Tag Archives: Adobe

Adobe Customer Dis-service

Recently, a customer reported a problem installing Advanced Stacker PLUS.  The customer indicated that there was no “Place” in the menu so the ASP did not work with their Photoshop. The Place option is used by the action almost exclusively for adding a watermark, and we have observed the issue with some Mac installations and have a published workaround.

We thought perhaps the absence in this case was due to the new CC 2015 release, which by default REMOVES content when upgrading – specifically all ACTIONS will need to be reinstalled unless the customer does NOT follow the default upgrade process. While looking into the customer problem, I, Steven, decided that I did not need to keep paying the $50/month for the full suite on Creative Cloud when in fact I only use Photoshop and Lightroom.  So…Angry

I went to my account on the Adobe site to downgrade my license.  Not possible. The options are to Cancel or to UPGRADE to an even more expensive plan.  So I clicked “Cancel” which took me to a FAQ where I had to search for Cancel again.  Then I selected “Cancel product” and typed “I’m disappointed, I wanted to DOWNGRADE to the Photography license, but can’t find the option on my account page. I am not using the full suite, so I want to switch to the Photography Package“. After 3 minutes Ankan came on to the chat and typed “Welcome to customer service”. Ten seconds later “Hi Steven”, how can I help you”.

You can probably guess where this is going… downhill, fast. Wait, downhill very slowly.  40 days prior my “Full CC” had automatically renewed for another year, and now Adobe insisted that I was on the hook for an early termination fee should I change plans. And there is still no way to indicate you “DO NOT WANT AN AUTORENEWAL”.  How very convenient for Adobe!

After 50 more minutes of very slow responses from Ankan I had been offered “2 free months”, and the CC suite for $29.99.  I kept reminding him my goal was very simple: downgrade to Photography license: NOT to create a new contract, not be on the hook for another year, and not to pay a fee for an auto-renewal I didn’t see or authorize (my email had been broken).  I finally had enough and told them I was canceling.  Whether I sign up for a Photography CC license again will require a week of thinking about the horrible customer service, and a clear indication that Adobe had STOPPED charging my credit card.  I’m still thinking about whether I want to continue. Indeed… if I did not need to continue to support and develop Advanced Stacker PLUS, I would retreat to my PS CS5/CS6 perpetually licensed products.

My experience with Adobe left me with some clear takeaways for you, our reader:

  1. Chat or call Adobe and tell them you want to cancel (even if you are not planning to!)
  2. Explain your reason for wanting to cancel, is you do NOT want to auto renew for another year and there is no option to disable autorenewal (or that you want to downgrade to another package and there is no option for that).
  3. Stick to your guns until they offer you a better plan.
  4. Remind them that under their “auto renewal, can’t get out” scenario, if you do not take action on exactly the right date, you’ll end up on the hook for $240 in “early termination fees” – or worse.
  5. Also remind them that having to contact customer service to cancel is wasteful of your valuable time.  You can certainly cite my 55 minute ordeal if you like.
  6. Warn them that additional charges will be disputed with your card carrier.

About Advanced Stacker PLUS and CC 2015

The customer was incorrect. The Place option is present in CC 2015.  We are checking further, but we are not finding any issues… HOWEVER you may have to REINSTALL the Advanced Stacker PLUS for the reason we gave earlier… Adobe doesn’t migrate when upgrading – at least not by default and not everything you would expect.

We did notice a problem installing on our Mac (running Yosemite) which has CS5, CS6, CC, CC2014 and CC2015. The problem occurred when installing CC – it said it could not synchronize color. Whatever that means. Seemed fine after reinstall – though we doubt many of you have so many versions of Photoshop installed on your computer.

The Transcript (aka The Shady Underbelly of Adobe)

Below is the unedited transcript of my chat session with Ankan.  I wonder if it is Adobe’s plan to wear down every customer who tries to cancel their plan with 50 minutes of drivel.  And I didn’t start with the intention of cancelling! Make note of the time delays.  That was perhaps the most frustrating part.  Do notice that I had to twice request to Cancel my plan – and that it took 40 minutes for “customer service” to supply the requested service.


