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Just a warning to those who are interested to take "Free Training" for IT positions

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An old article, but still worth reading. - The Business of Tech - The Force Field Investigates: LAN/WAN The Force Field Investigates: LAN/WAN ...

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    C.I.A. rodsky's Avatar
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    Default Just a warning to those who are interested to take "Free Training" for IT positions

    An old article, but still worth reading. - The Business of Tech - The Force Field Investigates: LAN/WAN

    The Force Field Investigates: LAN/WAN

    By Rick Savoia, on Saturday, 08 November 2008

    I received an invitation today to receive free training to be a LAN Administrator as part of a "LAN/WAN Internship and Placement Program". "Woo hoo!", I thought to myself. "free training. You can't beat free."

    The invitation was sent under the guise of " newsletter@lanwannews.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it ". Immediately the red flag went up.

    Now, I subscribe to dozens of tech newsletters so that in itself wasn't cause for alert, but I know what I subscribe to and I don't recall subscribing to this one. On closer inspection, it wasn't really a newsletter at all, it was an unsolicited e-mail offer. Spam.

    The first line said it was an "official e-mail" and said that I was "authorized" to receive a $2,995 training program gratis. Well, I thought, I guess I had better read the entire e-mail and find out just how free this offer is.

    As it turns out, it wasn't as free as they claimed. In fact, it wasn't free at all.

    The word "free" means just that. FREE. No strings attached, nothing to buy, no conditions. It is something given without clauses, without any charge, without supplemental fees. It costs absolutely, positively nothing, zero, that is why It's called "FREE".

    The training program is offered by a company called LAN/WAN Professional. Although the first paragraph of the e-mail stated that I would receive the "LAN Administrator Remote Training" free of charge, it later states that the offer is limited to "Stage 1" of the training only. Further down it adds that this "free" training requires a $95 application fee, a $195 registration fee (aren't "application" and "registration" generally the same thing?) and a $29 materials shipping and handling fee. Excuse me, but aren't we are missing something here, the "r" in "free"?

    So it isn't free, it's fee.

    The e-mail went on to spew out starting salaries for IT professionals and statistics about how job growth in the industry is expected to be 53.4% over the next ten years.Considering that figure is spread out over ten years, which is a long time in the IT industry, that margin of growth isn't too impressive, but it sounds great in a sales pitch to someone who isn't already in it.

    They even set a deadline for application of November 13. That is only five days away. "Well, I'd better get busy then", I thought. There was a contact name, phone number, fax number, e-mail address and URL to a web site. I decided to give them a call.

    The name of the contact was Patrick Pule, Director of Client Relations. It was a 949 area code, which was California. It was around 9:15 AM when I called and Mr. Pule wasn't in, but he had voice mail, so I left him a message. Of course, I had no intention of signing up, but that wasn't why I was calling. I wanted to check them out and find out if they were legit, or just how reputable they were. Since he wasn't available, I decided to Google around. What I found out was very interesting. I feel it is important to post it on The Force Field, in case anyone else gets such an e-mail and is in the market for certifications.

    First, the company now called LAN/WAN Professional was previously known by another name, Tech Pros Group. Apparently this company, also known as TPG in some forums and web sites, has quite a shady reputation. The company was allegedly founded by Eric Choi and operated by Choi and his brother, Ray. According to the company web site, their guaranteed success of the IT professional is somehow tied or dependent on the "financial success of the company", A strange statement for an organization that purports to train applicants for IT certifications. What does the financial success of the company have to do with how successful an IT professional becomes after he is trained and certified? Is this marketing double speak or an indication of the company's real objectives? One has to wonder.

    But that was only the beginning. As it turns out, a number of techs and techs in training signed up with the company for the alleged "free" training that was pitched to me. The results of this training, depending on who you talked to, were mixed.

    Complaints were posted and logged on a number of web sites. TechRepublic had the longest and most controversial discussions on the company and I only had time and patience enough to wade through about half of the posts about LAN/WAN . One notable and ardent supporter of Tech Pros Group/Lan/Wan Professionals was Steve Copeland, allegedly Vice President of Business Relations at Tech Pro Group, both defending his company and blasting dissenters for their posts.

    Consumer complaint site seemed to corroborate at least one of the stories posted by members of TechRepublic.The Better Business Bureau also had something to say about Tech Pros Group, saying that the company "failed to respond to complaints", "their advertising is grossly misleading", "they are not in compliance with the law's licensing or registration requirements" and gave the company an F rating.

    The company marketed itself heavily on until complaints and bad publicity prompted CareerBuilder to suspend their accounts in August. This may have been, at least to some degree, due to a series of postings in a blog by Brad Reese on NetworkWorld called Brad Reese on Cisco , in which Reese investigated complaints against TPG/LAN/WAN Professional and its questionable tactics in July 2008.

    Among the controversies circulated in several of these venues was a concept that brought into question the validity of the training program itself. Despite the claims by TPG that their internship and placement training program was "proven to fast track you to a professional level position as a LAN/WAN administrator, engineer, analyst or project manager", the company was not actually an accredited school or training center for IT certification. For instance, TPG had advertised Microsoft\Cisco paid internships on CareerBuilder that were actually marketing pitches to recruit applicants for their training programs. Reese posted an official statement on his blog August 1 from Fred Weiller, Director of Marketing for Learning@Cisco, in which Weiller said emphatically that TPG/LAN/WAN had no affiliation with Cisco.

    "Cisco has no relationship with them, and Cisco does not endorse their programs in any way", Weiller was quoted as saying. "Eric Choi is not registered as a Certified Cisco Systems Instructor CCSI."

    As for the actual certification, CertGuard, a company that validates IT certification testing sites and certification integrity, advised users in its forums to check out the company thoroughly before giving them any money for training programs.

    While it is possible you may not receive an e-mail from TPG, LANWAN or (there were links to both a .com and .net domain, so beware), It is likely you will receive similar solicitations for other IT training and certification programs from time to time. There are many of them out there and this industry is just as prone and vulnerable to solicitation from companies, individuals and organizations with questionable intent as any other.

    Just because we are in a field which requires us to be aware of all manner of schemes, scams and fraud against our customers doesn't mean we are always on guard against such things ourselves, as evidenced complaints and lawsuits lodged against companies like TPG. As such, I will include such companies and organizations in the IT Business Resource Directory from time to time in the future, not as an endorsement, but as a red flag to those who are solicited by these companies and want to know more about them before they get involved.

    Sometimes, you end up paying more than what you bargained for, ending up more broke than you started off with.


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    C.I.A. SQUiDnine's Avatar
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    same ba kaha neh aneh? About CIT

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