Adobe Needs Eight Employees To Completely Screw Up CS3 Cross-Grade

Jay wanted to update his copy of Adobe Creative Suite 2 to CS3 and simultaneously switch the license over to the Mac platform. The first sales rep he spoke with did everything right and Jay was very happy. Then that sales rep disappeared forever, only to be replaced by a comically inept parade of CSRs who can’t figure out Adobe’s own systems, who make up their job titles, give out fax numbers to call, and who—in one case—claim to be on a phone system that doesn’t connect to the outside world.

I wanted to upgrade my Adobe Creative Suite 2 to CS3, and switch from Windows to Mac. I was afraid it would be complicated, but the sales rep, Jim, knew exactly what he was doing. He found the right order code to get me a double-upgrade (I also own Macromedia Studio), and he explained the complete process we’d follow. He’d overnight the Windows CS3 at no charge, and when I received it, I should e-mail back a Letter of Destruction (LOD), so they could crossgrade me to the Mac CS3. He showed me where to download the LOD, so I could fill it out in advance. He was a delight.

When I got the package, I e-mailed the LOD to Adobe, and got a form letter back from “JD” acknowledging it. Great! But three days later, I got another letter from “Edgar P”: “In order to finish processing your letter, please provide a Letter of Software Destruction”…

The rest is a sad story. There are no shocking, egregious, offensive acts by Adobe; nobody was locked in a fitness center overnight, or arrested, or cheated, or lied to. Adobe merely failed. They had forty individual opportunities to delight a customer. Forty opportunities to provide basic, expected service. Or, at the very least, forty opportunities to consider their own enlightened self-interest as a business, and examine their own deficiencies. They showed no interest in doing any of that.

Instead, Adobe failed. Forty times in a row. At every level from the front-line representative to the self-proclaimed manager of North American customer care.

When we posted Jay’s story, we contacted him to see if there’d been any happy ending by the end of the week. There hadn’t been. In fact, the list has grown to even more screw ups and weird responses. Here’s what happens when a designer-type spends a week without the CS3 he shelled out big bucks for:

Hi! Thanks for posting it. The update:

1. I have re-annotated the list, made a few more calls, and it’s now 59 ways. Adobe makes “Yours is a very bad hotel” look like a model for success.

2. Their corporate web site has an entire section called “Customer Engagement: Today’s Business Mandate”, in which their executives write at length about:
a. How Adobe “creates engaging experiences”
b. How Adobe “builds engaging content”
c. How Adobe builds tools that enable Adobe’s customers to engage with *their* customers

See anything missing? Sad, but true: There is no mention of Adobe actually engaging with customers. It’s all very “Put on a sweater, I’m cold”, very Larry Craig, very Eliot Spitzer.

3. I finally got a call from Stephanie, in customer service, who actually has both a last name *and* a phone extension. Turns out that Dawn did ship me the Mac version… to my fourth-most-recent address. (Keep in mind that Jim, the front-line sales rep, managed to ship the Windows version to my current residence.) Someone out there just got a free Master Collection.

4. Stephanie has shipped another copy – to me, this time – which I should receive on Tuesday.

The updated list below:


1. [We got your letter! Please send it.]
Although I sent a Letter of Destruction, and received an acknowledgement of that LoD from Adobe, Adobe’s database didn’t think I had sent an LoD. So I called, and

2. [“Que?”]
I got a rep who barely spoke English, whose name I didn’t catch, who

3. [“One definition of insanity…”]
told me that I should just send the LoD again. When I pointed out that this didn’t work so well the first time, he

4. [Somebody Else’s Problem]
said he’d have to transfer me to pre-sales. Only then he asked what product, and I told him CS3, and he said with surprise

5. [I may have been mistaken]
“Oh! Wait, we handle that here! What’s your customer number?” So I told him, and

6. [Somebody Else’s Problem]
he said “Oh, yes, we have to transfer you to pre-sales, as I said.” So

7. [He may have been mistaken]
he did, where I got a woman named “Kareen” [?] who said that, of course, he shouldn’t have transferred me. So she transferred me back, but

