back to article Oracle sues its own star sales rep after she wins back $200k in pay fight

Oracle, which requires salespeople to agree to binding arbitration to avoid costly disputes in court, is unhappy that an arbitrator ruled against it. So it is suing one of its own employees, applications account manager Felicia Wilson, in a New York court to undo the arbitrator's $257,335.79 award. That's the amount Oracle …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oracle Corporation

    On the basis of this, considering it is totally insignificant to them, I have to conclude Oracle is a miserable, ungrateful, petty organisation. Glad I don't work for them.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Oracle Corporation

      Exactly. Every company I can think of would be tickled and gladly pay for someone exceeding quota by more than 250%. Or does Larry need a new sailboat?

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Oracle Corporation

        I see this a lot in the US, companies set goals and when the sales people exceed them they cut the bonuses and/or divide the territory for get the bonuses back under control. In the US bonuses like this are designed to encourage the sales staff - the company gets very upset when they actually have to pay out and "adjusts" the "problem"

        The corporate view is that bonuses paid to the sales people is money that should be going to the managements pockets.

        1. thomn8r

          Re: Oracle Corporation

          I see this a lot in the US, companies set goals and when the sales people exceed

          Moving the goalposts is a just another corporate pastime; it doesn't just happen with salespeople. If any goal is exceeded, it must have been too easy; conversely, if you don't reach said arbitrary goal, you're useless dead weight which must be trimmed.

      2. Johan Bastiaansen

        Re: Oracle Corporation

        "Exactly. Every company I can think of would be tickled and gladly pay for someone exceeding quota by more than 250%. Or does Larry need a new sailboat?"

        You would think that wouldn't you. But no.

      3. Johan Bastiaansen

        Re: Oracle Corporation

        "Exactly. Every company I can think of would be tickled and gladly pay for someone exceeding quota by more than 250%. Or does Larry need a new sailboat?"

        You would think that, wouldn't you. But no.

    2. sorry, what?

      Re: Oracle Corporation

      From my perspective both Oracle and Wilson are greedy. I have seen so many times the sales person get all the reward (clearly not at Oracle), despite being strongly supported by a technical team who are simply salaried and get no recognition for their contribution to closing the deal.

      Yes, I get that sales people are generally paid by commission; the issue is that the sale typically isn't all because of them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oracle Corporation

        From my perspective both Oracle and Wilson are greedy. I have seen so many times the sales person get all the reward (clearly not at Oracle), despite being strongly supported by a technical team who are simply salaried and get no recognition for their contribution to closing the deal.

        Oh yes - I gave a company a flaming government monopoly and was just given a thank you. Not even a drink from the sales people who thanks to some design changes made twice the amount of money per connection they originally would have made.

        That said, she's right. She has a contract, and did a good job selling so Oracle should not try to claim back what is in effect a good deal for them. If Oracle wins this one I'd suggest that their sales people really need to go and look for other work because you can't trust them.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Oracle Corporation

          "If Oracle wins this one I'd suggest that their sales people really need to go and look for other work because you can't trust them."

          Yep. Once you've made quota and are effectively going to get next to nothing for any further sales, then it's in the best interests of the salesperson to either sit on their arse and do nothing for the rest of the year or to deliberately delay any in-progress negations until the next financial year.

          What a shite way to run an incentive programme!

      2. Valerion

        Re: Oracle Corporation

        Yes, I get that sales people are generally paid by commission; the issue is that the sale typically isn't all because of them.

        100% this. At a previous job we had a salesman for our product who went to one of our existing customers (note - not HIS existing customer, they were a customer before he joined) for a meeting. They said "hey, it'd be cool if you had a thing that could do xyz". And he said "No problem!" and drew up a large invoice which they agreed to.

        Of course, we had no such thing. So it fell to me - several months of single-handed massive effort - to develop the entire solution (hardware and software), with the sole contribution of the salesman to be to send me weekly emails asking why it was taking so damn long. He didn't even come to any of the meetings I ended up having with the customer.

        At the end of it, he got a 5-figure commission, and I got a nomination for employee of the month. I didn't win.

      3. ronbarak

        Re: Oracle Corporation

        Aren't military victories usually attributed by the commander? It's the commander's task to move all the 'chess pieces' to achieve the optimal results.

        Do you see the analogy to the sales person in charge?

        1. PaulHill88

          Re: Oracle Corporation

          In most large organisations, if the salesperson learns of a large opportunity that is winnable, the organisation will form a team. This is not headed up by the salesperson (who will continue to own the relationship) but by an Enterprise Architect and possibly a senior 'Client Partner' (or some such title). The role of the sales person is /certainly/ NOT analagous to a military commander!

    3. kiwimuso
      Unhappy

      Re: Oracle Corporation

      What a cunch of bunts!! That is all!!

  2. EvilGardenGnome
    Joke

    Looks like their counterpart at Delphi isn't the only one inhaling some strange vapours...

