Every so often, companies just get too big and greedy. Sometimes its through CEO’s desperate to maintain growth and others because of ridiculous sales targets they end up altering their models which inevitably only ends up hurting themselves and the ender user. We’ve seen it time and time again, from Facebooks determination to maximise ad revenue by taking no moral stance on lies in political adverts on its platform to even Google now trying to merge Ad PPC results with organic as slyly as possible.
Sometimes you just get tired of being nothing more a statistic than some good old fashioned brand loyalty / business to customer relationship. As such I’ve made some changes this year already, I’m changing browser from Chrome to Brave; making changes to logins ready for the eventual Facebook farewell but neither of those have annoyed me as much as Adobe in recent years.
I’ve paid plenty to Adobe over the years through the Creative Cloud and the various apps on it – well over a thousand. The issue isn’t in the quality of the service delivered through the apps themselves, the developers have always done a good job, it’s the greed of what I assume is the sales and retention departments.
So what was the straw that broke the camels back for me? After all Adobe have been the defacto company for design software for decades so you wouldn’t move on from them lightly…
The first straw
The first huge gripe I had with Adobe was several years ago, I had been paying for Adobe Stock monthly ( you get so many credits each month and they rollover if not used ), having paid for months without using a single credit, I decided it would be better to pause the payments or cancel the ongoing payment until I had used up the credits I had, which at this point was somewhere in the 40-100 range.
So I went ahead and canceled – at which point they wiped all my credits off my account, when I complained, I was basically told tough shit in the forums and there was no interest in any form of apology / refund.
So I was robbed of my money and from what I’ve read, those who contribute to the service, don’t fare much better
The Second Straw
I had a website design & logo design freelance gig and having had moved from Adobe CC to just the photography package with photoshop & some cloud storage ( never once used it ), I no longer had a vector designing program like illustrator. So I jumped online, grabbed illustrator and designed the logos in a couple of weeks ( a free trial wouldn’t have lasted long enough for the back and forth process with the client)
Being that I don’t like paying for software that I don’t use, I went to cancel Illustrator for the remainder of the year. This in itself is frustrating as there is no option to cancel on the account section, this is a genuine gripe many have. The only way you can cancel, is to contact support, jump on live chat to be told that it was only possible to do so by paying a cancelation fee.
At which point I was told I was in an annual contract… paid monthly and as such I would have to pay a cancelation fee with 50% of the remainder of the months. At this point, I was ready to facepalm as I remembered I had had similar issue with Adobe years ago in the past canceling the CC which had a MUCH higher price tag, it was ridiculous then and is ridiculous now and is an issue A LOT of people have had because the signup experience is not clear. Or at least, was not for many of us when we originally signed up, being that they have changed their UX a few times.
Being that I didn’t fancy paying for 6 months worth of a subscription to a service value wise I got less than 1/12th out of, I explained the situation, lack of clarity on their end and after much back and forth got the fee waived.
Now I will give credit and say the pay monthly annual contract is a bit clearer looking at the user signup experience now than it used to be, I will point out that the markup is frankly outrageous. A few euro extra is expected but 12 euro extra per month for flexibility?
50% of the price added on for greed.
The Straw that broke the Camels Back
Having moved to Spain, a few things have changed for me. I now have to do taxes quarterly & I’m now VAT registered. So essentially, all my invoices need my VAT number / theirs and 0% for the EU reverse charge if they’re based in another EU country ( which Adobe are ).
So having down my first quarters taxes and realised my mistake with Adobe that all my invoices were still treated as B2C, I jumped on live chat with them to rectify & get them updated. However issue after issue came up on the live support, to the point that I spent hours ( not fun ) trying to circumvent different departments until the point I was told, I had to cancel my subscription with Adobe UK and change to Adobe Spain, at which point I would be able to deduct my VAT normally as the invoice would be from a Spanish address. So I worked with the agent to change my subscription model to the Spanish one instead – remember this as its important.
