Why I hate Prometric for Microsoft Certification Exams

Why doesn’t Prometric recruit another location in New Jersey (specifically Mount Laurel) for IT professionals to take Microsoft and other certification exams?

Why doesn’t Prometric fix it’s web site?  It’s 2010, and a company that has a monopoly on Microsoft Certification Exams should have a web site that is more reliable than my personal web site.

Why do I rant about Prometric?  Let me count the ways.  Better yet, I’ll just recount the exam I took yesterday.

First, registering for the exam.  For several days (yes, days…), I tried to connect to the Prometric web site.  It timed out when I tried to find the nearest location to take an exam.  Not once, not twice, but I could not connect for several days.  I tried different browsers (IE, Chrome, Firefox), and different locations (client site with huge bandwidth, my home with Comcast BLAST! broadband).  No joy.

Next, I confirmed that there is only one test location near me.  One.  There used to be three in Mount Laurel, and one in Medford that were within fifteen minutes.  Now there is one.  They have two seats, and Microsoft Exams require you book for three hours, so they can only accommodate four tests per day.  In Mount Laurel we have a HUGE group of engineering, networking, software development, and infrastructure people and companies who employ them.  Northrup Grumman, Lockheed, Computer Associates, Cisco, NetApp, Continental Resources (where I work!), CSC, and others.

One testing location with two seats.  That’s what we have.  Next closest is Philadelphia.  Minimum time to travel is 45 minutes to Philly.  You can take the PATCO high speed line, or drive.  It’s close, but it takes a minimum of 45 minutes each way, and that’s assuming you can find a parking spot or take PATCO and walk.  Garage parking in center city Philadelphia can be $20.  The cheapest lot parking is $9, and it’s at 23rd and Arch Streets, which is 20 blocks from one of the two test centers in Philadelphia.

In my case, the closest available seats were at Delaware County Community College.  It’s a great testing center, but it’s 50 minutes from my house, and the only way to get there is I95 and the Blue Route (or the Delaware County Parking Lot as I like to call it). 

After driving for an hour, and finding the Testing Center, I waited for almost two hours.  Why?  Because the staff had problems logging into the testing computer.  Apparently the account(s) they used were locked out. 

TWO HOURS.  I left the house at 9:05 and arrived at the testing center around 10:10.  I sat down to take the exam just before noon.  The exam took 45 minutes, and I spent 15 minutes doing the Survey to bitch about deficiencies with Prometric.  I then went to my client site to perform billable work.  So, instead of taking an exam locally, with a total elapsed time of 60 minutes, no, let’s assume I stop for coffee, make that 90 minutes, It took me from 9AM until 1PM to take an exam.  FOUR HOURS.  Due to the location, I was still an hour away from my client’s site (Blue Route had a lane closure and Friday afternoon traffic).  My total elapsed time was five hours from my house to my client site. 

OK, Prometric, the ball is in your court.  I left my e-mail and cell phone contact information on your web site, Microsoft eval, and e-mail to your company.  I haven’t heard back yet, and I bet you don’t call.  I’ll call you on Monday to touch base and post a follow-up here.