  3. Vector

    "Oracle, which requires salespeople to agree to binding arbitration to avoid costly disputes in court, is unhappy that an arbitrator ruled against it. So it is suing one of its own employees..."

    So...it's binding unless the corporation that forced the arbitration doesn't like the result.

    nice...

    <sigh>

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Yes, it's binding unless the company loses, then they go shopping for an arbitrator that will give them the result they want.

      I wonder if the Ms. Wilson would like to try to force this into open court rather than arbitration of the companies choosing.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I wonder if the Ms. Wilson would like to try to force this into open court rather than arbitration of the companies choosing."

        I think the fact Oracle are challenging the binding arbitration result means they have broken that clause of the employment contract so she is free to challenge their challenge any way she sees fit.

    2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: binding

      No, it's like a license agreement. You agree you owe them everything and they agree they owe f*&k all. The abitrator didn't understand this basic tenant of Oracle law.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: binding

        But I wonder if they understand the tenet?

      2. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: binding

        No, it's like a license agreement. You agree you owe them everything and they agree they owe f*&k all. The abitrator didn't understand this basic tenant of Oracle law.

        Upvoted, but I have to be that guy and point out that the word you're looking for is tenet, as in "basic tenet of Oracle law". Unless we're talking about a lodger ("lodger-ing an appeal"? ahaha), in which case "tenant" might be appropriate after all.

      3. Wade Burchette

        Re: binding

        Oracle's mandatory binding arbitration decisions goes like this: "Let us flip a coin. Tails I win, heads you lose."

  4. Nifty

    Tsk, wonder if I should leave this grubby software industry and run a nice clean brothel instead.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Nifty

      A brothel would be step up from most IT companies.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: @Nifty

        That's The Joke™

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Coat

      Nifty Tsk, wonder if I should leave this grubby software industry and run a nice clean brothel instead.

      To paraphrase the old joke:

      Teacher asks class of kindergartners to tell everyone what their mummy/daddy do at work.

      Timmy stands up: "My daddy's a fireman!"

      Alice stands up: "My mommy's a carpenter!"

      Bobby stands up: "My daddy plays piano in a brothel!"

      Teacher is outraged, and that very night storms round to Bobby's parents' house to confront them. Bobby's dad answers the front door, and tries to explain: "Well, really, I'm a salesman for Oracle. But honestly, how do you explain something like that to an innocent child??"

    3. Sir Barry

      Nifty, how do I apply for a job?

      I'm used to being screwed.

    4. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
      Facepalm

      The software industry is worse than the illegal drug industry!

      With drug dealers, they give you first hit for free. You get hooked and you either pay up for drugs or the dealer cuts you off and leaves you to die in your own vomit.

      With software dealers, they give the first hit for free. You get hooked and you keep paying. If you stop paying, the dealers come after you, demand you keep paying, take you to court to force you to pay up one more time to close the last deal and finally leave you broke, with no access to your apps or data and finally watch you get dumped out on the street waiting to die of exposure!

    5. LDS Silver badge

      "run a nice clean brothel instead."

      Naaah, you would have many top executives like Hurd as customers of yours... which would ask for a discount on your "sales".

  5. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Looks like this Hurd fellow is mad that he can no longer afford the requisite number of solid gold spittoons for his airship and is taking it out on the salesperson.

    Good show. Standards must be Kept Up.

    1. circusmole
      Meh

      Re: Bah!

      When I started reading this article I thought that low-life Hurd would be involved somewhere. I was not disappointed!

      --From someone who suffered at his hands in the past.

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Oracle doesn't want to pursue the case in open court. Rather it's asking to have the case re-arbitrated, with a different arbitrator.

    So, what? They'll keep trying until they get an arbitrator who rules in their favour?

    The attitude is nothing new,I had a similar but much smaller dispute with a copier company I worked for, struck luckyand found two clients with chains of offices, did the deal at a great price and the company took the whole thing off me, put on to National Accounts and refused to pay me anything.

    It's surprising how much wear and tear a one year old company car can experience! and it wasn't mine it was the National sales director's.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Commission?

    Well, it confirms my belief that Oracle is overpriced cr*p.

    $10M in revenue from one customer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Commission?

      And don't even *think* about running your Oracle instances on ESXi 6.x. Rather than charging by user, Oracle wants to charge you for ALL processors in your entire infrastructure, regardless of how many happen to be running Oracle at any given time. They claim it's bacause of instance portability, any given processor *could* be running an Oracle instance at any given time, so they have to charge for ALL of them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Commission?

      That's nothing for Oracle. Plenty customers spend in excess $100m per year on Larrys code. It's a corollary of owning 50% of the planets database installations. Then trying to shovel all sorts of crap on top ( read: the rest of the oracle portfolio.

