Dear Training Providers and developers,

Our company name is SmartScript.  We've been in the development business since 2005, and we've had some very unfortunate dealings in the past, as have many of our clients.

It would appear there are some unsavoury characters out there who pretend to be developers and disappear once the provider has paid for their material, or they steal material and sell it as their own.

We would like to assist in pushing these people out of the training and development business so dealings in this industry is always pleasant and more importantly safe for all of us.

In order to do this, we have a few tips for prospective buyers of training material:

  • Ask as many questions as you can about who developed the material.
  • Check the business credentials of the people you are dealing with.
  • Do they have a registered company?
  • Do they have a website?
  • Do they have a company email address or is it a web address like @yahoo. Despite the best efforts of web mail based companies, it is still easy for these "fly by nighters" to get a quick and disposable email address. 
  • When purchasing material, ask for a letter of purchase on a company letterhead.

These are just a few things to help you ensure you get good training material, or actually get any material at all in some cases.

It really saddens us to hear all the stories of misfortune in purchasing training material.

Please be vigilant and lets fight this together as providers and developers.

Your comments are most welcome and would love for you to leave suggestions on how else providers can verify who it is they are buying from, and also what we as material developers can do to set your mind at ease when purchasing material.


SmartScript team

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Replies to This Discussion

I lost money last week. After paying for material the guy just disappeared.


Dear Albert

Hope all is well with you.

Sorry for your loss,I have also experience a situation when the Service provider dissapaered with YMPG Publishers learning material before payment.


YMPG Publishers would like to develop or customise the learning material qualification you have lost for free.

Kindly  send us the Qualification ID OR tittle and timeline that you need this qualification to be delivered to you.

Contact Person:Duduzile Zwane or 0733326005 


Hi Albert,

That's terrible, I'm sorry to hear you lost money to unsavory "developers".

This is exactly why I'm concerned and why I wrote this article.  I cannot tell you how many of our clients have gone through this type of experience. 

Likewise, people steal our material from colleges and then sell it as their own. 

This type of behavior makes me furious and I really feel training providers  and developers should start working together to push these people out of business.  If there is no market for them to sell to, they cannot make an existence and will have to find something else to do.

Would you mind terribly to send me the details of the person who sold you this bogus material to my inbox?  We are in the process of building a database containing names and email addresses of fraudsters so if they do come up, we can warn our clients.

Perhaps we can assist you with the material you need?

Kind regards,



Dear Service Providers


Don't pay for learning material you have'nt evaluated,no matter how urgent it may be,Developers should provide you with the following iterms before the first deposit:


Qualification or Unit standard Alignment matrix

Learning material Sample work


To get more advises on this contact

Duduzile Zwane


Good day Fellow Practitioners,

I agree that one way of making sure you are not dealing with a fly-by-night Developer is to ensure that you buy from a 'juristic person', i.e. a company that can prove its existence with a Tax Clearance certificate, founding statement et al.

In addition:  ask the seller for current contactable references - names and numbers - of Facilitators / Assessors / Training Providers who have used the material.

That not withstanding, the most telling item that will separate the wheat from the chaff, when purchasing NQF aligned / credit-bearing Learning Material, is a Moderation report by a Registered and Constituent Internal Moderator.

DO NOT go near the Developer / Seller if there is no Internal Moderation report that declares the Assessment Instruments fit-for-purpose.

If one has developed material and if one is an ethical Practitioner then one will have the material Moderated at one's own cost.

Moderation of material is a very important control point in the (regulated) Learner certification process.


Scrupulous! Scrupulous people!

My  piece of advise is to demand for tax clearance, bank account and a telephone number of that bank.  Then make a follow-up by checking the authenticity of that account, owner and contacts with the bank.  Clearly state your motive to the bank by giving all the details.  Then pay through that bank and request the bank to be your guarantor or a go between in-case  some one gets funny! 

Please can members confirm to me - what is the status of training material developed by SETAs?

I remember many many years ago that the Foodbev had material for their companies to use.

Then I remember that the Agriseta had some very good material for the landscapers.

What is the status of SETA training material - does it still exist - is it available - what are the requirements for using it? 

