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Adobe tries to strong-arm me into keeping Creative Cloud (gist.github.com)
97 points by firloop on Jan 18, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 65 comments

How is this "strong-arming"? If we keep devaluing the meaning of words, we won't have any left when something serious actually happens.

The rep ran through a couple of retention scripts, and then got mixed up because OP called on the last billing day. Then he promptly canceled the service without any charges, which is exactly what OP was looking for. (And no, it's probably not because of the threat to contact his supervisor; customers overestimate how scary that is.)

There is literally nothing to complain about here, except maybe OP felt a little bit annoyed. I'm all for calling companies on their BS, but this feels just a bit too trigger-happy to me.

> How is this "strong-arming"? If we keep devaluing the meaning of words, we won't have any left when something serious actually happens.

In the age of click bait headlines, don't expect anything to change.

It's "strong-arming" because the rep lied about this person being responsible for early termination fees.

I agree. It does feel like a fair attempt to keep the client with the genuine decent offers and in the end respecting their wishes.

I would not call this "strong arming" just a sales consultant trained to try and keep a customer from leaving. This not something unique to Adobe, it happens when you try cancelling a phone plan, when you try switching utility providers and plenty of other things. The fact the customer was available to resolve the situation without subsequent follow-ups to me indicates that Adobe did nothing out of the ordinary here.

And with all due respect, the customer decided to end their plan on the same day the billing period renews which clearly confused the sales consultant and made it harder to cancel the plan. Why leave it to the last minute when you could have done it the day before, week before anytime prior to the renewal date? I am an Adobe Creative Cloud customer and even I am aware of how their billing works.

> I am an Adobe Creative Cloud customer and even I am aware of how their billing works.

To my knowledge, this is exactly the same as to how any subscription works. They always auto-renew, although some let you opt out. Heck, it's part of the definition of the word "subscribe".

Without timestamps there's no way to be certain, but this entire conversation could have taken place over less than 10 minutes and it's highly unlikely it took much effort to type "no thanks, please cancel" a few times into a text box.

Considering that it didn't take much effort to cancel it, why is customer service dissuading someone to cancel a subscription worthy of discussion?

High pressure sales techniques are awful, and they exist because they work. I don't think having to say "no" 50 times is reasonable, and it makes you feel like an asshole just for not being an easy mark that can be pressured into buying something s/he doesn't want. I've learned to close the door in the face of over-aggressive solicitors, but I know people who have trouble with it, because it's objectively rude to do something like that. The only reason I find it acceptable is that these sales techniques are intentionally designed to exploit people's hesitancy at being rude to other human beings.

So yes, it's common practice. That doesn't mean it's not a practice that is loathsome and bad for society.

Note: I think strong arm is a completely reasonable description of this. The sales person offered multiple carrots, and then upon being rebuffed, brought out the stick (keep in mind that the context is someone cancelling on the last day of their subscription):

>Chaitra: Devon, you have purchased a subscription with annual commitment, since you wish to cancel the subscription before the end of one year period, you will be billed 50% of your monthly rate for the remaining months in your annual commitment as early termination fee.


>Chaitra: If you pay early termination fee, you will not be able to use the product, however If you continue with the subscription with 2 month free subscription you will be able to use the subscription and also get two months free subscription. In this case, I would suggest you to take an advantage of two months free subscription.

This wasn't a good faith misunderstanding, this was a situational script aimed at maximizing retention in the particular context. This is a lever that is being intentionally applied to cow people into buying an extra year of a service they don't want.

I agree that the early termination fee is a dishonest ripoff. That said, it's a poor culture if people feel like assholes for having to refuse a few counter-offers (and no, I don't think it's a core human trait, as haggling is common around the world). Negotiation is an important skill to have as an adult, and this is the 101 level.

One thing I do find disagreeable (though not to the point of considering it strong-arming) is the use of the client's first name. "Hi Devon"? Since when has "Mr. Campbell" stopped being the norm?

Well actually newspaper and magazine subscriptions pre-date cell and software subscriptions by decades. When you called to cancel, it's cancelled that day, and you get a pro-rated refund for the remaining balance, if any. The idea that it actually costs the company money to compute a pro-rata, and give your money back for unused/unwanted service or software is bunk. It's only because they've decided that's how they want it to work, and wrote it into the contract that way and their customers passively agree to that contract.

So it's legal, it conforms to the written contract, buyer beware and all that, but it's simply incorrect to say that auto-renew is part of the definition of subscribe. No, that's how it works in some contracts.