Your case number: 0215924254
Creative Cloud change
Membership, account, payment change
Cancel your membership change
Hi, we are currently helping other customers in line ahead of you. We’ll be with you as soon as possible.

While you wait, you can try our community forums where experts are online 24/7.

12:02:11 PM Ankan: Hello! Welcome to Adobe Customer Service.
12:02:21 PM Ankan: Hi Steven .
12:03:03 PM ME: Do I need to retype my request?
12:03:40 PM ME: Hello?
12:03:45 PM Ankan: No.
12:03:48 PM ME: Are you there?
12:03:53 PM Ankan: Yes.
12:03:59 PM Ankan: I am sorry for the delay.
12:04:13 PM Ankan: I have received your request.
12:05:12 PM ME: Can I assume that you’re switching my plan now?
12:05:51 PM Ankan: I see that you have Creative Cloud membership (one-year) registered with your account.
12:07:33 PM Ankan: I am sorry, we don’t have option to downgrade the current plan to Photoshop. However, I will help you with the link to purchase the subscription and once you place the order, I will cancel the current subscription for you.
12:08:33 PM ME: Wait, are you implying that I will be on the hook for another year by purchasing the Photography plan?
12:09:42 PM ME: Ankan?
12:10:24 PM ME: Hello?
12:10:34 PM Ankan: Yes.
12:10:40 PM Ankan: I am checking your account.
12:11:06 PM Ankan: Once you purchase the subscription, it will be valid for one year.
12:11:15 PM ME: Yes, what? Are you answering my question that I will be on the hook, or are you indicating that you’re partially paying attention?
12:11:35 PM ME: So is there a PENALTY for terminating in less than a year?
12:12:06 PM Ankan: If you cancel the subscription in the mid of the year, there will be an early termination fee.
12:13:00 PM ME: I see. So your policy is to stick the long term customer with ANOTHER penalty.
12:13:44 PM Ankan: It is an annual subscription which offers lower monthly payments and requires a one-year cycle. This plan is ideal for someone with an ongoing need to use Adobe’s Creative software.
12:14:49 PM ME: Nice try. But I have a plan, I’ve fullfilled the contract. And you’re telling me I have to have a NEW plan with a NEW contract. That’s evil. Plain and simple. I suppose you’re going to also tell me that if I UPGRADE my plan, the same hook applies.
12:16:26 PM Ankan: Steven, we don’t have option to change the plan to Photoshop from the current subscription.
12:17:09 PM ME: Oddly, you have options to UPGRADE plans, though.
12:17:33 PM ME: This is another reminder to me of the unpleasant experiences I’ve had with Adobe. So I will just cancel my plan.
12:18:54 PM Ankan: I can understand why you would feel that way.
12:19:28 PM ME: Doubtful. So is my plan cancelled yet? Or do I need to call my credit card company and report fraud?
12:20:02 PM Ankan: I have checked and see there would be an early termination fees if you cancel the subscription now because you are under one year annual commitment.
12:20:32 PM Ankan: I see that subscription was renewed on May 16, 2015 .
12:20:44 PM Ankan: I like to inform you that, all Adobe subscription renew automatically, if you don’t cancel the subscription in 12th month you will be moved to next year cycle.
12:21:16 PM ME: Great, then I will use the 30 day opt out. And you’ll extend me 10 grace days.
12:21:56 PM ME: Or I’ll call and my credit card company and dispute the charges.
12:22:29 PM ME: Since I never received ANY notification that annual plan was going to renew.
12:22:43 PM Ankan: We have sent the notification email regarding the second year commitment for the subscription as we send a notification email for every renewal of the subscription.
12:24:15 PM ME: Just searched my mailbox. Last email from adobe was 11/5/2014.
12:25:33 PM Ankan: I am sorry if you missed out the email. The email will be sent at the 11th month that is one month before the renewal.
12:25:47 PM Ankan: Steven, if you are willing to continue the membership till the end of the commitment, I can help you with two month’s free service so instead of paying for 10 months more , you will pay for the 8 months and cancel the subscription between May 16, 2016 and May 16, 2016 without fee.
12:26:09 PM ME: By the way it says “One year payment” which is incorrect since it’s actually a MONTH’s worth of payment.
12:26:57 PM Ankan: Steven, Creative cloud month to month subscription will cost you $74.99 per month and you can cancel it anytime.
12:27:09 PM ME: I am willing to cancel my account with no penalty. My second choice is to dispute the charge with my card carrier. Your choice.
12:27:29 PM Ankan: Just to confirm, may I know the reason for the subscription cancellation?
