From Media Access To Average User - How My Opinion of Adobe Has Changed

From Media Access To Average User - How My Opinion of Adobe Has Changed

Being a member of the media has a set number of luxuries. One of those being, working with Adobe and getting early access of products, and exclusive news. Thanks to Adobe, I used Creative Cloud for an entire year free by attending a media exclusive Adobe event back in the summer of 2013. However, since I've started paying for it a month ago, my frustrations have hit an all time high.

As you may remember, I put together a long piece following the announcement of Creative Cloud being pirated about how we shouldn't be pirating software that we rely so heavily on to help create our business and our art. I stand by my statement, and have no plans on pirating Adobe Photoshop CC. However, at this point, I don't know what I should do, as Adobe has taken my credit card information and hasn't made much of an effort to allow me to access the software.

The Events of June 24th/25th

On June 24th, my free one year of Creative Cloud had expired. This was fine, and at that point I was happy to pay the monthly subscription for software I rely so heavily on. 95% of my work is done on Lightroom and Photoshop, so I decided to take advantage of their $10/mo Photography Suite, as it is affordable and gives me access to just about everything I need within my workflow. I casually went to their website, clicked the “Renew Subscription” and found that I was charged $630.62 for an entire year of the Creative Cloud Suite. I wrote this off as my own mistake, and decided to casually submit a ticket to have my account refunded the $630 so that I could pay for the Photographers Suite instead.

Much to my surprise, the only way to truly get in touch with Adobe's customer support is through a chain of 140 character twitter messages with @AdobeCare. Reluctantly, I complied, and eventually was issued a refund - Something that would take 5-8 days to complete (It ended up taking 6 days) according to the Customer Service Rep I spoke with.


Money Spent - $630.62 | Software Access - 0%

From the moment I was told I'd receive a refund in 5-8 days, my account was inactive again and I was unable to use Photoshop or Lightroom. I asked them about this, and they told me I needed to just go ahead and purchase the photography plan and I'd be given access to my software. Since I was backlogged on work as is, I complied, and purchased a year of the Photography Suite for $9.99/mo, at a total of $126.02 (Taxes being the reason it's not a straight $119.88). This still didn’t give me access to the software for an entire 24 hours - which meant I had to expel my frustrations on social media.

Money Spent - $756.64 | Software Access - 0%

In the weeks following, I was refunded the $630.62 and given access to the software that I had purchased under the Photography Suite. However, there was one underlying problem - I was getting notifications each time I opened Photoshop or Lightroom that my subscription was about to expire, with a bright red lingering number counting down the daysof access to the work that needs to be done. However, naively as it may be, I assumed this was a glitch in the system, and figured Adobe would have it resolved before the looming countdown finished. What a foolish way of thinking that was.

The Lockout of July 16th

Eventually, on July 16th, the arbitrary countdown reached it zero mark, and I was locked out of the software I had paid for. Unfortunately, my deadlines for my photography work to be done no longer applied under Adobe's standards, and I was left out in the cold. Through typical practice, Adobe provided me with nothing but a Twitter handle - no phone number or email to get in touch with. So I tweeted, and I sat, and I waited. In previous attempts to contact Adobe through Twitter, I had tried being polite, and I had tried being angry, so my new approach was passive-aggressive.

Money Spent - $126.02 | Software Access - 0%


Eventually, Britt from @AdobeCare (who despite working for the company providing me with so much frustration, was very polite and helpful) was able to get this issue resolved, and I was given access to my software and services purchased. However, that didn't make the headaches disappear, and the access was only temporary.

Money Spent - $126.02 | Software Access - 100%


The Plague of This Morning

I'm saddened to report that this morning, my plague of Adobe came back. Upon opening Photoshop to catch up on retouching this morning, I was hit with another "00 Days Remaining" dialog, not giving me access to the software I own. At this point, I'm not sure how to approach it, as I've contacted @AdobeCare under 4 different occasions without much help other than a temporary fix to a long lingering problem.

Now I understand that I'm among the media, so following this post, Adobe will contact me and have this all resolved before dinner time. However, many other photographers would not have that luxury. So I'm here to apologize. I've ignored your problems and insight on Adobe's move to Creative Cloud, and was living blissfully under the sun of being among Adobe's media contacts, with plenty of people to contact if I had any problems. While I still don't condone the pirating of this software, as Adobe is a team of creatives all working to help create better products for us to use. However, today - for me - they've fallen short.

And Adobe, if you're listening, there has to be a better way. Don't get me wrong, I love the quick turnaround and updates of the Creative Cloud system, adding new features each month. But Twitter is your source for customer service? That won't work for most people, and will just feed the fuel of frustration. There has to be an easier system for you to connect with your customer base, especially following a complete redesign of business operations. I'll remain loyal, but I understand why others aren't at this point.

