back to article Oracle 'systematically stiffed its salesforce' claims new sueball

A new lawsuit filed by a former Oracle employee alleges the software giant “has systematically stiffed its sales force of earned commission wages for many years, by scrapping contractual compensation plans when they yield commission earnings that are higher than Oracle would prefer to pay and retroactively imposing inferior – i. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have heard this story from other Oracle reps. The "commissions" are a discretionary bonus paid to salespeople, not technically commissions. Commissions being you have a contract to get x% of sales, as the VARs have in place. That is true at every company I am aware of though. "Commissions" are almost always technically a bonus. Interesting twist with the CA law.... I guess the retroactive clawback is better than the method employed by other organizations though, set the sales goals so high that almost no one hits quota.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      SOP then?

      As the Oracle prime directive seems to be 'get as much $$$ by any means and spend as little $$$$ by any means and sue those who get in our way".

      Then Larry says, "We aren't making enough so lets kick the sales force in the balls and screw the lot of them into working for us got nothing."

      And to think that once upon a time I thought that might like to work for them (shudder)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SOP then?

        I had no choice but to work for them when the company I worked for was acquired by the bastards and then the bonus scheme we had previously done well out of because we were a strong, growing company disappeared into the bowels of Oracle and we never got another bonus or even a pay rise in the 3 years I stuck it out.

        Fuck Oracle you bastards!

    2. jcitron

      Yes I heard this too more than once. The sales people, mostly very young college grads now because Hurd won't hire anymore seasoned sales people, are given a yarn and a big dance on how big their commissions will be as that will offset their pittance of a salary. In the end most of these people leave so the company never has to pay out, and those that do stay end up leaving eventually due to being screwed.

      I was also told that executive bonuses are paid first then the commissions are paid out afterwards. Hurd, et al, get humungously insane amounts of cash bonuses, and once that's paid out they delay paying the sales people bonuses and then usually find a way to not pay them due to some technicality.

      Being the local support tech, I was an ear to lean on when the frustration got pretty high, and I heard this first while I was still there from more than one sales representative, then later on from someone I spoke with at a car repair shop 3 years after I left.

      It so happened we were talking about workplaces, and she was an outside sales rep. We talked at length, much to her boyfriend's irk, I think he was jealous, but I got the low down that this crap was true as it was the same as I heard in-house. I also found out that some of the big VPs I supported left as well and went off to places like SAP and SalesForce.

      If Hurd keeps it up, he'll turn Oracle into another HP.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "'get as much $$$ by any means and spend as little $$$$ by any means"

    I hate to tell you but that's pretty much SOP for all businesses.

    The "and sue those who get in our way" is more a specialty of IT and media companies however.

    BTW is that "$20000" or "$20 000," cause that suggests an Oracle sales rep so strapped for cash they can't pay what should be a pretty small amount off.

    1. Calleb III

      Re: "'get as much $$$ by any means and spend as little $$$$ by any means"

      >I hate to tell you but that's pretty much SOP for all businesses.

      Not quite, while maximizing income and minimizing expense is SOP for all business, the "by any means" part is definitely not

      1. HAL-9000

        Re: "'get as much $$$ by any means and spend as little $$$$ by any means"

        Can I have some of your wacky backy, pwettttty purleeaaaseeee

    2. jcitron

      Re: "'get as much $$$ by any means and spend as little $$$$ by any means"

      I worked for Big Red in IT for the sales guys and I heard stuff all the time like this. These people don't make as much money as you think, and they will put you in debt in various ways. The sales people get a very small base salary with big promises of making a lot more.

      The sales people incur a lot of on the road expenses which are put on corporate credit cards which they themselves will become responsible for if the company does not pay the bill. Now Oracle does not like to pay bills. I found this out the hard way for something really, really small. The process is to put in the expense report with the receipt. Coming from any other company, this is the normal process. You fill out the expense report form, attach mileage, gas, food, and other trip incurred receipts. No brainer... and your manager signs it off.