8. [Telephones are complicated]
my call went into the abyss, and after a few minutes of silence I hung up. I called back, and, and got “Ali”, who

9. [One definition of insanity…]
again tried to just talk me into sending it again. Because surely that’d help. When I pointed out, again, that this didn’t work the first time, she

10. [Somebody Else’s Problem]
tried to transfer me to “the department that handles that”. But then she came back a few minutes later, sounding confused, and said

11. [Make something up]
“I think it would be best if you called them directly.” So she gave me the number to call, 800-955-1610. Which of course

12. [Remember fax machines?]
is a very loud fax number. That smarted a little. Fed up, I called back, and got “Christopher”, whose

13. [“Que?”]
name clearly wasn’t Christopher. He told me the number for “executive customer service” is 800-866-8006, which

14. [Make something up]
is really just the automated switchboard. I tried dialing-by-name, and Bruce Chizen was listed, but he’s not CEO anymore. And your new CEO, Shantanu Narayen, is

15. [Engage, but without talking]
not in the phone directory. I looked on the web site for an executive in charge of customer service, but

16. [Designed by committee]
you don’t even have one. Resigned, I pressed 0 for the operator, and got Veronica. I asked for the number to executive customer service, but she said

17. [It’s policy. You understand.]
she can’t give that out – “it’s an internal line”. She could transfer me, though, so she did, and then

18. [Telephones are complicated]
after four minutes of silence, I again gave up and hung up. I called back and got “Ash-a-lee”, who

19. [Your call is important to us]
put me on hold as soon as she answered the phone, without giving her name first. When she came back, I asked for executive customer service, and she

20. [I do not think it means what you think it means]
transferred me to the main customer service phone tree. I hung up and called back, and got Ash-a-lee again. Instead of just transferring me, she

21. [I heard what you asked for; let me tell you what you want]
asked for my customer number. Then, instead of transferring me, she

22. [I heard what you asked for; let me tell you what you want]
asked me what product I was having trouble with. So I told her I had trouble with the customer service staff and the operator. She put me on hold and… I was now talking to Dawn, who says she’s a manager in customer care. I gave her the info, and she logged into the computer

23. [Computers are complicated]
for the next ten minutes, because she

24. [Mostly I just golf]
“hadn’t used this part of it in a while.” Meanwhile, Dawn, how do I get back to you if we get disconnected?

25. [Telephones are complicated]
“I don’t have a direct line.” [She did take my phone number so she could call me.] Eventually, she dug my letter out of the inbox and re-attached it to the ticket. So how long will it take now?

26. [It’s policy. You understand.]
“Up to 48 hours for the warehouse to process.” Well, can’t I just download it?

27. [Tell me more about this “Internet”.]
“No, you’d still need a serial number.” [you don’t have any around? You didn’t write the program that generates them?] Can’t you call the warehouse?

“No, they don’t work 24 hours a day.” [It’s noon in California.] OK, can you

29. [You want me to think of everything?]
at least ship it overnight? [why didn’t she suggest this herself?] “Yes, I can do that. But I

30. [You can’t rush perfection.]
“can’t promise it’ll ship today, because it’s already 3 o’clock in Georgia.” Fine, fine, I give up. So now let’s talk about why it took me an hour to get to you where you can help me. What happened with JD, with Edgar, with Ali and Kareen and Veronica and Ash-a-lee? Why did it take me half an hour just to get to you?

31. [Tell me more about this “closing the loop”.]
“I apologize.” [Not “I’ll look into it”. Not “we’re working on training”] Yes, I appreciate your apology, but don’t you guys have systems in place? How do we prevent this from happening again? What went wrong?

32. [Stuff happens.]
“User error, probably”. I understand; don’t you have some sort of feedback loop? Does Adobe not have an executive customer service department? “Yes, and I’m in that. We have a ‘very small group’ that deals with these issues.” OK, what’s your title?

33. [I’m Ted Stryker, and I’m facing forward.]
“…like I said, manager of.. customer care and sales in North America.” [I can’t remember anyone, ever, when asked for their title, not rattling it off. I frankly don’t think this is her title.] So

34. [Tell me more about this “closing the loop”.]
isn’t there someone who wants to look into why problems happened? You’re in charge of all of this, right? “Yes.” OK, and I have no way to contact you?

