Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Oracle Businesses The Courts IT Your Rights Online

Oracle Sued For 'Extortion, Lies' By Montclair State University 359

angry tapir writes "Montclair State University is suing Oracle in connection with a troubled ERP (enterprise resource planning) project. Montclair's complaint, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, states that Oracle made an array of 'intentionally false statements' regarding the functionality of its base ERP system, the amount of customization that would be required, and the amount of 'time, resources, and personnel that the University would have to devote.' 'Ultimately, after missing a critical go-live deadline for the University's finance system, Oracle sought to extort millions of dollars from the University by advising the University that it would not complete the implementation of the ... project unless the University agreed to pay millions of dollars more than the fixed fee the University and Oracle had previously agreed to,' it adds."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Oracle Sued For 'Extortion, Lies' By Montclair State University

Comments Filter:
  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:05AM (#38382402) Journal

    This isn't just the sales guys, even from TFS, this is an initial contract that had to have been breached by at least one party, and Oracle is now requiring millions of dollars to fix the issue caused by the breach. The university is claiming the breach was by Oracle, and therefore the university should not have to pay.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:33AM (#38382738)

    Tuition and fees? In 2011-12, public four-year colleges charge, on average, $8,244 in tuition and fees for in-state students. Per year

    Books? which at four-year public colleges in 2011-12 is $1,168 per year

    You mean you have to LIVE too? The national average in 2011-12 for four-year public college students who live on campus is $2,066 (off campus $1,082) These are expenses that a college student has to pay that a non-student doesn't. Per year

    Average cost of a four-year degree at an in-state school for someone living off-campus?

    (8244+1168+1082)*4 = $41,976

    Did you skip the math classes?


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:38AM (#38382800)

    Medical and law students would be the other camp in which I could see a justification for such an amount of student loan debt.

    Law school is not worth it. Many recent law graduates are regretting their decision (and their debt) because the legal market dove just as much if not more than the housing market. There aren't jobs. If you want to have >$100,00 of loan debt and work as an insurance agent, go to law school.

    In summary, if you are thinking about law school, RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!! If you are in your first year of law school, and you aren't in a top 10 institution or in the top 10% of your class, cut your losses and RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!!! Student debt can't be discharged in bankruptcy! You will be SCREWED if you stay in!!!!

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:41AM (#38382836) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to know in what year you managed to complete four years of college for 15 to 20 thousand dollars. That much money wouldn't have paid for basic tuition in several decades. And, that's assuming that your mom and dad lived so close to the university that you could live at home and commute. []
    At SAU, which is your typical "in-state school", 4 years of education is going to cost about $60k. That doesn't include books, of course, or snacks, or any damned thing, except the tuition. Projects, supplies, transportation, a night out once in awhile, toothpaste and soap are all additional.

    Maybe you're referring to a vocational / agricultural education, in a local community college? Yeah, you can get by for a whole lot less,

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:42AM (#38382858) Homepage

    Isn't this standard for their Peoplesoft product? We went through hell with it where I work years ago. Cost around 20 million more than it should have.

    I worked on a project several years ago involving some collaborative software from Oracle.

    The software was not mature enough to be out of beta, definitely not mature enough to be sold to customers, and in the end required vast amounts of resources over and above what we were told it would.

    In effect, they were selling snake oil, and they knew it. And, they wanted more money to deliver.

    Not saying this is in any way similar to what is happening at this university, but I know first hand Oracle isn't above selling you a product they haven't finished writing yet. In fact, I think it's part of their business model.

  • by proud american ( 1003577 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @10:43AM (#38382874)

    Dont know where you get your numbers from.

    USA Today: In 2009-10, average published tuition and fees for in-state students at public flagship universities in the U.S. are $8,353, compared to $7,797 at all public doctorate-granting universities and $7,020 at all public four-year institutions: []

    Annual in-state commuter student tuition at state schools in my area

    Delaware - about 11,500. []
    NJ Rutgers - $12,755. []
    NY SUNY - $14,750. []
    Pennsylvania - 15,000 - 17,500. []

  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:00AM (#38383050)

    Ah, no. If my kids were not in college they would probably still be at home. As it is, each of them are paying $7200/yr in rent which they otherwise would not be paying. They also pay for heating and utilities which they would not be paying. That is at least $32000 over four years that is a direct cost of going to college.