> I would not call this "strong arming" just a sales consultant trained to try and keep a customer from leaving. This not something unique to Adobe, it happens when you try cancelling a phone plan, when you try switching utility providers and plenty of other things.

How is that an excuse? "Yes, we're assholes, but so are all these other people?" We need to stop letting corporations whittle our standards down like this.

This is why I refuse to buy software-as-a-service. If I run software on my own hardware, I want to own it. When Adobe introduced recurrent billing, I decided to switch.

Fortunately a bunch of affordable, non-subscription competitors to Photoshop and Illustrator have sprung up in the recent years.

For example, Affinity Designer is a great replacement for Illustrator, and its cheaper than the academic Illustrator license I got years ago.

Maybe if I was a full time designer, I could justify renting Adobes tools, but for an occasional user they are way too expensive.

I wonder if there's any (paid or unpaid) alternatives to Lightroom (and Apple Photos).

I think Dark Table is meant to be an open source version of Lightroom:


It is not as powerful as Lightroom, but it's a good start and it keeps improving.

There are numerous, with upsides and downsides:

- Capture One Pro (Paid): This is the most complete alternative in my opinion. It can handle ingestion, taxonomy and editing. Ingestion and taxonomy are adequate but not fantastic. Editing is superior to Lightroom in my opinion. It's a little more complicated than Lightroom but I usually produce better results in a shorter amount of time. Also the processing quality in Capture One Pro is pretty consistently better than Lightroom in my experience.

- Photo Mechanic (Paid): This is solely for ingestion and to a limited degree, taxonomy. It has zero functionality for editing but plenty for moving photos around, copying them from places and to places etc. I often see it recommended by professionals as the fastest way to pull in and pick photos from a shoot.

- DxO Optics Pro (Paid): Zero taxonomy or ingestion capability. This is solely an editing tool. Its main target is superior optical correction and processing quality. I find it delivers on both of these but I also find its "magic" features like "smart lighting" to get in the way. Capture One Pro usually produces better results for me. One thing DxO does to fantastically though is noise reduction. Whatever PRIME is, it does a damn good job. On the other hand, DxO seems to have issues with my Sony A7II where the colour is consistently wrong (colours always have a red offset). I haven't noticed this with other cameras though.

- Polarr (Paid, with a free online version): Solely for editing. It's very much like Snapseed (an Android/iOS app) on the desktop. Interestingly, their desktop app appears to be a repackaged version of their web app (https://www.polarr.co/). I find it to be very high quality and very easy to use but I really prefer having my editor integrated with my library and keep coming back to Capture One Pro. If you're editing things separately, I think Polarr is a fantastic choice. I'd actually rate it higher than DxO Optics Pro (based on the output I've had from it).

- Darktable (FOSS): Does ingestion, taxonomy and editing but doesn't really any of them well. The UI is confusing and (at least to me) unappealing, the editing tools are limited and the taxonomy, while more present, is too complicated to figure out. I've tried to like Darktable but I just can't.

- RawTherapee (FOSS): Zero taxonomy but all the knobs and sliders you'd want when it comes to editing. They've put _a lot_ of effort into their image processing and it's high quality and extremely customisable. You can fiddle with demosaicing algorithms and the like all you want. Hell, you can even implement one yourself with little effort (I wrote one that's currently sitting in a PR somewhere). Same issue with this that I had with Polarr though, I like having my library and my photos integrated.

- Nik Collection (Paid): A product that was acquired by Google and still appears to be developed. They have a bunch of individual tools tailored to particular kinds of output that seem to produce high quality results but should really be integrated into a single package. No taxonomy or ingestion, pure editing.

Excellent. Many thanks

wow, Capture One looks great

You can try out Polarr at http://polarr.co/

I'm not sure if you're the right person but someone on Reddit who appeared to be from the Polarr team was promoting and gave me a free copy of the Mac app. I wrote up a ton of feedback and PM'ed it but didn't get a response. I have a feeling the account wasn't actively monitored (it was called "polarr_throwaway"), is there somewhere better to send such things?

Also I think Polarr is fantastic! It's incredible what you guys can do with a little bit of JS. If you had library/organisation features I think I could ditch Lightroom/Capture One entirely. I wish you open sourced some of your stuff, I'd even add the features I want myself.

Picky also looks extremely promising. Does it do duplicate detection of some sort? That alone is a huge problem I have with LR and C1Pro. I spend a ton of time just picking out the least blurry from a series of photos that are otherwise exactly the same.