35. [Telephones are complicated / Accountability is for suckers]
“No, as I said, it’s an internal line.” So I can’t dial your extension from that main phone directory?

36. [Telephones are complicated / Accountability is for suckers]
“No, you can only get it if you’re physically inside this building.” [If I can get to Bruce Chizen, I find that hard to believe.] Really? Are you considering a new phone system?

37. [Telephones are complicated / Accountability is for suckers]
“I have no idea.” [I don’t believe you. If you are in charge of customer care, and Shantar can’t reach you from his cell phone, you’re talking about that problem every single day until it’s fixed.] OK, and there’s no accountability? You can’t give me your extension, you can’t give me a last name for the operators to transfer me to?

38. [It’s policy. You understand.]
“No, we have a policy, I can’t give you my last name.” [I have never heard of such policy at the executive level, only the call center level. I again find it hard to believe.] “But I’m the only Dawn here. But you should

39. [Accountability is for suckers]
“just ask to speak to our group; one of us will handle it.” But that didn’t work! It took me three tries to get to you! “Well, they’ve

40. [Accountability is for suckers]
“been receptionists for years, and this has

41. [There’s no record of that. We don’t keep records.]
“never happened before.”

I gave up, resigned to hoping that the product would actually ship Monday as promised. Oh, but Dawn called back a few hours later, asking

42. [Mostly I just golf]
“Wait, I just looked at this – you’re ordering the Mac version? I can’t find any record of that.” [I walked her through what Jim had done, and she figured it out.] “Oh, OK. Bye!”

43. [Engage, but without talking]
I know that the PR department always knows who the “fixers” are, so I left voicemail for Holly Campbell. She never called back.

44. [Engage, but without talking]
Likewise, I’ve been impressed with John Nack’s forthrightness on his blog, so I sent him an e-mail. No response.

45. [Engage, but without talking / Accountability is for suckers / It depends on your definition of “is”]
A quick Googling revealed that plenty of Adobe employees have both phone extensions *and* last names. Dawn lied.

…time passes…

On Tuesday, when I still hadn’t received the package, I called the switchboard and got “Vasty”. I asked for Dawn; Vasty said

46. [Accountability is for suckers]
she had no way to transfer me to her. But she could transfer me to [some sort of call queue], and “let’s see where it takes us”. So

47. [Your call is important to us]
I waited ten minutes in silence before I hung up. I called back, got Lamar. This time, I asked for the “office of the CEO”.

48. [I heard what you asked for; let me tell you what you want]
“Which software is this in reference to?” Adobe. “Is it a software issue?” No, it’s a corporate issue. [long silence] “Hold please.” So

49. [Your call is important to us]
I waited seven minutes in silence before I hung up. I called back, got “Lissette”. Maybe we can get some accountability within the switchboard operators group, and work up from there. First, let me make this clear; I do not want to be placed on hold again. Now: Are Adobe operators outsourced, or are they employees?

“That information is not provided to us.” … OK, I’ll ask slower. Are you an Adobe employee? “Yes”. OK, so who’s the manager of the switchboard operators?

“Unfortunately, we show only first and last names, not that information.” … OK, I’ll ask slower. You know who your supervisor is, right? “Yes.” What is their name?

52. [It’s policy. You understand. / Accountability is for suckers]
“Names are considered confidential.” … OK, just transfer me to the office of the CEO. “Here’s the line.”

53. [Your call is important to us.]
I waited five minutes in silence before I hung up. I called back, and got Lissette again. Was I clear that I didn’t want to be placed on hold? “Yes.” Did I ask for the office of the CEO? “Yes.” Who did you transfer me to? “Level 2 escalations.” Why did you place me on hold?

54. [Telephones are complicated]
“That’s how our telephones work.” No, that’s called a blind transfer. Your PBX, like everyone else’s in the past 25 years, allows you to stay on the line until the other person answers. “My telephone doesn’t have that feature.” OK, just transfer me to the office of the CEO. “Here’s the line.”

