This typically happens when the listener that you try to contact (defined by the server and port in your TNSNAMES.ORA file for that TNS alias) is not listening for the database you defined for that TNS alias. Either that, or the listener is not listening for the correct ORACLE_HOME. Make sure that your TNSNAMES.ORA and LISTENER.ORA files are correct on your workstation and server respectively.
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This was first published in August 2002