back to article Screwed SAP salesman scores $660,000 jury award

SAP America has been ordered to pay a former salesman $662,200 for screwing him out of commissions and then firing him when he complained. Steven Serabian sued SAP in January 2016 after the company kept failing to pay him agreed compensation for his work between 2011 and 2013. Documents produced at the five-day trial showed …

IT Angle

Hard to know what to think here...

...on the one hand he clearly got screwed by a very nasty company; but on the other, he was - by choice - a salesman of their awful product. So nothing much to recommend either side really.

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Re: Hard to know what to think here...

It doesn't matter if it was the worst pile of crap ever compiled on a computer if he sold it to customers he deserves the commission. This not being paid until the Customer pays his employer is BS.

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Headmaster

Re: Hard to know what to think here...

Payment upon revrec is common, especially when selling longer-term contracts with periodic payments. The alternative is payment upon booking, but if your client goes into delinquency for some reason, then the employer has to "claw back" the compensation already paid for revenue not received.

(And I haven't really used SAP products for 8 years now, but my experience back then was rather miserable.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hard to know what to think here...

>It doesn't matter if it was the worst pile of crap ever compiled on a computer ...

Clearly you have never had to use SAP CRM software.

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Re: Payment upon revrec is common

True, but if the client completes the deal the company owes the salesman his commission, whether he still works for them is immaterial.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hard to know what to think here...

>It doesn't matter if it was the worst pile of crap ever compiled on a computer ...

Clearly you have never had to use SAP CRM software.

On the other hand, if he managed to talk them into buying that particular software, SAP should be kissing his feet for working miracles.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hard to know what to think here...

If he put in the time, he should get his dime.

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Re: Hard to know what to think here...

Somewhere, right now, an old SCO salesman just got a little warm glow in whatever passes for their heart.

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Worst of the Worst... Oracle or SAP... Depends on the day

I guess SAP is working hard to mimic any new way Oracle figures out for screwing over customers or employees.

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Happy

Re: Worst of the Worst... Oracle or SAP... Depends on the day

At least SAP restricts their products to large companies, so the general public never has to deal directly with them.

Oracle on the other hand are responsible for Java, so I think in this case I'm going to have to side with Oracle being the worse of the two.

Maybe they could both start suing each other. What a happy thought :)

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Flame

Only $7200 for emotional distress? The way I see it, if I'm forced to sue to get what's mine from a previous employer, I should get at least a six-digits sum for emotional distress.

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salesmen have no real emotions that we are aware of. Plus he already closed the sale so there was no distress.The 7200 was because he had to cancel his spray tan.

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Jealousy doesn’t look good on you... all because you don’t have what it takes to step into the arena and succeed... how’s that for emotion mate???

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This has to be the funniest post I have ever read on the REG!

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Trollface

What about the emotional distress when a salesman has told we the customer it will do everything, only to find it doesn't without a load of dodgey changes to get it working.

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You want 6 digits? Here you go:

$7200.00

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Pint

One of these for dogged persistence

So, SAP tried to take him for a sap. It seems they are even bigger bastards that I've been told. I've never had the misfortune of having any dealings with such a shower. Even more fortunately I'm not likely to now either.

I hope he was also awarded full court costs.

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Re: One of these for dogged persistence

SAP likes to take its customers to the cleaners as well.

Building an external web portal that accesses logistics information in SAP means you need a license for every visitor to your website, according to SAP.

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Devil

A Story Best Avoided

SAP- "Stories are where your data comes to life."

This is what $660,000 of data had to say, said the former salesman.

Congrats SAP on owning that message.

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Its argument? That the salesman only gets paid when the customer pays SAP and that he can only get commissions while still working at the company. So even though he did the work and closed the deals, the company didn't get paid until after it had fired him, so he didn't deserve any compensation.

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SO

reading that phrase over and over, all I need to do is be a bastard owner - sorry BofH :oP - get decent sales team, and sack them once they SELL, but before client PAYS, and I save an absolute fortune .............. ?

I may be reading it wrong, has been known, but seriously, what kind of Co would even THINK that et alone try and use it IN COURT to justify not paying ffs

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Devil

Yep read that and could not believe they tried to use that argument in court. It really does highlight two things here.

First SAP is running neck and neck with oracle as the filthiest, slimiest gutter dwelling tech company to work for/ deal with.