55. [Your call is important to us.]
I waited five minutes in silence before I hung up. I called back, and got Ash-a-lee (who today is just Ashlee). I’d like to speak to someone who works in the office of the CEO, please.

56. [I heard what you asked for; let me tell you what you want]
The whole song-and-dance with customer number, what product are you calling about, I need some more information first, etc. [I didn’t cooperate very well, I’m afraid.] This is not about software; this is about your corporation. Let me speak to someone who handles the CEO’s schedule. I’m thinking of stopping by, and I want to make sure he’s in town. “Can you hold the line?” No! Just put the phone down. “OK, one moment.”

57. [Your call is important to us.]
I waited ten minutes in silence before I hung up. I called back, and got Ashlee again. Please transfer me, you know the drill. Finally, I got a real person’s voicemail! Melissa something. I left a message. I admit, it was snarky. (I think I implied that a media circus was coming to town.) I’d just been poorly treated 56 times, so *I* forgive me, and that’s what really counts. Anyway…

58. [Your call is important to us.]
She never called back.

59. [Shipping a box is complicated.]
Although Jim in sales (who, I repeat, is extremely competent and helpful) was able to overnight the Windows version – on Friday, for Monday – to my *current* address, Dawn somehow managed to “overnight” the Mac version – on Friday, for Tuesday, under protest – to the house I sold before I moved to the apartment before the apartment before the apartment I live in now.

60. [To be continued?]
On Thursday, I navigated the phone system myself, and left voicemail for John Loiacono. He hasn’t called back, but it hasn’t been very long. Yet.

(Photo: David Wilmot)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shannon says:

    Dude, I totally thought this article was about chimps.

  2. IphtashuFitz says:

    @Shannon: Sounds like that’s what Adobe has staffing the phones…

  3. wickedpixel says:

    one word: bittorrent

  4. randombob says:

    Ha ha ha. Man! I’m not laughing AT you, I’m laughing WITH you, trust me.

    Really hoping Apple develops it’s “Core” technologies more thoroughly (core animation, core image, etc) and usurps Adobe…. $2500 is a LOT of money to pay for what you got. That being “nothing” at this stage.

  5. azntg says:

    I’m sure the companies will beg to differ, but it’s issues like these that really lets the pirates better off than the legit paying customers. They really shouldn’t call them copy protection schemes anymore. More like money usurpation schemes.

    I’m doing my best to stick with open-source and only with proprietary software that came bundled with my computer or hardware purchase. But don’t blame me when I resort to the no-cd patches and whatnot when my original copy fails me.

  6. Anks329 says:

    @wickedpixel: Agree 100%. You’ve paid for the product, you can get the correct code and install it in about 10 minutes.

  7. xaqdesign says:

    Well, this is yet another prime example of how big adobe has gotten, and how unfocused on their customer’s needs, wants and actually listening they really are.

    Shame really. I’m looking to do something similar in Sept. when our marketing dept. finally gets Macs. Go from Windows CS3 to Mac CS3.

    The Adobe chat person I spoke w/ online made it sound SO simple. I send them the money for shipping, they send me the product. There was no mention of Letters of Distruction, etc…

    Damn you Adobe.

  8. outofoffice says:

    If only the resolution to Jay’s problem was as brilliant as his documentation.

  9. MercuryPDX says:

    @wickedpixel: I’m with you there….

  10. sean77 says:

    Ok, the xenophobic name “quoting” in the article is completely inappropriate.

  11. humphrmi says:

    Unbelievable. Adobe used to be an elite group of people who did whatever it took to get things done right, both in R&D and CS (and probably everywhere else.) How the once mighty have fallen.

  12. fhic says:

    @Shannon: “Dude, I totally thought this article was about chimps.”

    It is.

    For what it’s worth, I totally love that concept of “Letters of Destruction.”