  • Re:It's not lying (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:01AM (#38383056) Homepage Journal

    That's why you have lawyers on retainer to hand these to for review before signing anything. They either hand it back to you and say "looks good" or they tear it up and toss it in their bin and say "we need to talk".

    Any decent lawyer can spot BS in a contract. Longer contracts just take longer to examine, they don't add a lot of risk of missing something if the lawyer is any good.

    I think it's safe to assume that a university has and uses intelligent lawyers and that they have a case. But time will tell.

  • by CaptainPinko ( 753849 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:15AM (#38383212)

    Stop whining and take some accountability. Go to a cheaper school. If you're 12 years old surely you can understand that.

    Really?!!? Because when I was 12 years old every teacher I had told me that university was magical faerie dust that sprinkled on your education guaranteed middle-class jobs and income (no mention of which discipline you study mattering). The same people we were always supposed to listen to and obey. The same ones that taught us to read and do math. So is it our fault really if after over a decade in their system listening to that mantra we fell for it? Frankly, I think society has to own up to its part in the brainwashing and hype that went on there and the resulting debt and useless degrees. PS- does not apply to me, I got a STEM degree paid for by my parents and now have a soulless cubicle job making mad bank and a boring joyless life.

  • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:21AM (#38383298)

    OTH, people getting into $60K for a degree in History or Social Science is just absolutely retarded. I could understand that debt in those degrees if the student 1) goes to a private Ivy League school, and 2) go all the way for a Ph.D. But for a B.A in those fields?

    Both of your points are misguided.

    1) Ivy League schools are the best in the country for avoiding debt. The Ivies I know stopped including student loans as part of financial aid. They replaced them with grants. Furthermore, comparing the financial aid offered by an Ivy to the same package offered to the same student at a non-Ivy private school, the Ivies tend to be much more generous. I went to an Ivy before they eliminated student loans, but even then they had a max loan amount of about $20k for 4 years.

    2) PhD programs, even in history and other social sciences, don't involve debt. The department pays the student, not the other way around.

    A student who goes to an Ivy League school for a history degree and then gets a PhD in the field will have no education-related debt whatsoever.

  • by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:54AM (#38383796)

    I guess it depends on what we're including in the cost. I went to Illinois State in the early 2000s, an in-state school and not a top-end one. All told it cost me in the area of $10,000 a year, which included the tuition and the various fees, and housing. Looking at the webpage for the current rates*, it looks like about $18,500 for tuition + board (I'm honestly shocked, wow). The breakdown is about $10k tuition + $8k housing.

    Obviously if you take housing out, that fee would drop substantially -- but that is a limited opportunity for people who happen to go to a school close enough to commute to. Otherwise the choice is living in an apartment nearby and you're just shifting the housing cost into somebody else's pocket; it's still an expense of attending school.

    By comparison, looking at the University of Illinois website right now (which is a good school) tuition/fees run $13,658 for residents, which does not include housing. For a room you share with somebody else and a meal plan, tack on another $9,714 a year for a total of $23,372. Per year.

    None of these numbers include books or doing anything other than marching from class to class and back to your dorm with an occasional stop to eat (not that I advocate putting anything else into your debt), by the way. So they are all I'd say around $1,000 a year low for books alone. (And incidentally the stat I was given when I started college was that only something like 20% of students would actually complete their degree in four years.)

    I'm sure that location affects things somewhat (Illinois is not a cheap state and I'm sure something like South Dakota would be cheaper), but perhaps the disconnect hinges on "debt." I think it's pretty easily demonstrable that the cost of these educations can very easily reach and exceed $60,000 over a four-year period without going to Harvard or Yale or any such. Whether or not you go into that much debt depends on a lot of things, chief among them whether or not you are also working while you attend college and how much, how much various financial aid you manage to accrue, and of course if you spend a lot of time going out and partying or anything that like that eats into your money and prompts you to let more of the other monies come from debt instead of income.

    I'm perfectly willing to assume that prices may be a lot cheaper elsewhere, but unless you attend Bumblefuck Egypt School of Whatever as an in-state student living at home, or are trying to compare the costs of a 1970 education to todays (just look at the comparison from early 2000s to now!), I have an extremely hard time believing something like 15-20k for an entire four year degree is within the realm of feasibility. If you're paying nothing but tuition, yeah, maybe.

