $1,250 but considers that inadequate because it’s just $250 more than the amount he believes he overpaid in the first place.

The company denied Urban’s charges. Thomas Propp, a manager, replied, “Technology Outfitters Inc., like most businesses, strives to meet the needs of its customers and clientele; sometimes despite all efforts, not all consumers are 100 percent satisfied 100 percent of the time... We have made countless efforts to resolve Mr. Urban’s dissatisfaction, but he has chosen to ignore such attempts.”

Regarding the instructors used by the company, Propp said the first trainer was a college-level teacher with some field experience. “The manner in which he taught was recognized as a problem for some of the students—not all. When this was brought to our attention, a new instructor completed the course work. Even then, some of the students found the new instructor to be less than adequate for their needs, while others offered a high level of praise. Following this, we brought in yet a third instructor to meet the needs of the students. Some—not all—students complained about the instructor’s teaching style. Once again, others preferred his style. Interestingly enough, all of the students passed the course exam that was taught by this instructor, except one.”

Regarding the difference in pricing for the course, Propp said, “The difference in cost for some of the students was due to a ‘holiday’ promotion that the company ran. Students committed to the class prior to that time were not eligible for the promotion.”

Student Hogate said, “The idea of coming to Billings—to get away from distractions and focus on studying—never materialized, mainly due to all the distractions created by [the company’s] poor class planning. I honestly would not recommend this boot camp to any of my coworkers...nor any...friends [who] work at other high-tech companies in the valley.”

Urban said the group has been in touch with an attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the company. In the meantime, he wants to prevent other MCPs from falling “victim to [Technology Outfitters’] false claims.”

Is there a lesson here for others seeking training on Win2K? Urban said he thought he knew what he was getting into.

“That was one of the first things I asked [the company]—if they taught the product or how to pass a test. They said they taught the product, but in reality it was all about passing those tests.”

Urban also criticizes Microsoft for eliminating the requirement that trainers possess certification on each course they teach.

“They’ve lowered the bar for their training providers, so what do they expect?” (It should be pointed out that nothing on Technology Outfitters’ Web site or in its advertising claims status as a Microsoft Certified Technical Education Center.)

His conclusion: “If you learn the product in depth, passing the test will be a no-brainer. I’m glad that in the class of six of us we were able to band together, share our knowledge from our practical business experiences, and pass some of our Win2K track while in Billings.”

—Dian Schaffhauser

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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