My epic ACSM Pearson VUE ordeal...
Well Im not sure where the proper place to post this is, but it needs to be heard so hopefully noone else will have to go through what I've been through over the last few days. First a little background info on myself and my reason to persue an ACSM CPT certification.
Ive worked full time as a Paramedic for 10 years. My profession is very physical in nature, a lot of lifting and moving patients, hauling heavy equipment around, contorting myself into odd positions to get people out of tight spaces, you name it. So being fit is important and I devote a lot of time each week to staying fit, strong and flexible.
So when my wife and I had our first child in November of 2011 we made the decision to let my wife, a first grade teacher, be a stay at home mom for a few years to save the cost and inconvenience of having to use a child care. The downside of that is dropping down to one salary. So after doing some research I decided to become a personal trainer to supplement our income. I researched on the web and decided on ACSM due to their reputation as being the cream of the crop and the most medically oriented of all the certifications out there. I ordered my books and gave myself 6 months to prepare, which turned out to be way more than I needed. I studied pretty hard the first and last month, but didnt study much inbetween. I already had a strong base knowledge in anatomy, physiology and cardiology but a lot of the exercise Rx, behavioral change and program design stuff was new to me.
I didn't attend any of the workshops. I did purchase a few of the webinars but they werent really any more informative than just reading the text book and doing the quizzes in the cert review. I also purchased the exam prep from this website, which did prove to be helpful on the exam. Anyway, on to the good part of the story...
Like I said, I booked and paid for my exam 6 months in advance. The night before the exam I printed off my confirmation email just in case I might need it since I had booked it so far in advance. I drove 50 miles to the testing site and got there about 45 minutes early, the place was locked up and dark inside so I found a place to sit down a chill for a while. When nobody showed up by 10:45, the time Im REQUIRED to be there, I started to worry. The first thing I did was call the testing site just to make sure there was nobody in there. No answer. So then I call Pearson VUE and listen to bad music for about 10 minutes. I hung up and called back again. 5 more minutes of bad music before a human being finally came on the line, a lady who's primary language is definitely not english. I tell her whats going on and at first she doesnt believe me. We go through atleast 10 minutes of painfully repetitive questions, what address did you go to, what time did you get there, what suite number are you at, etc. She tried with everything in her power to discover an error made on my behalf as the reason this has happened. She is not successful. There is no way around it. I am where I am supposed to be on the right day at the right time and there is nobody here. Then she says she is going to investigate the matter and puts me on hold for 22 minutes. When she comes back on the line, she still has no explanation for why nobody has shown up to the testing center. All she can say is "I don't know why nobody is there, would you like to reschedule?" I almost blew my top right there. I told her she was going to reschedule me AND refund my money because the deal is, If I don't show up for an appointment, heck if Im even 15 minutes late, I have to forfeit my exam fee and pay again if I want to take the exam. So I told her it should work the same way if THEIR the ones that don't show up. She rescheduled me for the same place at the same time 3 days later and said she would file an incident report with my request for a refund and said somebody would be contacting me within 3 business days with an answer for me.
So I left and went home. Thats 100 miles roundtrip with nothing to show for it. Pearson VUE called me two days later. Their explanation was that the testing site changed their business hours and did not inform them of it, so they passed the buck and denied my request for a refund. He said unfortunately Pearson VUE does not provide any financial compensation for matters such as this. My reply to him was I guarantee you if I had been the one not to show up, I would be financially compensating Pearson VUE to come back and take the test so why doesnt it work the other way around. All he could do was back pedal and continued to blame it on the testing site. However, he did apologize for the inconvenience and guanranteed me that someone would be there when I went back on saturday. I said ok whatever, I just want to get this test passed and over with.
So Saturday comes, I drive another 50 miles and again I get there about 45 minutes early. There are several people standing around outside the building this time, a good sign. As I get closer to them, I see that most of them are on their cell phones, some of them are cupping their hands around their eyes to peer into the glass door of the building...that is locked up and dark inside. These people have been here for over an hour, their tests were supposed to be at 10 am, and it is now 10:15 and wait for it....nobody is here.
So I filled everybody in on what had happened to me just 3 days ago, which does not prove to be encouraging news. More people are showing up for 11:00 exams and are pitifully walking up and tugging on the locked door followed by looking at their watch. Most of the 10 am testers left by 11, who could blame them. I tried to call Pearson VUE again, and boy was I going to let thim have it this time. Screw me once shame on you, screw me twice shame on me....but they're closed on saturdays...go figure. I struck up a convo with a guy who was there to take an exam for his software company, also a Pearson VUE tester, which killed about 10 minutes. We both made the decision to stick around until 1130 even though I knew deep down that nobody was going to show. At 11:32, a full 45 minutes after MY REQUIRED time to be there to sign in, some sleepy looking dude comes shuffling up the sidewalk, I figured he was another doomed exam taker, until he put a key in the door and opened it. His excuse? He didnt know there were any appointments today until he got an email from his boss at 1030 this morning telling him he needed to get to the office.
I am not sure who is at fault, Pearson VUE or the testing site, but either way, somebody laid an egg here and somebody should have to pay. There was one girl who was supposed to take a 10 am exam to qualify for a new job, and because nobody showed up for her appointment and she couldnt take the exam, now she has to wait 6 months to apply for the job again.
By the way, I passed the exam with a score of 687. I wont lie, it was tough, but doable. I apologize for the long post, I needed to get this out. I guess the moral of the story is MAKE SURE YOU CONTACT YOUR TESTING SITE AHEAD OF TIME TO MAKE SURE SOMEBODY IS GOING TO BE THERE TO GIVE YOU THE EXAM. Don't assume anything.