      They are a thoroughly reprehensible bunch all in it for themselves. Capitalism? Yes, but without a shred of benign empathy. Hurd is a nasty character, well suited to Larry and that woman Safra.

      Sales folk are greedy - they may need to be in a culture like oracles, where they are ritually pressurised, scrutinized, ridiculed in front of their peers, then spat out. It takes a certain sort of resilience in someone to want to be there.

      I was. So you can sense my bias....ghastly organization.

  8. Boohoo4u

    Expected

    This is what I've come to expect from Oracle...

    They love to throw in the gotchas in small print, and when wrong they throw lawyers at the problem.

    Reminds me of the ongoing JAVA fiasco...

    There has to somewhere else this obviously talented sales person can go to.

    Red Hat, maybe?

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Expected

      Yep, abandon java it is for me. First Oracle DDBB and PL/SQL, now Java.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    Top executives...

    ... "hey, this woman is more capable than us! Crush her before she aims at our chairs!"

  10. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    shocked to hear that a bought and paid for arbitrator has so ungrateful as to go against their master's wishes.

  11. C. P. Cosgrove
    WTF?

    The downside for Ms. Wilson is that if she wins this case, and consequently gets her back pay, she had better look for another job pronto,

    Then again, I wouldn't work for a company that tried to screw me over commission due.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh, you'd be surprised. Bitter battles over commission are considered part and parcel of the job of account exec. Likewise for territory. As long as she keeps bringing in revenue this is but a sideshow. Frankly she'd struggle to make that much commission anywhere else; very few people still seal deals at Oracle's scale, breadth and depth; most of them don't pay Oracle commissions. Certain IBM products are still in the same league, but I wouldn't expect that to last very much longer.

    2. The IT Ghost

      With all that in the bank, she could afford to go somewhere with lower commissions, that's a very nice nest egg to fall back on, plus this couldn't have been an isolated year, article says she had to fight for commissions before...she probably has enough banked that, once this is added in, she could clear enough per year to make ends meet even without working...anything she got doing sales elsewhere would just be padding.

    3. ronbarak

      With her track record, finding a new job shouldn't prove too difficult - at least, at companies that play fair.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Petty criminals

    In my mind, that is what they are, petty criminals.. fraudsters.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Petty criminals

      "In my mind, that is what they are, petty criminals"

      $200k is petty?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Petty criminals

        Its probably a lot of money to her and most other people, but to Orable it's just pocket change and that just kind of adds to her defense so yeah, they sure are petty, sir.

        It's like if I was fighting to take my dollar bill back from a homeless guy when you knew I has $100 bill in my wallet. You would call me petty but that dollar may sure mean a lot more to him than you or I.

        Even if they were allowed to keep every penny of those exact, actual dollars that they are fighting about right now, they may end up paying out more than that as time goes by. One way or another things will balance out and karma finds a way, even if it's simply slightly lower revenues because of the lower morale and less enthusiasm of a team of people who would otherwise have been empowered and motivated by seeing this lady earn a huge pile of dollars.

        Management - look after your employees, they are way more important than you.

  13. TDog

    Institutionalised Excellence

    And this is going to motivate their sales staff - How? Were I a share holder I would be a tad f*cking furious at this totally incompetent management. Forget the emails - they are simply local conversations between idiots. The key question is, "why are these idiots in a position where they fail to reward excellent work"?

    Still - it takes a long time for a firm to drift into institutionalised incompetence. Just ask Amiga, Atari, IBM (and where are they when you want to buy a PC Junior), Sun (no connection with Oracle there) and of course SCO.

    Miss you Pamela.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Institutionalised Excellence

      Well Lavabit are back online so perhaps Pamela can just drop her private life and get back to being a slave to the truth for us?

  14. benderama

    The more a sales agent makes for Oracle, the less they get in commission? Is that right?

    Sign me the hell up, I'm so motivated I've already generated $0 in sales so I should get a nice fat check.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had an issue with an employer, when the hardware we were selling, became a bit too popular and they couldn't ramp up production fast enough. The end result was that the customers were happy to wait, but the company couldn't supply for nearly two months, resulting (eventually) in a month when all the products came into stock (from production) and went straight out again.

    The effect of this was two months of very low commission, followed by one month of very, very high commission...and if you averaged it out, over the three months, the monthly commission figure was about the same as most previous months.

    However, one of the top bosses took umbrage that a lowly sales rep was (for one month) paid more than him...so the following month the commission level (on this product) was permanently reduced.

    Myself and the other reps, were not best pleased :-(

  16. Frank N. Stein

    Wait a minute.

    This sales person out performed her sales quota by a WIDE margin and instead of compensating her properly for making the company money, they screwed her out of her well earned compensation? ORACLE deserves to be crushed by ANY and ALL competitors in IT, whether it be Database, Unix, Cloud, or all of the above. Worthless pathetic nonsense. And Mark Hurd was involved? That explains it.

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