12:28:50 PM ME: Isn’t it obvious? I tried to change to a Photography plan, you told me I cannot without a NEW contract. Then you told me I’m under an annual plan that I didn’t authorize. (Apparently had to opt out last month but never saw a notification).
12:29:46 PM ME: You left me with no choice except to dispute charges.
12:30:33 PM ME: Oh, and this has taken exactly 30 minutes longer than it should have. So you’ve also wasted that much of our time.
12:30:55 PM Ankan: Steven , please allow me a minute . let me check what best can be done regarding the issue.
12:31:10 PM ME: Why didn’t you do that 25 minutes ago?
12:31:41 PM Ankan: I am really sorry to see that you are not happy with the Adobe policy.
12:31:49 PM Ankan: Can you allow me a moment while I walk to my supervisor and check for the exception to cancel the subscription with no fee ?
12:33:43 PM Ankan: Just to confirm, would you be willing to continue with complete Creative cloud membership for next year, if I offer you at $29.99 per month?
12:34:45 PM Ankan: Also, avoid the early termination fee.
12:34:46 PM ME: Really? So I go through this again a year from now? Why didn’t you just try to do what I asked to begin with? Switch me to a Photography plan without extending the contract!
12:38:35 PM ME: FYI: Adobe pulled similar crap over a year ago. I actually HAD a photography plan because adobe said only those who had PS 5/6 would qualify, and the plan would end in December. Guess what. They then opened it up to EVERYONE no qualifications.
12:39:36 PM Ankan: Steven , there is no option to downgrade the plan to Photography plan. However, once you purchase the subscription, it will be for one year contract. Even, if there was a option with me , again the commitment would be for one year only.
12:41:23 PM ME: So let me get this straight… I get smacked for an early termination fee of a plan I didn’t willfully extend. Then get ANOTHER annual contract under a different account? In what world does THAT make sense except to racqueteers and criminals?
12:43:39 PM ME: While I can sign up entirely online, apparently I have to waste 40 minutes to CANCEL a plan I didn’t ask to extend. Another ZERO for Adobe.
12:44:06 PM Ankan: Steven , In that case, I will make an one time exception for you to cancel the subscription without fee.
12:46:04 PM ME: So YOU do have the power to make an exception. How about we do it this way. You make the exception cancel the plan with no penalty and TRUST me to sign up for a Photography plan (which I stated 45 minutes ago was my intention!)
12:47:42 PM Ankan: Thank you for your patience.
12:47:44 PM Ankan: I have successfully cancelled the subscription for the Creative Cloud membership (one-year) . However you will have the access to the subscription till: Jul 16, 2015.
12:47:59 PM ME: And there is NO penalty?
12:48:02 PM Ankan: I will provide you the link to purchase the Photography plan.
12:48:20 PM Ankan: Yes, I will waived off the early termination fee.
12:49:17 PM Ankan: Please click here to purchase
12:51:06 PM ME: Ok. I am going to sit on this for a few days to decide if it is worth trusting Adobe any further, because frankly I have had zero positive experiences with Adobe.
12:51:41 PM Ankan: I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that may have caused to you.
12:52:36 PM ME: It’s not just you, of course, it’s a whole company that seems to care more about $ than customer service.
12:53:04 PM ME: By the way, is it STILL the case that 1 year contracts AUTOMATICALLY renew and the only way to cancel is to go through this nonsense?
12:54:32 PM Ankan: Steven,you can cancel the subscription in the first month and at the last month before the renewal of the commitment.
12:54:32 PM Ankan: Once again we apologize for any disappointment caused and hope to serve you in future.
12:54:46 PM Ankan: Is there anything else I can help you with?
12:55:28 PM ME: But not via the web. Can only cancel by “contacting customer disservice”… sigh.
12:56:06 PM Ankan: I am happy to inform you that you can stop the renewal of the subscription from your Adobe account after the last renewal of the contract.
12:56:15 PM ME: Thank you for canceling the contract. I suppose I’d be much more grateful if it didn’t take nearly an hour.
12:56:44 PM Ankan: I am sorry for taking much of your time.
12:56:56 PM ME: Good bye.
12:57:02 PM Ankan: It’s my pleasure assisting you today.
12:57:06 PM Ankan: Have a nice day!
12:57:06 PM Ankan: Thank you for contacting Adobe. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Goodbye!


