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Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center?

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Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 10 May 2012, 22:41
Hi all,

I took the GMAT yesterday in Vietnam and got an unexpected low score (lower than my diagnostic test when I had no knowledge of GMAT) and there were a few things happened that I'm not quite sure I have a case here. So if anyone has experience about this please let me know how to do this, where to send email to, and how long does it take for them to reply.

Below is the email I wrote to GMATCandidateServicesAPAC@pearson.com. They didn't reply yet, so I'm not sure whether this is the right address to share the experience. Please advise if you can.

Code:
Dear Sir / Madam,

My name is XXX, candidate ID XXX. Today I just took the GMAT exam and I'm writing to share my GMAT experience with you. This is the second time I took the GMAT. Last time I took it in August 2010 in California and the experience was above expectation.

First of all, I want to assure that this is not a blame for my low GMAT score. I took the test as everyone else did, and got an unexpected score, but this is not the reason I write this email, because I think there are other variables that come into play. I write this email with the hope to improve the testing condition of future test takers who will do the test at the only Pearson authorized center in Ho Chi Minh City.

My test was schedule at 8AM. I came at 7.30, was checked in at 7.45 and all was good. The check-in process was very straight-forward and properly done although the palm scanner sometimes could not read our palm. The delivery manager was extremely nice and helpful. She provided us all the help we need in a timely manner. She monitored on her screen outside the test room and knew exactly what we needed before we asked for it. A++ for this department.

Then it came the nightmare, not just for me, but for all of us - the 3 test takers. After the AWA session, and around 45 minutes after the Quant session, the power was suddenly cut off. All the electrical devices were off. Our PCs that are used for testing were still on because they have UPS power supply. The whole room was confused and the delivery manager asked 2 of the other test takers to stop the test and leave the room. I didn't notice because I thought the test can not be resumed and and continued to do the math in the dark, using the light from the monitor (luckily the background of the question is white, so it provided me readable light to do the calculations). Unfortunately for us, the UPS power supply on lasted for about 10 minutes before the test console froze there was nothing we could do but to stop the test in the middle.

The delivery manager said that there was a fire around the corner so they had to cut the power off, and that the waiting time was around 1 hour. 1 hour for you to wait to resume the unfinished test! People left the room, chatting, getting to know each other! Around 45 minutes later, the power got back on and we were able to continue our test. I wondered myself if this is really happening! I was able to finish the Quant session on time, but was not sure how the software calculated the remaining time though.

The hassle did not end here. In the Verbal session, I could hear every hammer smash banging on the wall in the testing room from outside. There must have been some sort of construction going on out there, and although we were all given the headset for noise reduction, it was very hard to focus on the test in such a noisy condition. I finished the test on time, and I could not believe in my eye the score on the screen, as it was even lower compared to the first time I took the diagnostic test, without any knowledge about the GMAT.

I have a few concerns:

- Since it is an authorized test center of Pearson VUE, there must be a power generator. In any case, the test takers should not be bothered with any technical issue during the test. The test should work like normal without any interruption.

- Security concern: I was amazed when I see that the test console is just a file on the computer desktop (running Windows XP). There are network accesses to the server, and one could just copy the .exe file and the network content for the real test. Although logging in is required, decoding the whole thing is not impossible.

- Noise problem: The testing room should be as quiet as possible, if not absolute. The wall and door should be noise-cancellation. The noise from people walking in and out, chatting with each other outside, walking up and down the stairs, or even drinking water from the fountain... should not be heard from inside the testing room. This is not to mention the noise of the construction. If there is a construction going on, the test center should not allow people to schedule their test.

- When I resumed the test from the power cut off, I was not sure whether all the answers I ticked before that period were saved. But I hope the testing software was written well enough to handle this case.

I was careful enough to come to the test center and checked out the testing room 1 day before the test day. But there are others things mentioned above that come into play on the test day. My test day was delay 1 time last month due to power issue. Clearly, this is not up to bar with what I experienced before in California. Pearson should look very carefully into authorization process for any test center. What is done is done, but with all respects I experienced from the first time, I have to say this is probably the worst testing experience I've ever had in my life. Not on bar with TOEFL, IELTS, CFA, or other standardized tests I know.

9 hours after the test, I still can not believe this is how GMAT is administrated in Vietnam.

Best regards,

XXX


Thanks a lot

- C
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 07:47
This stuff happens all the time. You should request an official report of what happened from the test center that administered the test. Although your score will stand, they may offer you a retake at no extra charge.

