Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Adobe Complaint

Three weeks ago Adobe Systems announced that they were laying off 600 people -- about 8% of their workforce -- because sales of their new CS4 software was not meeting estimates.

I made personal note of these layoffs because I have been trying without success to buy Adobe's software and have found the company to be one the least customer friendly businesses on the planet. Here's a copy of a letter of complaint that I have been holding to send to their CEO on December 24th:

December 24, 2008

Shantanu Narayen, President
Adobe Systems Incorporated
345 Park Avenue
San Jose, CA 95110-2704

Dear Shantanu,

This letter is written to call your attention to policies and procedures that have undermined my confidence in your company and irritated me to the point of exasperation. Frankly, I do not understand why your company insists on making it so difficult for customers to purchase your software.

On November 20, 2008 I attempted to purchase an academic version of the Adobe CS4 Master Suite. I filed the necessary paperwork and authorized a charge of $999.00 on my credit card and then had to wait for my academic credentials to be approved.

That evening I talked to my son about this purchase and he advised me that I really should purchase the full version of Adobe CS4 Master Suite in order to be able to take advantage of discounts on future upgrades.

On November 21, 2008 I received confirmation that my academic version had been approved and that it was available for download. I did not download any software. I called Adobe customer service and your agent confirmed that I needed the full version if I wished to receive a discount on future upgrades. I advised your agent that I wanted to pay the difference between the academic version and the full version and then be able to download the full version. He advised me that he was unable to upgrade my purchase. He also stated that he was unable to cancel the order for my academic version on that date and that I should try to cancel the academic order and then purchase the full version after November 24th.

Since November 24th I have contacted agents with your customer service on at least three additional occasions and have spoken to a customer service supervisor once. On two different occasions I have faxed statements to your offices swearing that I will destroy the academic version of the software that I never downloaded and have never had in my possession. Agents from your office have confirmed that they have received my faxes but they insist that they cannot give me a credit on my credit card. Instead, I must wait for a check with nothing but a promise that it will be mailed in three or four weeks.

Every time that I have spoken to your customer service agents I have informed them that I do not want a refund check, nor do I want a charge credit. All I want is to pay the difference between the academic version and the full version and then download the full version. All of your agents as well as your customer service supervisor have advised me that that is impossible. I find it incomprehensible that your company makes it so difficult for customers to pay an additional $1500.00 for your product.

I have been trying to resolve this problem for more than a month now. I still do not have any software in my possession. I still do not have a charge credit or a refund. For more than a month, your company has tied up $999.00 of my money and my credit.

I have a question I wish you would answer. If you were in my place, why should I continue to do business with your company?


Dr. Bruce Prescott
Customer ID Number : 170243379
Customer Service Case: 201526534

Cc: Dr. Charles M. Geschke, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors
Dr. John E. Warnock, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors
Brandon Bailey, Mercury News


That Baptist Ain't Right said...

You rock.

Fernando said...

I'm interested in the way you've put this.

My experience of using Adobe programmes has always been good, but I don't think they do a good job of making it easy for people to buy their products.

There's a huge price gulf between photoshop elements and photoshop CS4 and the way the bundle works doesn't really encourage people to jump up.

Tauratinzwe said...

I have had the same problem with Adobe. I've found it cheaper to keep buying new academic versions rather than upgrade. This is not the best way to do things since the academic versions don't have documentation and some extras.

To make matters more confusing, with the many "suites" they now offer, you must guess which one you need on your first purchase or forever have trouble upgrading, especially if you only want to upgrade one part, such as Photoshop but not Illustrator.

A luta continua!

GuruGal said...

I too am very disappointed in Adobe Customer Service. I own the CS3 Master Suite and had a simple question about CS3 vs CS4. I was told that in order to get the answer to my CS3 question I would have to pay $29.95 per technical support item and that if I wanted the question answered for CS4, I would have to talk with Customer Service - which hung up before I even got connected. I want to throw money, but they don't want it.

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...


I've discovered that it pays to write the CEO a letter.

It took six weeks to get my issue resolved, but in the end, they gave me a discount for my troubles that made it worthwhile to stick with Adobe.

Dameocrat said...

Why don't you try open source alternatives like paint.net, or the gimp?

closed source should at least give you some costumers service. If it doesn't what good is it to buy the product?

clothgirl said...