Creative Cloud – 7 Things That Might Make You Like It

Er Spinnt [C_073871]

I’ve had great sport taking Adobe to task for their miscues and missteps. Legions of people have been in an uproar since Adobe announced they will no longer sell perpetually licensed versions of their most popular software – Photoshop, in particular.  And while I still think that for the hobbyist, those with miserable or expensive internet access, and those people who are far less than thrilled knowing that the plug can be pulled (or made more expensive) at the whim of Big Brother Adobe, I think it’s also worthwhile to note some aspects of Creative Cloud that don’t see much press. Things that may sway you toward the software rental model.

Much of what I write here I learned “from the horses mouth” Terry White, Adobe Evangelist, who flew to Adobe headquarters in San Jose to address the local Creative Suite User Group headed by Sally Cox.

Unfortunately since I original released this article in early June, 2013, I have discovered that 3 of the “10” benefits are either not delivered or were mis-represented. Still, there are some advantages you may not have thought about.

Some of the things you get with a Creative Cloud perpetual payment that you may not have considered include:

  1. Access to Lynda.com media – an online training site with some pretty great content.  This is through “Adobe.TV” and is roughly a $20/month value assuming the whole of Lynda content is available, but likely not.  It’s also not clear if the CreativeCloud access is equivalent to the Lynda normal or premium plan.  I discovered, unfortunately, the there is only paltry amount of content from Lynda.com available through the Cloud.  Serves me right for believing the Adobe evangelist and repeating what he said without thoroughly checking first. For example, there is a 13 hour series by Ian Robinson covering After Effects CC.  It’s on Lynda, but NOT available through Adobe.TV – and worse, what IS available appears to be a mish-mash of promotional videos and deep details on specific things.  No After Effects CC tutorial (i.e. for those just starting) seems to exist.
  2. Creative Cloud storage. 20Gb. Think Dropbox only more primitive and more featured, too! It’s more primitive in that sharing of files and folders is a bit less functional, but what is possible is optimized in a way that allows e.g. viewing and editing of your Cloud content from iPhones, iPads and similar devices as well as allowing browsers to see layers in a layered document.  A “coming soon” application will allow syncing files between your desktop and the cloud.  Approximate value $2/month (DropBox charges $8/mo for the 100Gb plan)
  3. Behance – I don’t get why this is such a great thing, but it’s a sharing site for creatives.  Think 500px or Flickr or Pinterest with a few features specific to attracting attention.  Approximate value ~ unclear there is no cost listed.  But it does look like another way to get “liked” and perhaps attract some business and it’s easy to share to Behance.
  4. 5 free websites. They must be on “Business Catalyst” – you’re not going to plop down a WordPress site there, but apparently it’s viable for many purposes including commerce. Approximate value $5/month – the going rate for economy webhosting. I see both praise and horror stories regarding Business Catalyst which tells me it’s about equal to other offerings.
  5. “All photoshop settings upgrade over the web” – That’s what Terry said, though I know this is far, far from accurate unless what you mean is “color palettes and brushes”. Actions and scripts don’t synchronize, for example.  Still, anything that helps keep two configurations up to date is an improvement. Approximate value… not clear, but could be time saved.
  6. More than two installations. This isn’t the official policy, but the strong hint was “if you’re not using more than two at a time you can have as many installations as you want.”  For the permanent license, 5 installs was all that is allowed before you have to “invalidate” licenses.  You’re still going to have to double pay if you use more than two systems at a time.  Approximate value – potentially significant because you can install on both a Mac and a PC. The perpetual plan allowed 5 installs.
  7. 99 days of off-net usage under the annual plan. I suspect there are many ways for this to blow up and lock down unexpectedly, but I’ll give Adobe the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty. No additional value here.
  8. TypeKit Fonts (also called WebFonts, usable on your website). This is pretty cool – THOUSANDS of downloadable and installable fonts – if you can find the ones you’re interested in, that is – the search mechanism is pretty anemic.  The implication is that the license for these is perpetual.  Unfortunately it is listed as “coming soon” not available now in my Creative Cloud app.  Approximate value – significant, could save substantial money over font purchases, perhaps $200 a year or about $15 month.   Still undelivered after 3 months.  A beta for this apparently just started in mid August, 2013.
  9. New, continuously updated content.  This remains to be seen, of course. After all it has been a year since the last Photoshop release.
  10. Endless hours of learning patience while waiting for the behemoth packages to download.  Photoshop CC took 35 minutes to get to 35% complete, and over an hour and 10 minutes to install on my reasonably fast DSL connection.  It seemed to hang at “95% installed” for a LONG time.