  13. Ian S. says:

    Adobe’s Customer Service is really lacking. I had a similar catastrophe when I first purchased CS3. I basically pre-ordered the Production pack, and then realized it came out several months after the rest of the packs. So I called Adobe, got a helpful optimistic rep who “canceled” my original pre-order for me and placed an order for the Design pack that came out sooner. Problem is, it never got canceled, as I noticed when looking at my online account a few months later.

    I tried canceling it later, only to be told that they couldn’t cancel pre-orders, at all, ever. So I had to wait until it was delivered, fill out a LOD, and wait 6-8 weeks to get my money back. Then, I still lost the money they spent shipping software I didn’t want and had already CANCELED, and had funds tied up for two months.

    In the whole process I spent hours on hold trying to call Adobe, because they love to transfer you between departments with 30 minutes of hold in-between. They never explained how it was that the first rep I talked to got away with lying to me about being able to cancel my pre-order, as that’s something that their systems apparently don’t allow them to do. Either that, or the several reps I talked to later who spent hours bouncing between departments and scratching their heads couldn’t figure out where the cancel button was.

    All in all, I found it a nightmare and much harder to legitimately purchase their software than if I were to download it off BitTorrent and pirate a license.

  14. rjhiggins says:

    This is sad. I used to love Adobe, both their products and their service. Still love a lot of their products, but they’ve gotten so big, and absorbed so many other companies and their products (e.g., Macromedia), that they’re no longer the same company.

    Still, no matter how poor the service was I totally reject the Bittorrent suggestion. That’s just weak justification for stealing.

  15. ? graffiksguru says:

    I love adobe, and have never had a problem with them until we upgraded from CS2 to CS3. It turns out our CS2 license was a volume license, and our CS3 is retail, so it wouldn’t recognize the cs2 serial when prompted during the cs3 install. Pain in the ass? yes, but after about 15 min of talking to two different reps (I think they were from india, but I could understand them fine) they helped me out. The crappy thing is, after I got a virus on my computer and had to format and reinstall everything I had to do it again. Adobe is ginormous now, especially after they bought out macromedia, but I still love em.

  16. Buran says:

    @rjhiggins: That’s not what happened, they’re just saying “I can understand why people do it since the service is so bad”.

  17. sprocket79 says:

    Putting this as an aside since someone mentioned bittorrent: Please don’t steal your software. When I was in college I worked for a small software company and I know how much time, money, and effort goes into producing it. Even at big companies like Adobe, it takes a lot to put out software. Please pay for it.

  18. mattshu says:

    I had a very similar experience upgrading to CS3 from CS2 & Macromedia studio. Damn monopolies.

    Free Freehand from the oppression of Adobe!

  19. Shannon says:

    Aha… so I was right! This is awesome.

  20. sprocket79 says:

    @mattshu: I don’t see how Adobe is a monopoly if other companies are free to make similar products?

  21. matto says:

    Adobe software is the only commercial software I’d use without purchasing, simply for the fact that their licensing and customer support is exactly this fucked up.

  22. Anks329 says:

    @rjhiggins, and sprocket79: I’m not saying the people should pirate software, but in specific case, I can justify someone going on BitTorrent and getting a serial number. This is the case where the person has already paid for the product and just needs the correct serial number.

  23. SpaceCat85 says:

    If Adobe any more complacent, they’ll turn into Quark…ever have to get a new 20+ character activation code over the phone from them to reactivate software you paid $800 for (or more, if you factor in previous versions) and depend on for your livelihood? What a time-wasting, soul-sucking experience.

    Also, the bittorrent thing won’t work for anything above CS1 unless you already have a legitimate code and/or some way to crack the software. Two computers can be “activated” per license, and any installations on additional computers will not work unless you deactivate another computer. Not nearly as draconian as Quark XPress 6’s scheme, but not nearly as liberal as older Adobe products.

    We need some more cross-platform competition in the graphic design industry. Macromedia’s part of Adobe now, and I have no clue what Corel’s up to, only that everything they make aside from Painter has been Windows-only for years now.

    (P.S. I own legitimate copies of the CS1 and CS3 design suites)

  24. Adobe hasn’t given a toot about customers since they started the strategy of developing some products Windows only. First they promised a Mac OS X native version of Framemaker, which already had a huge Mac user base – then they delivered Frame 7, which only ran in the “Classic” mode – and which won’t work on Intel Macs at all.