Hi Sylvia,

There is nothing consistent amongst the SETA's regarding this.  Some have available material or are currently arranging, others have some material available but it is generally overbearing and not print friendly in terms of size and printing costs.  In most of the cases where the material is available, it still needs some tweaking anyway. I have encountered some SETA issued training material that has not been developed by SME's and consequently falls short of regulatory requirements. Most of my materials are LMO aligned programmes, all of which have received prior approval from TETA so that providers do not need to submit materials for evaluation.  CETA on the other hand, only review materials when carrying out their site visit, so they don't give these letters of approval.

Two sides to this story! I think the safest approach in any circumstances, is to only pay half the money up front, after reviewing the material if there is no proof of SETA acceptance of the material, and the other half on receipt of the materials.  From my side as a developer, I request 50% up front whereupon I dispatch the materials to the provider.  When the provider pays the second 50%, I forward the necessary letter of authorisation/purchase which the provider is required to attach to the accreditation application form.

Fortunately the TETA ETQA practitioners are familiar with my material, and they insist on this letter of authorisation/purchase, so I get regular requests where providers have tried to copy material but they have no letter.

Thanks Nigel that is very interesting - and nice to get a positive comment on TETA  for a change.

Caveat Emptor - Buyer beware. If you purchase something without doing your homework you have only yourself to blame if you get ripped off.

The following should protect you from the fly by nights:

  1. Check the materials first before you purchase it. You will probably need to visit the provider to check the materials, because few will make it available without you paying first. I would be suspicious about materials that are made available without any protection of the intellectual property rights. Providers do this because they don’t respect their materials and don’t really care if it is stolen, possibly because they stole it in the first place.

  2. Check the bona fides of the provider. Make sure that they have researchers who know how to develop learning materials. Check their qualifications, if they actually know what a curriculum is, if they know how to do academic research, how to align materials to a standard, etc. Just being told how honest, clever and professional they are, is not enough.

  3. Ask them for a copy of their development model. A professional development model will immediately show you if the materials will address all the elements of the standard (learning outcomes or objectives, assessment criteria, knowledge requirements, etc.).

  4. Ask them for references and do contact the references. Ask other learning providers who are said to have purchased from the development provider if they were satisfied with the materials.

  5. Ask the relevant quality assurance body. Quality assurance bodies will probably not recommend a specific developer, but they will tell you if they don’t know the developer or know them but have had problems with the quality of their materials in the past.

  6. Check the services that the developer offers. Learning materials need to be updated regularly. Developers who offer to do so at no additional cost or at a reasonable fee understand this. Beware if they adopt a fire and forget attitude.


In closing, being ripped off with substandard learning materials is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other ways in which people corrupt, misuse, mislead and steal, therefore be careful.

Hi Hannes,

Thank you for your reply on my post.  I was quite surprised when it suddenly got life again.

All your points are quite valid, but I'd be very careful when it comes to asking the Quality Assuring Body.

A few years back, a client of ours caught wind of evaluators "pairing" up with developers.  They would attend a site visit and if it was not their "partner's" learning material, they would refuse to accredit the provider.  They would supply the provider with a telephone number & simply say "phone this person, buy the material & I'll approve it".  The evaluator would then get commission on the sales brought in. 

Luckily this client was one to be reckoned with & she contacted the relevant SETA immediately and reported it.  It was put to a stop in that case.

It is a similar racket to whats happening in our Department of Transport when it comes to getting your license. 

This is a very complicated issue.  More so than people realise.

I feel that a controlling body should be put in place for developers; both to assist us in protecting our intellectual property and also to keep the dishonest people out. 

Pamela, Unfortunately I need to prepare my replies over weekends if it takes up too much time. This one is important. We had a similar experience with a SETA/ETQA some years ago. We don't develop materials for providers accredited with that SETA any longer. You see, we can afford to do so because we make our materials available to emerging providers at the lowest price possible. Our business is the development of the community, not developing training materials. Therefore, we do out best to improve the quality of learning provided. Often providers with no capacity are given the training contracts. The best we can do is to help them offer something of substance rather than to try and fight them.




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