The net is you may find that the Creative Cloud plan adds about $40 $20 $10/month of value beyond the obvious access to the Adobe products. Your mileage will vary of course and you have to compare against what you might have spent in your normal upgrade process on a perpetual license.

What’s not clear to me is whether the “one application only” plans include some or all of the above.  If the $9.99 first-year plan for Photoshop includes Lynda, and you want Lynda, that would be a great deal. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. That’s one of the frustrating things about the whole cloud business.  Nothing is well defined anywhere. For example the official Adobe FAQ doesn’t say how much storage you get with an account, and as best I can tell doesn’t mention Lynda at all.

One thing that Adobe pointed out in the discussion is that they are well aware that raising prices may cut their own throats.  It’s not clear to me that the disincentive is that much to assume that Adobe won’t become like the cable TV providers. The difference, of course, is that you probably did not build your business on the TV channels you get.

Don’t worry, if this hasn’t swayed you. We’re buying up a number of Photoshop alternatives to evaluate them and let you know where you can get photomanipulation satisfaction without fear of inclement weather from the cloud.

On the other hand, maybe realizing that the websites, fonts, and online instruction rolled into that monthly sum, may make it a bit easier to swallow.  What do you think?  Does this make the picture reasonable for you? Or are the benefits not worth the cost?

The Cloud is a Clod

Earlier I talked about some things you should know about Adobe’s Creative Cloud method of licensing software. As of today, Monday, May 6. 2013  it became the ONLY way.

It’s a shame because just as their Cloud service has it’s strengths and WEAKNESSES, their sales implementation shows only weaknesses. For example, depending on how you find them, you get significantly different pricing. I went here, to get the pricing below. If you go to the regular front page, you’ll not see something as inexpensive.

Here is an example that apparently is “too good to be true” – a full Cloud license for $20 for the first year.


Unfortunately when I travel down the path to try to buy it (clicking the Join button):

But wait… here is what I own, according to ADOBE!

I suppose I should NOT be surprised that Adobe has managed to further trip over themselves and confuse the heck out of people like me with conflicting pricing.  I would love to see Adobe take a Netflix Style hit for this failure.  In the long run, their strategy may work, in the short run, I see it as another failure.

Adobe’s Creative Cloud

It seems like Adobe’s “Creative Cloud” offering is an attractive solution for those who would like to avail themselves of some of the powerful tools Adobe offers. Except for the sharp pokes in the eye you may experience.  You can read below the explication of my cynicism, but before that, let me point out some things you may already know.

The Adobe Creative Cloud solution means you pay a monthly cost. For that monthly cost you get the privilege of using any software that Adobe decides to put into its “Creative Cloud”. As a photographer the two most obvious gotta have items are Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4.

If you already have a licensed product the currently offered Creative Cloud monthly rate is $29.99.  Multiply that by 12 ($360) and you can see that you’re going to spend about twice what it would cost you to make annual upgrades ($200 for Photoshop CS5 to CS6). The total seems like a negative until you realize it also means you can install and use all those  other Cloud applications like Premiere, Illustrator, After Effects, Dreamweaver.  Adobe also offers a “single product” Cloud License at $240/year. But that doesn’t make sense if you’re only interested in bumping up your Photoshop – unless it’s the Extended version which costs more to upgrade annually ($400).