Money Spent - $126.02 | Software Access - 0%

Update - Money Spent - $126.02 | Software Access - 100%

As expected, Adobe has since contacted me personally and has helped me through the issues I was having to help me get my software up and running again. However, this doesn't change the fact that I've reached out multiple times prior to now about the issue without any resolve. However, I did want to quote the email sent to me, so that others can resolve their issues that might be having as well.

It appears that your computer still had information on it that you should have had a Creative Cloud subscription (which you’d been using for a year) and even though you had signed up for a new subscription, the computer was still looking for the old one. This is generally fixed by signing out and back into the Creative Cloud desktop app. How to do that is described here: If that does not resolve the issue, you can manually clear out these settings by following the steps in Solution 2 of this document: I haven’t yet checked to see what steps you’ve already taken to attempt to resolve this issue. If you like, I could call you to work through this directly. Simply provide the best phone number and time (including time zone to avoid confusion) to call. 
  Second, I’d like to talk about available support channels. While Twitter is one way we communicate with customers, it is certainly not the only method. Here is a list of support channels, from least to most direct: 
  The methods of contact are described here: 
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Sounds like they have you set up somehow on monthly even though you paid for the year. Maybe? That's my best educated guess knowing how billing departments work. Does their customer service number not work or is it a phone maze to nowhere?

It's a little dirty, but I'd dispute the charge with my bank if I couldn't get anywhere. That will get their attention because it will cost them a lot more than $126 to take care of charge disputes. You paid for something that you didn't get so it's justified. They probably won't like that much though.

Zach Sutton's picture

Well at this point, this seemed to be the best method. I figured by making it publicly known, Adobe will possibly address the problems faster.

And certainly, I know I'm not alone in this frustration...which is exactly why I decided my story needed to be told.

Michael Comeau's picture

As someone coming from Aperture, I'm even more skeptical about the subscription process.

Matthew Taggart's picture

As a video guy who relies heavily on adobe for video and stills I know exactly what you are going through. I often wonder if people who shot on film had the same amount of headaches, just not with software. For some reason, whenever something breaks down that's mechanical I don't get as mad. For example when my film camera's shutter was broken and it ruined a roll of film, I could see that there was a problem and I knew how to fix it. But all this stuff with the cloud, and memberships and computers in general makes me so angry because it's not as easy for me to identify WHAT the problem is. Anyone who worked before computers were a huge part of the workflow? I'd love to hear what the Adobe/computer headaches of your time were called. And if you would trade your workflow now with how things were done in the past.

Back in 2000-2004 when I was in college, the computers couldn't handle the file sizes (photoshop was more a medium than a primary retouching tool so you'd have poster size files with 50+ layers running on 500mb of RAM on the unstable Mac OS, fun times). Computer crashes. Every single day. Hours of work lost.

Also during that time, pirating software was really easy and becoming really common. All you had to do was type in a legit serial number or sometimes change the date to the previous year. But when Adobe caught on, they'd invalidate the serial number entirely and you had to be emailed a new one if yours was used to pirate software, no warning at all. This was a major headache for college students who used the campus networks because those were the most commonly stolen serials. Students often didn't have the information to verify identity since their parents paid for the software so eventually Adobe heard "on campus housing" and would give you a new serial over the phone, which defeated the purpose lol.

Matthew Taggart's picture

Well yes, I remember those days as well. . . And I understood those crashes, you were asking a lot of your computer. But there are days now where I'm not asking much and it really feels to me like my computer is a self aware object and just doesn't feel like working.

What you are describing is called the "perception of power". It doesn't matter what reality is, if everything was in your hands, you think you have some control over it. When things rely on an outside source to work, you feel you don't have control over anything. The feeling of not having control is enough to create real stress.

This is also why low level employees have more job stress than upper level executives despite executives having more responsibility. Low level employees perceive they have little to no control over their daily lives.

Matthew Taggart's picture

And I spoke too soon. Now I'm having a tough time getting any answers...

Andrew Yianne's picture

Ridiculous. What kind of mega corporation such as Adobe relies on Twitter for customer support?!

As I said in another comment, they used to rely on their forums (in other words, their other customers) for tech support.

Andrew Yianne's picture

True but other customers can't reset an account purchase and give a refund. That's up to Adobe. There needs to be another way to deal with that kind of support other than Twitter.

Jason Ranalli's picture's insanity and a HUGE disservice to paying customers IMO.

Sven Uckermann's picture

The only good thing with the cloud and the timer is that sometimes when your computer clock gets messed up you can get also -30000 days to go and such a stuff ... the problem is that I can't trigger the timer to reset, so this is a pain while traveling .. one day you have a fancy hotel with wlan .. and then when you hit the backcountry suddendly the timer starts ... so you have to mess with you computer just to get enough time out of the countdown till you get internet again ...