Second, to be a great lawyer you really need to have absolutely no intelligence, moral compass or social conscience. The only thing that matters is how strong an argument you can make

You really want to take one of their licence agreements and beat them to a pulp with it

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'Second, to be a great lawyer you really need to have absolutely no intelligence, moral compass or social conscience. The only thing that matters is how strong an argument you can make'

Almost right there FozzyBear, you need intelligence to be a lawyer. There are exams to pass and there is a lot of competition.

Intelligence - Yes

Moral Compass - No

Social Conscience - No

Making a strong argument (story telling) - Yes

Having had the misfortune to be in the dock and on the Jury I can't emphasise the STORY TELLING (sorry for going all bombastic bob there on y'all) enough.

That's how they make their money, they create narratives.

I've also had the misfortune to have to speak in coroner's court which although upsetting was a non-adversarial setting which to me seemed much better designed to getting at the truth.

Adversarial courts are about the best storytellers/liars/lawyers, not the truth IMHO.

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Holmes

"reading that phrase over and over, all I need to do is be a bastard owner - sorry BofH :oP - get decent sales team, and sack them once they SELL, but before client PAYS, and I save an absolute fortune .............. ?"

Yes, that happens very frequently.

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"Its argument? That the salesman only gets paid when the customer pays SAP and that he can only get commissions while still working at the company. So even though he did the work and closed the deals, the company didn't get paid until after it had fired him, so he didn't deserve any compensation."

So similarly, if I hired an assassin to shoot SAP managers and lawyers (let's not get into too much detail as to how, when, where and whom (Sorry to Mr K's six honest serving men) as long as I didn't pay him until the indescribable event had happened, then I wouldn't have to pay him., "even though he did the work and closed the deals" and there would be no chain of culpable evidence by their rules.

OK, seems a bit dubious to me, but if that is the rules according to SAP, then who am I to dispute it. Get to sort them out, and it is free (although if the team doing the takeout do get to claim, they can always point out that SAP lost; so they presumably would pay their fees.)

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Um, you do realise you're talking about hiring an assassin ?

Those guys get paid.

Always.

One way or the other.

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Well yes - that was the point of the comment. When law simply becomes a purchasable commodity then it is imperative and good science to find the cheapest solution. (A sort of re-analysis of Occam's razor.) And since according to the rules that Oracle seems to want to play by, then if you can win, with a trivial solution, and not have to pay for it, it seems the obvious solution.

Sorry, we may have a conceptual misunderstanding here. Are you implying that I should let them fuck me up simply because they have more money than me, and that means I must play by their rules.

To make it quite clear, I have no personal, impersonal, or otherwise vested interest in dealing with Oracle, their employees, or any other business that is associated to the nth degree with them. I am simply, and impersonally exploring a theoretical process that follows on from the logical imperatives that I (myself, and purely as a personal thought experiment) have traced to a single set of conclusions. Their is no implicit instructions, no incitement, it is merely a single (but not sole) analysis based on what I understand to be described as a "thought experiment".

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Damn, I thought IBM had the title of the worst company ever.

That's some really wild logic. Would I want to buy software developed with that kind of logic? Probably not.

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Re: Damn, I thought IBM had the title of the worst company ever.

IBM is just a mere beginner in this contest. Of course IBM made the news lately with some of these capers, but it used to be a pretty decent company and it is nowhere near up to the standards held aloft by Oracle, SAP et al.

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Re: Damn, I thought IBM had the title of the worst company ever.

<quote>...but it used to be a pretty decent company and it is nowhere near up to the standards held aloft shat upon by Oracle, SAP et al.</quote>

FTFY!!!

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So SAP are still ahead?

They still pay him $145,000 less than he claimed. Of course, there's the costs - was he awarded costs? If not, and assuming SAP were using in-house lawyers, their additional costs could be minimal.

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Re: So SAP are still ahead?

They still pay him $145,000 less than he claimed.

They paid him about that much when they canned him, with a promise of the rest of what they claimed they owed him to come later, except it never came, so no, he couldn't claim that money in the suit.

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Using SAP's argument

If I buy one of their products, and they sack the salesperson who sold it to me before I've paid, I no longer have to pay SAP for the product.

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Welcome to the world of software sales!

Delaying payment of commission until the company gets paid keeps the salesperson in their job. When a salesperson gets approached by another company (and that happens all of the time if you are a top performer) you have to work out how much commission is owed to you and weigh it up against what you will gain from the new role. Having to walk away from a lump of cash makes the decision more difficult. I have seen salespeople check their bank accounts to make sure that commission has been paid before they have handed their notice in to be on the safe side.