    There is a difference between a freshman entering school and not knowing what to study, and that same person cruising around for the next 4 years without ever thinking "shit, how is my education going to get me a job with which to repay by debt?"

    I don't disagree, but at the same time most colleges are just fucking terrible at teaching you skills needed to get and do well in a job; their reward primarily is the piece of paper at the end and possibly some connections you make in the interim, not what you are actually taught. When this is brought up to people we tend to be told that university isn't job training, it's about getting an education, and that people who want that should go attend a vocational school. There is a disconnect there. People should go tens of thousands into debt to "upgrade" to a four-year degree that doesn't teach them things they're going to use in their job, but still need to make sure they choose a degree that is going to get them a job? It's not logically impossible, but it is clear evidence of a problem (that universities are happy to exploit).

    * Here's a good one, and a great example of another problem. I used their "cost estimator" and told them I

  • Re:Other side? (Score:5, Informative)

    by BLKMGK ( 34057 ) <> on Thursday December 15, 2011 @11:58AM (#38383836) Homepage Journal

    They doubled the length of their COURT FILING not their requirements. They revised their court filing to more clearly state their case and in doing so added in pages of requirements to the filing that weren't there to begin with. Further - Oracle used another college as an example of a successful implementation of their project doing similar sorts of work but FAILED to mention the fine print of the fact that the other college was using FOUR times the resources that this one had at it's disposal. There's also an interesting blurb in the article about Oracle demonstrating the system doing application management and representing this as being base functionality when in fact it was 3rd party code that they later wanted the university to purchase at additional cost from the sounds of it....

    Is your reading comprehension really that bad or were you biased against the university to begin with? It remains to be seen who's at fault here but it sure doesn't sound great for Oracle right now.

  • Re:It's not lying (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @12:38PM (#38384364) Homepage

    I'm not saying Oracle is in the right here, but I believe the article said they initially made a spec with 3200 items, which apparently became a moving target.

    True that the article said they made a spec with 3200 items, but the article doesn't say that spec became a moving target. MSU wasn't changing their requirements (at least, TFA doesn't say that).

    It seems to suggest that the demo Oracle presented which showed that it could meet "95 percent of MSU's business requirements" out of the box:

    Before it won the bid, Oracle also conducted live demonstrations of its software that used test scripts prepared by the university. One demonstration involved "a robust on-line application process for Undergraduate and Graduate Admissions ... that it falsely represented was an existing part of the base system and satisfied the University's requirements," the complaint states.

    But in fact, "Oracle's ultimate implementation plan was to sell the University a third-party product called 'Embark' to satisfy those requirements, suggesting the initial 'live' demonstration was rigged," it adds. A "substantial" amount of customization was needed in the end, according to the complaint.

    I've seen demos in which the vendor is claiming that the software already does the things you need it to, only to find out that what we actually got shown was an add-on component we'd have to buy, as well as a large amount of customization we'd be expected to pay for. In other words, the demo was pure bullshit, and we called them on it. It also means that the estimate they provided didn't actually include the functionality you said was mandatory ... you get some fraction of that, and they expect you to pay for what they didn't provide you. They just don't tell you until after the fact that they didn't sell you what they told you they were going to.

    It's like being shown a car, only to find out that it doesn't really come with an engine, the transmission hasn't been done yet, and if you try to use the wipers something will catch fire.

    Not saying Oracle did all of this here ... but it's far from unprecedented for the demo you get shown that 'proves' you meet all of the criteria has a bunch of huge gaps in it the vendor has no idea of how to address. At that point, it's hard not to see it as a little fraudulent.

  • Re:It's not lying (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ex-Softie ( 2532638 ) on Thursday December 15, 2011 @02:28PM (#38385840)
    In the late 90's I was CTO for a major company. We had to upgrade Oracle DB and Financials due to Y2K requirements. The upgrade repeatedly failed in testing. All work was done by Oracle Consulting. The cost overrun was almost $500k, and it was subsequently uncovered that the problem was an Oracle bug that stomped its own memory, causing database corruption. They refused to refund the costs despite its being Oracle's fault. So I can well believe that the university in this case was duped.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.