Ask the Expert: Buying Cert Stuff Safely Online

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Dear Ed:


In working toward my CISSP, I’ve found myself ordering various materials online, including online and computer based training and various practice exams. In one particular case, a vendor charged my credit card immediately, but failed to send the merchandise for an unconscionably long period of time—nearly 6 months. You should know, because it was in part owing to your repeated interventions with that company that I finally received that merchandise.


Now that I’ve been through this mill and have finished my CISSP, I’m thinking about advancing to the CISSP concentration on security management. Do you have any words of advice to keep me from having to chase after stuff I’ve paid for this time?




Carl S.


Red Bank, NJ





Dear Carl:


Ouch! It’s always difficult when somebody takes your money but gives you nothing in return. My advice is to watch your credit card bills carefully, and to ask your credit card company to reject charges from vendors who bill your card but that fail to provide you with the merchandise you’ve paid for by the time your next statement arrives. Fair dealing usually means companies don’t post charges to your card until they ship the merchandise, so even if you must pay your bill within a week to 10 days of its receipt (pretty normal for most card issuers), this gives plenty of time for the goods to arrive.


My thinking (and it’s backed by many reputable software, practice test, and training or cert prep vendors) is that if you don’t have the goods, the vendor shouldn’t have your money, either. Worst case, you’ll end up having to re-order occasionally or post a second charge to your card when the stuff really is “in the mail.” But you’ll protect yourself from having to chase down vendors who take your money before they send you anything. You’ll certainly be able to avoid 6-month bouts of problem resolution!


This should keep you out of trouble for future certification related purchases in particular, but for any online purchases in general, too.




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