Thanks. Didin't find the reddit comment through, could you email borui@polarr.co?

What are the alternatives to photoshop? Gimp? Luckily I still have photoshop cs5.5

On the Mac there's Acorn, which is enough for my needs, even though I run into bugs every time I use it. But it is very reasonably priced, and it does all I need.

like affinity designer, affinity photo is pretty nice

  . using or characterized by force or violence.
This is clearly a sales representative trying to retain a customer.

  Since today is the billing date, the monthly billing
  has already been started and it is not possible to stop it.
That sounds fair, albeit far from ideal. I mean, the last\first day of a billing period is always a point of contention between the customer and the provider — it was good of Adobe to relinquish the contract instead of persisting. Then again, would've been bad-will to do so anyway.

Wouldn't Adobe be better off if this story wasen't on Hacker News?

First rule of Adobe in 2016; Don't piss of anyone who falls for this pay monthly for our software?

Yea, I know it was the first day of the new billing cycle, but at this point in the game; give the customer a day of your software. Adobe is not on the position to lose anymore customers. On Tuesday, in Novato this incident will be brought up in office meeting.

I don't need Adobe like I did ten years ago. My last purchase was Lightroom 1.0, and when they wanted more money for every minor improvement--I said hello IPhoto.

and then iPhoto turned into Apple Photos and lost a few features - does it still work for you?

I canceled Creative Cloud recently as well after losing my job. Yes, the customer service agent did make a bunch of offers to try to keep me. I assume they are required to do that by management, so I don't really hold it against them.

They were pretty polite the whole time, though, and when it became clear I didn't have any valid card to pay with, as is needed on overdue accounts before any changes, they actually canceled me with no fee even though I wasn't completely done with my subscription yet, after management approval.

So, yeah, it sucks getting bugged when you end your subscription and just want it ended. But sometimes they come through for you too. I was just expecting another bill to pay in the end, but hopefully less than keeping my subscription, but ended up being free. Will definitely buy Adobe again in the future.

> Me: Can you connect me with your supervisor?

> ...

> Chaitra: I am canceling it now

So, "Can you connect me with your supervisor?" are the magic words?

They always are.

On a rather remotely related note, when dealing with automated call routing systems (the jungle that is automatic voice recognition menus), I've found that resorting to swearing will connect me with an operator.

My wife had a similar issue last week. She just notice the 600 CAD charge on her credit card. She is on maternity leave and, therefore, she is not using the software. She had no warning prior to the automatic renewing date and no invoice after the charge. She called to cancel as soon as she noticed and they decline saying that the 14-day grace period had passed. They "can" only reimburse 50% of the yearly subscription. I know some will say that it is her fault for not having marked the calendar or something, but I disagree. I think that this unfair practices. Furthermore, I'm 95% sure that this kind of behavior is illegal in Quebec. We are still waiting for an email from the "supervisor" on that issue. To be continued..

Interesting. I thought you could reverse with the credit card company, then deal with the supplier. Do credit cards work differently in Canada?

I am not familiar with the conditions needed to withhold payments although it is defensively possible in Canada as well. I will keep that in mind, thanks.

So it sounds like you can lower your subscription cost from $50 to $30 per month just by asking to cancel. Has anyone done this?

I wouldn't consider that so much strong arming but someone trying to retain a customer using either uninformed or false information.

I work in the vfx/animation industry and I have to say that I find Adobe's Creative Cloud billing is horrible for studios. The idea that you have to commit to a year is terrible for post-production companies because they scale up and down wildly. Need 10 artists for one week? Sorry, you'll need to commit to renting 10 licenses of Creative Cloud for a year! Other software that is even more expensive than Adobe's Creative Suite (like Autodesk Maya) have also moved to a subscription model, but Autodesk allows you to rent Maya by the month, if you want. Adobe is getting the best of both worlds here by not allowing you to own their software and at the same time not giving you flexible rental options. Linux support at least for After Effects would be nice as well, if you're reading this Adobe!

Maybe it's just because the custrep was confused and maybe English isn't the custrep's first language. I mean personally that convo was kinda confusing. But nothing in the conversation looks deceptive, just another long, annoying, and boring process of canceling something.

Went through a similar process when I cancelled by Creative Cloud. I got an email that my credit card had expired, so I put in the details for the new credit card. I hadn't even realized I was still paying for Adobe CC, so I then called to cancel the service. Support agent went through this same script, I was forced to pay the absurd termination fee and thought that was the end of it.

