Adobe Creative Cloud subscription warning!

by Suw on February 20, 2014

If, like me, you’ve signed up for one of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscriptions under the assumption that because you paid monthly, after the first year the contract was also monthly, I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. Your subscription is yearly and if you cancel at any point, you will pay a penalty fee 50% of the monthly fees still outstanding.

I signed up for a subscription to InDesign on 30 July 2012, and thought that the contract was a year long, with monthly payments and after the first year a monthly rolling contract. That was not the case: When it automatically renewed in July 2013, it signed me up for a new one year contract, with penalty fees for early cancellation. So even though I paid monthly, the contract was annual.

That’s not a subscription or a membership – they use both terms to describe it – in my opinion. That’s a yearly renewable contract, and it should be described as thus, and the penalty fees much more clearly and prominently described. There are no mentions of the penalty fees on their membership plans page at all, and there’s no mention of penalty fees in their yearly renewal email either.

The first I heard of these penalties was when I tried to cancel my account this morning, and was forced to talk to a “customer service” agent via chat – there is no other way to cancel your account. This is the relevant bit of the conversation:

AdobeJust to confirm, you would like to  to cancel Creative Cloud single-app membership for InDesign (one-year) purchased on 30-Jul-2012 with order #: [redacted]

Suw Charman-Anderson: yes please

AdobeThank you for confirming.

AdobeSuw, If I offer you the next month free subscription, would you be willing to continue the subscription and to avoid the cancellation fees?

Suw Charman-Anderson: no, because I have no use for this software for the foreseeable future.

AdobeThe annual plan you enrolled in offers lower monthly payments and requires a one-year commitment. This plan is ideal for someone with an ongoing need to use Adobe’s Creative software.

AdobeIf you decide to end your subscription before the one-year period is over, you no longer qualify for one-year subscription pricing.

Suw Charman-Anderson: i don’t have any need for your software.

Adobe: You will be billed at 50% of your monthly rate for the remaining months in your annual contract. Hence, you will be charged Subtotal:35.75, Tax:8.22,  Grand Total:43.97 .

At this point, I got very cross, although politely so. I had no clear warning that there were penalties in the renewal email or when I signed up, though I am now sure that it was buried somewhere in the bottom of the Ts&Cs. These kinds of sharp practices are relatively rare in the UK and Europe now, thanks to strong consumer protection laws, so I’m not used to having to look out for them.

But Adobe is quite happy to sting you with unethical small print, although I can’t understand why they would do so. Why make it difficult for you to cancel, and then rub salt in to the wound by slapping penalties on top of inconvenience?

If I could have subscribed and unsubscribed easily, as and when I needed the software, then I would have done that, probably indefinitely. As it is, instead of having a loyal customer who’ll give them money relatively regularly for the rest of her working life, they now have someone who feels ripped off and determined to never give them another penny, and make sure other people know the risks of a Creative Cloud membership.

Instead of creating an evangelist for their products, they’ve alienated a previously loyal customer. I will be searching for alternatives to InDesign, and will give another company my money. I’m not averse to paying for good software, but I’ve never been able to afford Adobe software. I thought the Creative Cloud was a way to be able to access really awesome software at an affordable rate, but no, it’s just another way for Adobe to treat its customers like shit. Well done Adobe.

If you’d like to help me recoup the money I’ve lost to Adobe, please buy one of my books from the sidebar! Ten copies of A Passion for Science and I’ll break even on my penalty fee!

UPDATE: It seems that if you scream loudly enough on social media, Adobe will refund the penalty fee. I have told them, though, that they need to be much clearer in their communications about penalty fees, though I bet they don’t change a thing. Instead, if this happens to you, make sure you take to Twitter and kick up a fuss.

Doug February 21, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Yep, that’s why I decided to purchase CS6 when cloud came out. I want to pay for my software once and own it. I can use inDesign 6 for years without needing to update.

Piotr February 24, 2014 at 9:54 am

That kind of treating customers is outrageous.
I was ready to upgrade my CS6 when time comes but when I found out that Adobe goes CC
i decided to not sign in. For everyone who is unhappy with CC I recommend to sign up this petition:

John March 12, 2014 at 3:47 am

Tried the “Cloud” for a year and went back to CS6. CC was not worth the money and the aggravation in my view. I have lost all respect for Adobe due to their forced continual payment system.

Suw March 12, 2014 at 10:39 am

It really is dreadful behaviour from Adobe. It’s just treating users as cash-producing cattle, and not thinking about how their tools are used and who is using them. The next time I need something like InDesign I’ll be looking for a cheaper or free alternative, because I don’t want to give Adobe my money after this.

kotkoda April 2, 2014 at 4:02 pm

This happened to me recently. I am one month late of telling them that I want to cancel the membership. BTW, my membership fees also went up $10. Anyway, thank you for the advice!

outlandmoro May 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

Thanks man! I had the student version, and did not know anything about cancellation fees. I ended up contacting adobe live chat, and the support guy said i still have to pay 50% (about $130) for cancelling my subscription. I put both my feet down on the ground and stood like a viking, until the support guy kinda gave up and said he will check what he can do. And 2 minutes later he ends my subscription and no fees! Good support guy.

Suw May 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

outlandmoro, very glad to hear this post was useful, and that you stood your ground successfully!! Good stuff!

Suw May 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

kotkoda, give them a hard time and see if you can’t get that penalty fee refunded!

outlandmoro May 7, 2014 at 10:43 am

SUW, pardon my mistake, i just googled your name.. i didnt know, well thank you generous lady! I guess that is a bit more appropriate :p

Suw May 7, 2014 at 10:56 am

Outlandmoro, don’t worry! No offence taken at all! I’m just glad that my post was helpful for you.

Ruth July 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

You hit the point in your article!
One one side, Adobes policy is understandable for planning and controlling business plans, yes….But nevertheless it is amazing that Adobe offends customers by hidden workaround terminating strategies and very unfavorable terminating terms – because there ARE alternatives, and in the circles of Adobe customers word-of-mouth advertising is most important. In the history of innovative companies, arrogance towards customers was always the beginning of a fall.

Scott Arundale August 26, 2014 at 11:57 pm

Went through the same script with their phone operator. Eventually they waived the cancellation fee. Tried to do this online with the Adobe site but found myself in an endless loop. Very disingenuous on the part of Adobe. I would be very careful signing up for their products in the future as they want to lock you in for a very long time with their subscription service and make it damn near impossible to get out and even the phone call took a half hour!

Carol September 5, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Great tips, same thing happened to me and it wasn’t until I got ugly that all termination fees were waived. Very sneaky and frustrating!

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