      Oracle it seems likes to jerk off elephants and make the process overly complicated, but it's essentially the same. Using their online system, you insert scanned receipt(s), type up the form and send it off your manager for approval. This takes a day and the process is now in the queue. You're happy you're getting your money back and you can pay the now huge AMEX bill.

      Once the approval comes back, you then go back into the submission and click some boxes on the form, and send the package off (again) this time to AP which is located in India.

      Do you get your money right away? Nope. Instead you get an email from the useless ones in India stating they didn't get the invoice. You resubmit the invoice... Wait... nope no invoice still can't find it. Oh wait... the submission is wrong you have do it again. This is the same one your own manager has approved, but this jerk-off puts up the circle jerk to stall the process.

      Then finally the claim is denied anyway because the submission was done too late for processing!

      In my case it was $25.00 because we had a dinner expense. The $25.00 was for one other employee and myself. I sucked it up and dealt with that. But imagine what it's like when you've charged up $100s in airline and travel expenses, as well as other costs, and still get stuck with the bill. When people travel, they can incur $5,000 or more expenses in one shot.

      Oracle sucks and I'm glad they got hit again with a lawsuit.

  3. Alien8n Silver badge

    Legality?

    Am I missing something here? Surely what Oracle are doing should be illegal? I have a contract where I work and it states how much I earn. My salary changes year on year, and while it can go down as well as up it doesn't affect money I've already earned. Unless a payment is made in error it cannot be clawed back. If Oracle's employees have earned past commissions they should be paid at the rate their contract states at the time that contract is valid for. By refusing to pay these commissions and clawing back commission that was previously valid according to the contract in force at the time it was earned surely Oracle is in breach of that contract, regardless of what the new contract states. Financial recompense cannot be applied retrospectively, it must be applied to the terms valid at the time it was earned.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Legality?

      That is the method they use... "paid in error" or "overpaid". Most people just accept it because what are you going to do. I have never heard of anyone actually trying it, but I doubt Oracle would actually be able to collect if someone was told they owed $x based on some mid stream comp plan change and that person then left the company with a negative balance. They might be able to not pay you what you think you are owed, as it is technically a discretionary bonus. After it has been paid out though, I don't think they would be able to do anything about it... as it is technically a discretionary bonus. They may send demand letters, etc and hope to scare you into paying, but I don't think they would ever want to take it to court.... The issue, of course, is that most people are not going to be in a position where they can just quit their job with another one lined up for this unexpected situation and then they will get future earnings clawed back.

  4. adam payne Silver badge

    "The filing also claims that Oracle's changes mean that retrospective changes to commissions sometimes see employees deemed to have been over-paid. Those workers are then deemed to have a “negative commission” debt to Oracle, which is recovered by not paying new commissions. If an employee considers leaving, the filing says Oracle points out it can recover the debt in court."

    Johnson found herself with US$20,000 of such debt to Oracle and the filing says could not afford to repay it. “As a result, Plaintiff felt she had no choice but to continue working for Oracle for months without being paid any commissions. The new commissions she earned were levied by Oracle to offset the 'negative commission balance' resulting from retroactive imposition of the inferior commission rate.”

    How can any company retrospective change commissions rates and to such an extent that it puts someone in serious debt to the company.

    How can that be legal? if true it is morally reprehensible.

    1. Swarthy Silver badge

      Looks like Oracle has taken their sales commission plan from Sixteen Tons.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      New improved contract

      Get used it, since when did business and morallity occupy the same universe.

      ps Fox news is characteristically quiet on this fake news

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      How can that be legal?

      Simple. Like any law. If no one complains the law does not know about it. :(

      if true it is morally reprehensible.

      Yes it is.

  5. Daedalus Silver badge

    Why aren't they rushing for the exits?

    Plenty of companies have found that scaring the sales droids is not a good idea. Whatever you think of them as people, they bring in the money. Companies that make that mistake tend to see sudden revenue drops, dips in share prices, and cries from irate shareholders.

  6. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    One idea

    Maybe they want their sales reps to understand viscerally how the customers feel.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Oracle may try to play semantics here

    Because, you know, the law.

    Oracle (hypothetical) defense: "Commissions are not 'wages' and therefore not subject to Cal Labor Code § 223."