Sorry to hear about your troubles! It's surprising how often I hear these stories. It's just unlucky. :(
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 07:50
GMATLA wrote:
This stuff happens all the time. You should request an official report of what happened from the test center that administered the test. Although your score will stand, they may offer you a retake at no extra charge.

Sorry to hear about your troubles! It's surprising how often I hear these stories. It's just unlucky. :(


Thanks for the reply. Do you know how to request an official report?
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 07:59
Well the best time to ask for this report is when you are leaving the test center. But my advice is call the test center. Remind them about what happened yesterday and just let them know that you think it really messed with your score. Although you understand these things happen, you'd like a written explanation from them of what happened b/c you are going to make a case to recieve a free retake.

At this point, you will not get the score removed from your report. But the best you can do is get a free retake. So go for that. If you are kind and reasonable, they will more inclined to help.

Let us know how it turns out!
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 11 May 2012, 18:48
GMATLA wrote:
Well the best time to ask for this report is when you are leaving the test center. But my advice is call the test center. Remind them about what happened yesterday and just let them know that you think it really messed with your score. Although you understand these things happen, you'd like a written explanation from them of what happened b/c you are going to make a case to recieve a free retake.

At this point, you will not get the score removed from your report. But the best you can do is get a free retake. So go for that. If you are kind and reasonable, they will more inclined to help.

Let us know how it turns out!


Thanks! I just get off the phone with the test center and they said they already sent the report of what happened on the test day to Pearson. All I need to do is to email Pearson at the email address above and wait for the response, which I did.

I also asked whether they have similar cases in the past at the test center and the admin said there were some cases, in which test takers were allowed to retake the test for free, but it depends greatly on the situation.

So I just cross my fingers and see what happens.. Will update you the progress.

Thanks again.
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 00:53
After more than one month of processing (Pearson Asia had to escalate my issue to the program coordinator in the US), today I got the official response, together with my AWA score (yes, it took them 1 month to grade it, unlike typical procedure which usually takes them 10 days). I just get off the phone with a Pearson customer representative.

I got 6 on AWA, and my request to have a free retake has been approved. The representative was very nice and apologized me for what happened. However they are unable to add a note in my GMAT profile to say what happened. The representative said when the schools ask about it, just give them the incident report number and when they contact Pearson, Pearson will provide all the details. I wasn't sure what day I should retake the exam again, so he said whenever I'm ready, just call customer service and provide the incident report number for them to schedule. There is already a note on that incident saying that I'm entitled for a free retake, at no cost.

So, remember to ask for your incident report number from the testing center if you think you have a case. That incident report number is crucial, so be sure to store it safely. Basically this is your right, so if you don't do it, nobody will do it for you. And test centers are not very willing to remind you this, soemthing indicating that they did not provide a quality service. I didn't know the existence of the incident report number until the customer service asked me what mine is. Then I had to call the test center, asked for that number, and called Pearson back.

The representative also said actions have been taken on the test center side, but he cannot disclose what exactly those actions are. He also assured me that similar problems won't happen next time I take the test there, if I choose to.

Hope this helps people in similar situation.. I guess GMAT still likes me...
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 13:21
I'm very happy that you were able to get your free test out of it! This was the best you could hope for. Best of luck, and I hope you knock it out of the park this time. Plus, with a free test, you're playing with house money so hopefully that takes some pressure off...
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 19 Jun 2012, 11:08
GMATLA wrote:
I'm very happy that you were able to get your free test out of it! This was the best you could hope for. Best of luck, and I hope you knock it out of the park this time. Plus, with a free test, you're playing with house money so hopefully that takes some pressure off...


Thanks and appreciate... I'm going back to GMAT cave now :)) Will update score later.
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 03 Jul 2012, 22:48
If it makes you feel better, you're not alone in this. I read a similiar story a few days ago from someone in Pakistan where outtages are the norm.

Anyway, best wishes on your retake!!
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Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center? [#permalink] New post 11 Jul 2012, 06:51
I'm very sorry to hear what you experienced on your test day. Although its good to see that you get to retake the test. I faced a similar situation when I gave my exam to (See the thread "Horrendous GMAT Experience!", Sorry i cant post links yet)....I emailed GMAC a week ago at the above address that you used. But I still haven't received any reply. How long did it take for you to get a reply? What other steps did you take to sort out your predicament?
Re: Do I have a valid case to complain about the test center?   [#permalink] 11 Jul 2012, 06:51
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