I too am having problems with Adobe Customer service. I purchased the CS3 creative suite from my campus book store and so didn't have problems on the front end proving education purpose, but after a month the programs wouldn't open and I got a licensing error message. Now they want to charge me for tech help because it isn't the current version anymore even though the problem was listed on their homepage this summer - so it would seem many people had the same probelm.

If the program was old enough to be replaced, shouldn't all the bugs have been worked out? It’s not a beta product – and didn’t cost a “beta” price.

Now there doesn't seem to be anyway to get to someone that can make a supervisory decision not to charge a customer for something like this. The way they have handled this and the complaints I see on the net don't inspire confidence that even if I pay the tech fee that it will work in the end, nor continue to work. Weather I say uncle and pay up, or not - I am going to work toward transitioning over to GIMP for more complex work and paint.net for easy things. GIMP works a lot like Photoshop, and paint.net is intuitive. Websites are moving over to content management systems or template hosts these days. Many of which are free or low cost. I appreciate your letter and will copy the addresses to send my own letter of complaint.


capetronics said...

Actually I was researching CS4 Master Collection and was almost ready to purchase the full version but after reading these comments I have decided to take a peek at GIMP... Well, I might hold off on that over priced, pc resource sapping purchase. Thanks guys.

Shangrong said...

I am so glad that I came across your blog in my Google search of "Adobe Product Complaints." I ordered CS4 Design Premium Cross Platform UpGrade from Windows to Mac last year on November 7, 2008. As of today, January 29, 2009 my order still has not been processed. In the meantime, in order to finish a freelance project I purchased InDesign CS4 upgrade for $199.00 and was able to use the full version of the software in trial mode. After 30 days and still no CS4 Design Premium software I requested a refund. It is now "pending." Thank you for posting your letter with the contact info to the President of the company. I will do the same.

God Bless.
Frustrated Adobe Customer

BB said...

I have had a HORRIBLE experience with Adobe Customer service! I ordered The Premium Suite for MAC 7/30/08 and paid for it. By the time I installed it (delay due to personal matters), I realized they sent the PC version which was unusable.

I called back on 12/4/08 to switch platforms and was told to fill out a Letter of Software Destruction and it would take 2 days to process then it would be ground shipped out of Georgia. I upgrade to the Premium at the same time.

I received the Premium right away, but could not use it because you need the Standard installed first, which I still have not received as of Feb. 4, 09! The calls are all routed to India and each time I have to re-explain the problem. I sent numerous emails, refaxed the LOSD several times, called. I have been constantly lied to each time.

1/5/09 It will ship in 72 hrs. Never did.

1/22/09 No record of shipment; will contact a supervisor and call back in 24 hrs. Never did.

1/23/09 I was told that I would receive it in 7 days. Never did.

1/29/09 there was a block on the order, but now it is removed: I will receive it this week. Never did.

1/30/09 Block removed but product is not in the warehouse; oh, sorry.. the block has not been removed. They do not work on weekends, call Monday. Suggested I buy it from the store then Adobe would credit me back in full then call them back and they will cancel the "switch".

1/30/09 Called Adobe sales; ordered the software, explained the problem. Said I would get it in 5-7 days.

2/3/09 Followed up on order. They did not have tracking number. The sales man apologized and said there was a 30 day return policy.I explained that I already paid for the product previously, and there was to be a credit because I never received the product I ordered.

2/4/09 I received the Standard Suite that I purchased (for the second time). I called Customer service (in India named Patricia at 10:24am) and asked that my case be closed because I purchased the product instead and Adobe said they would credit the (second) payment.

I then called the Sales Dept (USA) to get the credit. He transferred me to the Returns Dept (in India) and I had to start all over again. The guy in India wanted me to open the new product that I finally received and give the serial number for a Letter of Software Destruction!!!! I became outraged. NO WAY!

I was now told that the "platform switch" was already sent out and that I will receive it in a few days. I do not believe him. He wanted to authorize a return for the new one right away. NO WAY! I told him I will return the new one for a 30 day full credit only when I receive the "platform switch" version.

The Customer Service nightmare has pushed me to the brink of emotional outrage and finally breaking down into tears today on that last call.

People need to know what not to do. I am hoping this nightmare experience will help someone in the future. I have been using Adobe since the very beginning for Advertising design. I am shocked at what has happened to Adobe and can only dread what it will be like to get any support for the new products I have just ordered.

Beverly Bean

Brod Seale said...


I have found your blog. I really like your perspective on complaint letter writing. As I was doing my research, I have also found a great resource for online complaints: Complaint Letters. I think you will find it very interesting and resourceful