    ObDisclaimer: IANAL. Even if I were, this wouldn't be legal advice, because what sane decent human being wants to give Oracle beneficial advice?

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Well that's a first

    First time I've ever felt sympathy for a sales person. If only a fraction of what's claimed is true, then Oracle are even bigger bastards than I thought.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Well that's a first

      Having worked closely with sales and marketing people, the good ones are worth their weight in good with a hefty multiplier. They get new business but more importantly they keep existing customers. Smart CEOs know this and try to keep them happy. Screwing your sales force is setting yourself up for failure about 3 - 5 years as the good ones leave and are not replaced. Another point about keeping existing customers, a customer may be more loyal to your ex-sales person than to your company. The relationship was often with a small group of people within your company.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well that's a first

      It's all true. Not only does Oracle stiff nearly ALL of their sales people, sales reps and engineers, men and women alike, they even do so to their new college grads. I just left Oracle recently and was there for less than a year. I encouraged every college hire I worked with to not let Oracle influence their perception of sales or the industry.

      When I onboarded, I signed an agreement that stated my bonus would be $X dollars paid out quarterly. I got a small fraction of that. Let's say my bonus was $100 per quarter, I got something more like $20. That was common amongst all of the sales people I'd worked with. They set unrealistic goals for their sales people and treat customers like garbage. I've seen upper management change everybody's bonus structure and I've seen other people have their base salaries adjusted without reason. The way that upper management isolated themselves in their executive bubble swimming in the cash that we (the sales people) earned for them was deplorable. I felt genuinely bad for their customers; sales reps were put in positions where they would have to request audits for their accounts so that they could actually make some money to pay their bills at the cost of their customer's trust.

      Oracle probably doesn't realize this but they're developing an army of sales people to sell against them not just due to their profession but out of passion.

      If you're currently evaluating an Oracle solution, do yourself, your peers, your company, and your customers a favor and continue looking.

      If you're currently a sales person at Oracle, you understand what I'm talking about. Build up a good resume and search for other opportunities quickly. Most employers understand that Oracle is a terrible company.

      1. jcitron

        Re: Well that's a first

        I was told this as well by some of the people I supported. Things were not this bad until Hurd took over. After that we all got screwed. I was in onsite support for OD. My manager was awesome, but the work load steadily increased to a point of ridiculous as staff was cut. Yeah, we were supporting nearly 700 people in our office and were then given global support as well.

        Like you I am no longer there due to medical reasons, mind you but I don't miss the stress either.

        Good luck and I'm sure you will do much better in another organization.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well that's a first

        That seems to be the new standard in sales - set unrealistic goals. If a normal sales goal is 10-15% growth over whatever a set of accounts did last year, just make it 50% or 100% what the accounts did last year. Not only do you get to not pay the salespeople and save a bunch of cash, but you can also blame them for the company basically cutting their salary. Just tell the sales people that they are at 60% of quota, or whatever, which is completely unacceptable (even if 60% of quota = a 5% increase on what the accounts did last year) and turn up the pressure. The company can pressure the salesforce to work harder, sell more while at the same time reducing their costs. Pure genius from finance's perspective.... The only downside is that you may have to replace 20-30% of your salesforce every year.

  9. TVU Silver badge

    Oracle 'systematically stiffed its salesforce' claims new sueball

    Yeah, Larry's Oracle stiffing everybody and suing everybody is known news. The difference this time is that someone is suing Oracle and not the other way round so all good luck to that person.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just Oracle...

    Had this at IBM too. Almost a carbon copy of the Oracle suite - 24 hours to accept a new compensation plan, commission caps being arbitrarily (and retroactively) applied, and new 'rules' being applied to minimise commission payment*. I never had to pay anything back, although a couple of times I did end up accepting a 'settlement' in place of what I'd earned.

    * One of the more common tricks was withholding earned commission on 'Bluebirds' - IBM sellers know all about this.

    Posting anon for obvious reasons.

  11. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Yayyy!

    Which means more court action - yay!

    Finally, some good news at last!

    * forms a one-man conga line around the office

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