    One of the more egregious things they’ve done is to change the selection behavior in Photoshop CS3. Instead of feathering from the inside of the selection border (like every other version of Photoshop since v2), they now feather starting at the border of the selection – screwing up my workflow. Adobe has been completely silent on this issue despite several bug reports from me and many other photographers.

    Add to that several screwups with my upgrade orders over the past four years, and you have a company that seems to love to ignore their customers. Adobe can’t seem to figure out that being cool and creative is not enough to get by on – you have to service customers, too – and that includes not changing long-standard behaviors.

  25. If Adobe any more complacent, they’ll turn into Quark

    Who says they haven’t? The only difference is that Quark put out upgrades every few years, while Adobe has been milking me for $195 about every 18 months or so for Photoshop upgrades that don’t do anything useful, that take more memory, and run slower.

    At least when I shell out $129.00 for OS X every 18 months I get some features I can use – and the software always gets faster on the same hardware. Adobe software? Not so much.

  26. opposablethumb says:

    I’ve used Adobe’s products for nearly 15 years and their customer service started out bad and has only gotten worse over the years. They have many different, seemingly unconnected databases that somehow never get merged properly and at one time, they had 7 different accounts for me. The classic was when I was upgrading to Photoshop CS and they couldn’t find any record that I owned Photoshop 7 (I bought it directly from Adobe) in any of the 7 accounts. Having learned the hard way how woefully incompetent they are, I had kept my receipts. They asked me to fax it to them. I did. Four times. They either couldn’t find the fax machine they asked me to fax it to or they lost it — in the space of three minutes while I was still on the phone. Documenting interactions with Adobe is futile. You might as well document interactions with your dog. Oh wait! My dog is much more competent. Always, always, always check your registrations with them and make sure they’re correct. You may have to do it frequently, since Adobe often messes up their databases. And always remember that Adobe just plain doesn’t care. You are NOT important to them and they care nothing about their customers.

  27. mammalpants says:

    i prefer Appetite for Destruction.

  28. Jay Levitt says:

    @sprocket79: You can have a monopoly without it being an illegal monopoly. Adobe really does have a monopoly – more than Microsoft, more than Google.

    Think: If every copy of Windows and Office stopped working tomorrow, we’d switch to Mac or Linux. If Google disappeared, we’d sigh and go back to But if PostScript, PDF, and Flash all died, the economy would collapse. And we couldn’t even read about it in the news, because Photoshop, Dreamweaver and PageMaker/InDesign/FrameMaker would be gone too.

    They’ve done it completely legitimately; they didn’t bully their competition the way Microsoft did. They either outdid them or they bought them.

    Which is still a bad reason to be complacent.

  29. Jay Levitt says:

    Update: It’s now 59 ways, and Dawn sent the Mac version to my fourth-most-recent address. Meanwhile, fun weekend reading at Adobe’s site, with articles by five top execs:

    Customer Engagement: Today’s Business Mandate

    Challenge: Can you spot the one aspect of customer engagement that nobody mentions?

  30. midwestkel says:

    I have had issues where I couldnt reinstall CS3 two different CSRs not here in the states told me to delete stuff from my registry.

    Finally got someone in the US that said that made it worse. I ended up formating the hard drive and reinstalling Windows.

    What can you do but to take it when you are in the industry of graphic design, web design, or video production really (Besides FCP for Mac)? Deal with it

  31. sean77 says:

    Jay: we’d switch from Photoshop to the Gimp, Illustrator to Inkscape, and no one should be using dreamweaver anyway (if you can’t hand code, you shouldn’t be doing web work).

    Adobe doesn’t make a single product that doesn’t have viable competition. Sure you may not be familiar with the alternatives, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

  32. ludwigk says:

    I like it when people tell you that the ‘such and such’ department doesn’t have a phone number. Ok, you mean to tell me that you are a multi-million dollar corporation, and your main customer care center in Boise has no phones? What do they use to communicate? Carrier pigeons? Smoke Signals? I hope someone got fired over that one. What if they have an emergency and need to dial 911? I hope they brought their cellphone to work. No wonder your service is so lousy…

    Is it so hard to say “We don’t give out that number.”? It’s equally bad, but less worthy of ridicule.