Douglas Sonders's picture

lets light the torches

seriously... :/

Spy Black's picture

Perhaps a movement should be started by all Adobe users to make it clear to Adobe that they want the option to purchase the software outright. Perhaps flooding their Twitter "customer service" account may be a good start. Just hammer the crap out of it with the request. If everyone starts to flood them with the request, who knows? It may very well happen.

This was the number one problem I could foresee with CC. When your company provides a service rather than a product, customer service is an entirely different beast. And let's face it customer service has never been Adobe's strong suit. I mean in the old days, you had to post to the forum for tech support, essentially leaving most of the support jobs to their other customers.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Woah hold up here. The only way to get in touch with their customer support if via f'ing Twitter??!!! Is that a joke??

I couldn't imagine doing serious business with ANY company that used Twitter for their support but I guess now I am since I've been using my perpetually licensed PS for several years now. Fortunately I have never had to call them for support.

As someone who has worked tooth and nail through IT and even support I can't imagine how anyone at Adobe though Twitter was an appropriate medium for support.

Zach Sutton's picture

I'm told they also have a chat, but like all chats, it's faced with problems of connectivity.

But from what I have seen, Twitter is their preferred method of support.

Lee Morris's picture

I don't even have twitter! luckily CC has worked great for me.

Matthew Taggart's picture

I have used the chat for help, and at least from what I've experienced, it's worked pretty good. Not saying everyone has had good luck with it, but for all the trouble adobe has put me through, surprisingly the chat wasn't one of the issues.

The chat works, but the people are not so experienced. After installing the new update, Photoshop started creating random glitches/lines to my files, practically destroying them. When I first contacted them through chat, the person working there gave me false info that my graphic card is not supported (which I checked by myself in the documentation and it was supported) and rudely closed the chat session.
Then after 5 new chat sessions (each one taking 2 hours) and a false promise that a senior support manager will contact me and resolve the issue, I had to format my computer.
The problem was then solved. but the damaged files couldn't be recovered.

Sven Uckermann's picture

Yeah after the last Lightroom "UPDATE" it keeps crashing if I rate my pictures to quick .. sBut I see it now as an "upgrade" of my workflow .. now I have to look at least for 2 seconds on every picture .. even the blurry flash not firing stuff. I5t is an GREAT learning experience ... And also Steam + adobe cloud = no working games for some steam games because adobe cc makes some strange stuff with your pc ... love modern anti piracy stuff ...

Tony Roslund's picture

Zach, that's unfortunate. I had a problem with CC last week and was able to call the help line and speak to a live person within a couple of rings. He was very polite and took over my computer remotely to fix the issue. Pretty impressed actually. I was expecting something more along the lines of what you encountered.

Peter Nord's picture

Suppose you had to change your internet ISP, requiring the email address associated with your Adobe ID to change. I spent a long time with Adobe support on-line help, but never could get them to change to my other email address. My credit card statement had an 800 number by the entry for the charge by Adobe. I called that number and the woman knew exactly how to fix it. Check your statement. Maybe you have an Adobe phone number there that will be answered by someone who knows how to solve problems.

I downloaded the software crack for this very reason. A kind of 'in case of emergency, break the glass' solution.

Now, I am a very strong believer that you should pay for software and I hope to never install it. BUT if Adobe locks me out of what I am paying for... resulting in that I can't work... Well...

Leif Sikorski's picture

I totally agree.
Using such a way is nothing to be proud of, but if this would happen to me and I couldn't access the software I pay for I would "fix" it myself instead of spending hours with a support that has no serious way to contact them. Twitter is one of the worst ways to deliver support - it's just a horrible experience with its 140 character limit.

Henry Louey's picture

Zach, I can't comment on your personal experience but my opinions on Adobe have changed as well but in a good way.

Australians will be aware that pre Adobe CC the retail pricing on the Adobe Suite was more than double that of what you could buy the same suite for in the U.S. Geo restrictions meant that you couldn't just buy from the U.S Store Either.

Thankfully the Cloud pricing for suite like PS/LR are more on parity and in fact us Aussies are paying a cheaper price than for members in the states.

Having said that my year is coming up with Adobe. I dread what will happen on renewal :P

Ralph Berrett's picture

Creative Cloud should be called Cloud licensing. To be blunt that is only part that is on the cloud. Adobe has always had issues with their licensing software. Their customer service has always been bad with these issues. I heard a lot of complaint along these lines. One suggestion is to check how much space you have on your Hard Drive. You need about 10-15% or their licensing software tends to get errors.As far as customer service last I heard they are rated below Apple and Microsoft in satisfaction.

Christopher Hoffmann's picture

Makes me glad that I never signed up for CC. No issues and I own my LR & PS.