Which makes sense, as a bonus they said they would update my past invoices so the VAT number would be there, which I wasn’t expecting but it never happened so just more wasted time.
Except as you can probably guess given the theme of this post, none of that happened, during this time the guy I was talking to on live support couldn’t verify my VAT number because of the syntax ( again their issue for accepted formats )
Eventually he said he got it verified and that his team would include the VAT number on the invoices soon. “Don’t worry, our team will email you in a few days once this is complete”
Fast forward 4 months to when I’m completing my second quarter and I notice to my disdain, the VAT issue has not been resolved and even better, the invoices are now in Spanish but its still to the same section of Adobe region wise and it’s still an Irish VAT number.
In which case the VAT would be 0% – it was not. I checked my emails and noticed they had closed the case without ever resolving or trying to follow up on the issue. Which quite frankly is woeful customer service.
So now that I’ve probably wasted about 8-10 hours of my life on this in total for an invoicing issue that is incredibly easy to solve and every other company I was working with was able to quickly resolve with no issue, I was on live chat AGAIN. I could see the previous conservations and asked if the agent had access to the same logs, he confirmed. Before proceeding to have the EXACT same conversation and problems, that if they had actually bothered to scan through they would have easily understood the situation.
Having been exhausted with this issue, I explained in pretty simple terms either this issue is resolved or I’m no longer going to be an Adobe customer, he then forwarded my request to his “VAT Team” who responded an hour later,
“this VAT is showing as invalid, please check the syntax and send again”
Which given that there is an entire “team” dedicated to VAT, the idea that they could not try a few variations or compare their required syntax to the correct VAT number I gave them just made me decide that I’m finished with Adobe and it’s down mostly to greed & awful customer service.
So after a few choice words in the email response, I jumped on livechat and told them to cancel the service. Once again, I was told I had to pay a cancelation fee and that it would be 50% of the remaining months. So what was turned out to be the biggest pisstake in this whole affair was they decided that the ‘start date’ of this would be from when they made me change to the Spanish service, the same Spanish service that for all the time spent changing, achieved nothing other than paying in Euros instead of pounds.
Even if I had intentions of paying the remainder ( from when I took the UK subscription it would have been paying 1 month ) but the idea they were going to charge for 5 months because of blunders on their end and idiotic policy, well I pretty much explained in no uncertain terms I would not be paying that fee and in some pretty kind and respectful words explained what I thought of how this entire situation had been handled.
Long story short, I didn’t pay the fee.
Having dealt with this issue before, I’ve seen it time and time again others dealing with the same issues because of frankly terrible customer service and policy. I actually had the same issue as this person did when originally canceling my Adobe Creative Cloud license.
Now it’s good that they will waive the cancelation policy if pressed but reading through a ton of articles and blog posts, its very clear they have a script to try and bully you into the fee, with the waive being a method of saving company face. The fact the cancelation fee is not mentioned in the plans to begin with is some dirty underhanded tactics.
Who to move onto?
Given now that I’m not stuck paying monthly for software I rarely use, I’ve found looking around the market there is much more viable industry options than in the past.
An Adobe Illustrator alternative I ended up using was Affinity Designer. Which although lacking some features and slightly different in UX to Illustrator, I was able to pick it up quickly enough and design a pretty nice fully vector logo in it. They also appear to have their own alternative variations for Photoshop and Indesign and seem to be growing in popularity ( I wonder why )
Best of all? It’s a one-off purchase, no recurring dodgy annual commitments or underhanded tactics. I can say so far also that I’ve already had much better customer service than Adobe, given that after buying , I noticed the same issue with the VAT needed rectified. I emailed, got a quick response with the corrected VAT and a refund sent back, with absolutely no issues.
So for anyone else who is fed up of Adobe, especially Freelancers in similar circumstances, there’s other options out there, don’t feel locked in.
*** Note, this is not an affiliate post, I am in no way associated with Affinity / Serif from a referral or affiliation scheme. ***