The Creative Cloud monthly arrangement is good for Adobe, of course, because they produce a nice predictable revenue stream – which in turn is good for us because it keeps their people employed and working toward bigger and better things.

The Great Cloud

Effectively you can test drive ANYTHING Adobe has added to the cloud for a few months (not just 30 days). And if you like it, keep paying and keep using it. If you read the Adobe FAQ and BLOGs and web pages you will notice Adobe touts all kinds of benefits, but if you are Photoshop and Lightroom only kind of user most of the pluses do not amount to any significant dollar savings to you.  And let’s be honest, sometimes upgrades and fixes do more harm than good.

Why I Am Not (Yet) A Believer

I’ve been burned and inconvenienced several times in the past trying to upgrade, uninstall and reinstall Adobe products (Photoshop CS2, 3 and 5). While  the latest versions of software seem more reliable, a quick read of the Adobe Forums reveals that there are a number of show stopping issues with Creative Cloud that go beyond mere cynicism.

  1. Creative Cloud wants to periodically check to be sure you still have a valid license – and the internet is needed for that however:
    • Adobe has had bouts of “degraded performance” (which translated means you can’t do ‘nuthin). The most recent example was Tuesday, September 25, 2012.
    • If the license check happens to fall on the first day of your two-week hiatus from the internet your ability to use the software comes to a SCREECHING halt on the 7th day. God rested on the seventh day but Adobe software becomes catatonic. When the clock runs out the grace runs out too. You get DEAD lifeless software. Some users have reported how embarrassing it has been for them to fire up their software at a customer site only to be humiliated by a “license out of date” window.
      <EDITORIALIZING: What the heck is Adobe smoking? If they had sense – and I’m sure some of them do, they’d fall back to a 30 day trial or just outright allow 30 days of grace not a week>
  2. Apparently there have been significant interactions between fully licensed software and Cloud licensed software.  With a normal (perpetually) licensed PS5 and a Cloud Licensed PS6 whenever you use PS5, your PS6 license goes into trial mode.  There seems to be a fix for this, but the fix doesn’t seem to be working for everyone.
  3. Adobe doesn’t publish their bugs.  It’s only when you install X with Y that you’ll discover for yourself the daunting problem that these two things create unless you relentlessly scan the internet. Bugs happen. Adobe seems to hope you don’t find out about a bug until it happens to you personally.
  4. Adobe says in their FAQ that under Creative Cloud you have one year to upgrade to the latest release but does not make it clear what happens if you do not. I presume the old version just stops working, which might be unfortunate if a feature you rely on is removed in a later version. You may find yourself S.O.L. (sorry out of luck).
  5. Adobe is unclear about how much “patch and fix” control you can exert.  I’m one of those people who does not install the latest iPhone software until a month has passed. The headaches and hardships of the early adopters have saved me from wasting a lot of my own time.
  6. All this wonderful software has to be downloaded. And it’s huge. LOTS of bandwidth used.
  7. Using Beta versions before installing Cloud software has known problems.
  8. If, heaven forbid, Adobe does go belly up all that great software also goes up in smoke in 30 days or less.
  9. Adobe can raise the price when they wish and as much as they like.
  10. If you decide the Cloud is raining on your wallet and opt out, you either have to stop using those tools or fork over full license costs for what you continue to use. It’s not a rent to own deal, here.
  11. Cloud will aggressively enforce the “two install” maximum. If you install Cloud Applications on more than two machines Adobe wants you to pay multiple licenses.

Bottom line for me right now: I am afraid to load the free trial.  The last time I went with an Adobe free trial I spent several DAYS researching, uninstalling, and reinstalling due to the problems that resulted.

What do you think? Does the cloud make sense for you?  I doubt Adobe is going to read this blog, but if they did, do you have a (family friendly) comment/suggestion or complaint for them?

NOTE: The terms Adobe, Creative Cloud and others are trademarked names.