I got an email the next day thanking me for updating my Credit Card information and that my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription had been renewed because the charge on the new credit card info went through. I had to call Adobe yet again and jump through through many, many hoops but eventually got it taken care of.

What a terrible experience, I'm going Sketch all the way from here on out.

So they tried to keep a customer? It's not like they refused to do it outright. They just tried to convince him to stay. Cool.

Y'all remember trying to cancel those AOL trials back in the day? Now _that_ was a nightmare.

Looks like they were trying to trick him into paying 50% for this year? I'm sure a lot of people would go "oh damn, better paying full price 'cos I'm not using it".

That's ugly. I can see trying to entice the customer with discounts etc. to keep them going hoping they let it go on for longer, but the shenanigans about billing cycles, etc. is really not good. I'm guessing Adobe doesn't officially condone this behavior, but they should see to it that this behavior is swiftly defeated by policy so no one in customer retention does this and also continues to work for them.

> I'm guessing Adobe doesn't officially condone this behavior

Mate, it would be in the script. IT was clear the consultant was going through a checklist of offers.

This is one of the reasons Adobe's software gets pirated. Although I must admit 29.99 is not a bad deal why isn't that the price to start with?

This isn't the most pleasurable experience to cancel, but frankly, some of the offers to stay might have been compelling.

This is a far cry from strong-arming.

This sounds like Comcast tactics, if you ask me.

After this post, everybody is going to negotiate Adobe down by threatening them to cancel the subscription :)

Sigh, so to get the real price on CC you have to pretend you're cancelling? Same as with mobile phones?

You can use this to your advantage with a bit of upfront wokr. I have a bunch of stuff I have maneuvered to expire around the same month each year (stuff like insurance etc).

Each year, I pick a day just before expiry and do the call rounds and negotiate a better price. This is either by threatening to cancel, or insisting on being upgraded to new plans that only "new" customers are eligible for - there's always an angle.

Worst case, most things you pay annually for in your personal life are a commodity with low switching costs, so its even practical to actually swap things like energy (cuz they are just retailers) every year to keep getting the best deal.

No the real price is the price you're willing to pay. This is a negotiation or barter. It's the same with cable (Internet). And buying a home or car. And even late fees and interest on credit cards. If you're willing to pay standard sticker price, why should they tell you any different?

The fun part is that price is negotiable, but the contract is not. You can't say, "I'll pay standard price, but I want a month to month, no autorenew contract." Pfff, nope. They want you to forget that expiration date, because now they have a guarantee of at least 50% of the value of the next term at the non-negotiated rate.

Just like Comcast does it.

You should just tell them you are moving to the platform that they don't support. When I canceled some services when I made my move to Linux, places didn't try hard to retain me. (Well, they can't if they don't have workable solutions available.)

Turns out "May I please speak with your supervisor?" are the magic words to get out of an early termination fee from Adobe. If only it were that simple with Comcast...

Thanks for the tip OP!

Developers on macs, you have lots of alternatives! Affinity Designer and Pixelmator, for vector and raster graphics. Apple Motion is still in the app store for compositing.

If you think this is bad. Make sure you never ever ever get SiriusXM even if it's just free with your new car.

They still call me almost weekly.

"Please take me off your list" seems to work on legitimate businesses.

Have you tried asking them to not call you again?

and they'll mail you every month with lower and lower offers. I think the most recent one I got was $14 for 6 months?

Adobe sucks, stop using them for stuff.

Well played, Adobe!

I learned some new moves today.

I recently changed my credit card. That solved the issue with Adobe.

Wow we've allowed these companies to implement horrific consumer practices, holding us hostage, making canceling incredibly inconvenient. We need new consumer protections, this goes beyond trying to keep a customer, it is borderline harassment.

Wow, how do you manage in the real world?

Copy, paste, "No interest". After a point, escalate. Boom problem solved.

You must be a corporate shill who thinks its a acceptable to hold someone's money hostage by extending past my "no interest", wasting my time and really trying to sell me crap I don't need or want. We should be able to cancel as easy as we sign up. In the real world it is never as easy as "no interest" with many of these companies, look at all the stories of people trying to cancel their cable packages.

does the customer service rep get some negative points if an account is cancelled by them ?

Well, if you work in the retention department, how else would your performance be measured except by the number of customers you retain? :-)

Generally yes. That's why the retention reps are happy with "I'm moving" or "I moving to OpenBSD" and other non-negotiable reasons for closing the account as they typically don't count against them.

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