Training and Certification

Rubel Khan's Blog

List of FAQs and FLAs about Certificates and Cards answered by Ken Rosen

Posted by Rubel Khan on June 23, 2009

As soon as Microsoft announced about Digital Certificates for Download (Going Green), many of us went furious. We had questions and feedbacks.   

Here is a list of FAQs and FLAs about Certificates and Cards answered by Ken Rosen

“Frequently Asked Questions

Won’t it cost me a fortune to have the certificate mailed to my country? No—our number one requirement from the start was that our certificates—should you still choose to order them—be affordable to ship anywhere in the world. We’ll have our shipping costs published soon, but we don’t anticipate significantly higher shipping costs internationally. (We’re using a different vendor than our MCP estore (which I agree is way too exorbitant on shipping costs… we’re working on that).

We use A4 paper in my country, but your certificates are 8-1/2 x 11. How do I print my certificates correctly? We actually provide A4 versions of the digital certificates now—go check them out!

Why don’t I see my charter certificates? We don’t keep records of charter members—those charter certificates are simply the first x number of certificates that we mailed out to the people who earned those certifications. If you were to re-order one of those certificates today (or last week, or last month), you’d find that you’d get a “standard” certificate rather than a charter one (unless we still happened to have some charter certificates left), and the digital certificates work the same way.

Will you ever issue charter certificates again? Maybe. We decided that on a case-by-case basis. If we do, we’ll also make sure we take into account how digital fulfillment works in those cases.

Why didn’t you make welcome kits opt-in only, so that environmentally concerned customers could decided for themselves? We did—for the last few years! Almost everyone ordered certificates though (myself included), in part because they’re free. I find myself ordering things I probably wouldn’t otherwise when they’re free. With a modest shipping and handling fee, we expect that more folks will opt-out than before.

How is this environmentally friendly if all it means is that the MCP has to do the printing instead of Microsoft? See above—if everyone prints out their certificates, then yeah, there’s a good chance that overall we’re doing more harm than good to the environment. But we don’t believe that will happen. I don’t know what percentage of folks will print their certificates, but I think it will decline steadily over time.

Won’t this lead to fraudulent certificates? Don’t look now, but it’s actually not that hard to find places on the Internet who will send you authentic-looking but counterfeit certificates and wallet cards today. The fact is, you can’t trust a paper certificate, and frankly, I wouldn’t trust a digital one either. The only thing I’d trust is our launching-in-August virtual business cards, which authenticate your credentials against your transcript, making them pretty darn difficult to forge.

Are you going to lower the price for exams since you’re now saving money on the welcome kits? No, we won’t, but: remember that we haven’t raised our prices in eight years. Tell me another vendor whose exams are priced as low as we are and can say that. We could have simply raised our prices a bit, but then everyone would be paying extra, not just the people who want paper certificates. This way seems more equitable to us: if you’re satisfied with digital credentials, your exams cost the same; if you want a paper certificate, you’ll pay a modest shipping and handling fee.

How would you feel if your college or university told you that after four years, you had to pay an extra fee to get your diploma? I’d be pretty ticked off, because I probably just spent up to $200,000 USD and invested 4 full-time years of my life studying. I’d probably also question the rationale, since my college only issues about 400 diplomas a year, and they’re handed out in person rather than packaged in cardboard and shipped on airplanes and trucks around the world. I understand the analogy many of you are trying to draw, but in fairness I don’t think that many of you are spending that kind of money and time earning our certifications. I love that you take such pride in your accomplishments—and I share it as an MCP/MCT many times over since 1993—but with all due respect and IMHO, we’re talking about different levels of investment here.

Frequently Leveled Accusations

Microsoft isn’t concerned about the environment—this is just a cost-cutting measure in disguise. This is what’s known as a false choice: that something must be either one thing or another, and not both. This is absolutely a way for us to save on our costs (without raising our prices)—no doubt about that. But it’s also and primarily a way for us to cut down on our environmental footprint. I realize some of you won’t believe that no matter what we say… so it’s probably not a productive use of any of our time trying to persuade each other. (Ditto for those of you arguing that global warming is a hoax.)

You don’t really care about the environment—or you wouldn’t have done that bus tour! See above, plus: there’s no doubt we’re not 100% green, and we won’t be any time soon either. But we’re making strides where we can. (I wish we could have found an electric bus!) BTW, you can take out the words “the environment” above and substitute “cutting costs” and the argument works just as well.

One final note (for now): I understand why the discussion is focused on certificates now, but the upcoming virtual business cards are going to be pretty sweet. For the first time, we’ll truly have a visual symbol of your credential that really, truly proves your accomplishments. I think you guys will dig it and appreciate the benefits it provides over paper and plastic.”



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