Another downside of being in sales (and this will probably be of more interest to the readers of The Reg) is that when we sell stuff to a customer and the implementation team make a b*lls up of implementing it, the salesperson is not only delayed in getting paid the commission, but if the customer refuses to pay the full amount due to the b*lls up the percentage that the salesperson gets is also reduced. We love it when that happens!!

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Re: Welcome to the world of software sales!

"Another downside of being in sales (and this will probably be of more interest to the readers of The Reg) is that when we sell stuff to a customer and the implementation team make a b*lls up of implementing it, the salesperson is not only delayed in getting paid the commission, but if the customer refuses to pay the full amount due to the b*lls up the percentage that the salesperson gets is also reduced. We love it when that happens!!"

As a programmer, who frequently has to deliver the impossible stuff sold by a salesman, I do applaud that reduction in the commission. I can only wish it happened more often and could bite in his base salary as well.

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Re: Welcome to the world of software sales!

As a senior level freelance SAP/ERP TPM I agree with your view. Most enterprise level software/hardware salesmen that I've ever had the misfortune of dealing with or have had to work alongside have been overfriendly slimy asswipes.

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Re: Welcome to the world of software sales!

"Another downside of being in sales (and this will probably be of more interest to the readers of The Reg) is that when we sell stuff to a customer and the implementation team make a b*lls up of implementing it, the salesperson is not only delayed in getting paid the commission, but if the customer refuses to pay the full amount due to the b*lls up the percentage that the salesperson gets is also reduced."

I used to work for an IBM business partner, and can tell you that's how it works at IBM too. If a customer buys a software product, they often have the right to return it if unused. When that happens, the commission is reclaimed from the seller - which is good, because an unethical seller who sold the client something they didn't want or need ultimately won't get paid on the deal, so it forces them to focus on stuff with real value.

Where this falls down is when the seller has left the company or moved out of Sales by the time the client returns the product. There's no way in hell that IBM will be left out of pocket, so it's the seller who owns the client account at that moment who is responsible for paying back the commission. Which sucks as you're paying for somebody else's mistake. I've seen sellers join Big Blue, collect a negative commission in their first quarter due to their predecessor's f*ckups, and then leave disgusted and demoralised. If they were any good, we used to snap them up.

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Anonymous Coward

#Really??

This puts "screwing the employee" at a level that is above and beyond IBM, Compaq, and HP.

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Anonymous Coward

They probably did try to pay the commission... using their own software, couldn’t figure out how, then it crashed

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SAP admitted while firing him that it owed him over $230,000 in unpaid commission and promised to pay it to him in two installments – half when he was let go and the other half a year later in November 2015.

You make an agreement you honour that agreement. Not go back on it the second the other party has left the building.

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Trollface

Yeah, but that is so last millennium.

These days it's all about screwing.

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"You make an agreement you honour that agreement. Not go back on it the second the other party has left the building."

Robert Kilroy Silk, formerly of UKIP, put it well here.

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Anonymous Coward

when's a SAP salesman supposed to get paid? When the order is received or when the implementation goes down in flames 5 years later ?

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Coffee/keyboard

This -->

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The lesson

If you care about ethics don't work with SAP.

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Anyone currently working, or considering working for SAP should now re-evaluating their choice.

Is it worth the potential frustration,...?

In my opinion, having been crapped on from a great height by another well known Printer Manufacturer...

It's not worth it.... the stress, frustration, lies and manipulation from bad management aren't worth it.

Move on..

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Extraordinarily filthy behaviour

"Its argument? That the salesman only gets paid when the customer pays SAP and that he can only get commissions while still working at the company. So even though he did the work and closed the deals, the company didn't get paid until after it had fired him, so he didn't deserve any compensation."

More and more often these days, when witnessing the conduct of a large company or a government, I find myself wondering: how can these ... creatures ... stomach looking at their own faces in a mirror?

Whether a modern senior executive or a politician—and saving the few notable, honourable exceptions—it seems that the behaviour of a lizard and the morals of a stoat are all that's needed: these are people missing some important piece of humanity, and they certainly know no shame.

How much more disgusting is our species to become as its members, jostling like swine at a trough, grub blindly for money?

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So a company that..

....made roughly 3 billion Euros (can't find a symbol on the keyboard) last year still won't cough up.

Arseholes.

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