  33. CyberSkull says:

    Letter of Destruction? WTF? We upgrade Adobe software every year here at work (I work at my community college) and we never have to bother with such bunk ever.

    Yeah, I just checked with my boss. She said we never have to do anything like that.

  34. volve says:

    This is EXACTLY the same experience I had with Adobe too. Not a single person answering ANY of their phone lines in ANY of their customer-facing departments seemed to get a single thing done right.

    Even if you manage to get through the process, can you believe that buying a digital download of, in my company’s case, Flex Builder 2 would take over 48 hours “for the warehouse to process” and that said download still requires them charging a minimum of $20 for “delivery”.

    I couldn’t make this stuff up. The Letter of Destruction was the craziest part. Given all the spyware built-in to Creative Suite and their willingness to disable pirated serial numbers (as is their right of course) why in hell would they require legitimate customers to fax back signed letters instead of just turning off that particular serial in their vast, vast database?

    I even actually got into it with their 3rd sales person whom was failing to assist me in regards to what a hideous CRM platform they must be running so that I could make sure to immediately steer my company away from it – obviously, he wasn’t permitted to say.

    Laziest. Monopoly. Ever.

  35. spamtasticus says:

    This does not surprise me. I had been trying to get Adobe to stop sending me 6 email updates a month for 4 years. No matter how dilligent I was and how much data I gave them they could seem to find the “Rogue” server spamming me. I even gave them the damn IP address. Long storry short. I ended up having to shut that server down myself “shhhhhh”.

  36. @azntg: I’m doing my best to stick with open-source and only with proprietary software that came bundled with my computer or hardware purchase.

    Which is fine if your industry/company/workflow doesn’t insist on experience with a particular piece of now-standard software that only one company makes.

    Unfortunately, Adobe has graphic artists, photographers, illustrators, and others locked into software that has no real equivalent in the open source world – argue that point if you will, but bloated as it is, there’s no way I could make my current workflow for fine art photography work with the GIMP or anything similar.

  37. azntg says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Why would I argue against it when you make a valid point? It’s a price to pay because of consolidation.

    Thankfully, I’m not part of an industry, company nor do I have a workflow per se. Just a personal user, although there is a distinct advantage with using Photoshop over GIMP, even for someone like me. There’s something with Adobe’s software that current open-source software cannot match.

  38. XianZhuXuande says:

    Wow… I didn’t even know you could do this in the first place. We were upgrading to CS3 Master Collection just a few days ago, and while reading on Adobe’s site it clearly states that only same-platform upgrades are possible. It may be that they have an internal policy which has not been fleshed out.

    Very disappointing, especially for a company like Adobe…

    Someone just needs to call him and make things right.

    That said, CS’s DRM is f***** up.

  39. madanthony says:


    That’s probably because you are on an educational license, which is a)not as draconian as the standard licenses and 2)usually administered by a third party.

    I work for a college that’s covered by a license agreement with a bunch of other Jesuit colleges, and haven’t had any problems (I end up doing all the ordering of Adobe software, mostly because I do our mac support and lots of our Adobe users are on Macs). The vendor we use is pretty helpful, probably because they want to keep our account.

    And as far as the Quark comments, I have had the fun of calling their support. If you really want to piss them off, tell them you didn’t get the registration number and ask them to read it again. Although it is an improvement from the days where Quark for PC required a physical hardware dongle that plugged into the parallel port – we used to hoard those things like gold.

  40. @madanthony: I’m the managing editor for a newspaper at a Jesuit university that just upgraded to Quark 7 (from Quark 5, aka the WORST release ever) through our vendor. It was hell. The vendor was great, but Quark is so ridiculously bad, and keeps terrible hours.

  41. TruPhan says:

    In defense of the operators, I too work in a call center and my phone literally only has two lines on it, and if I keep you on the line while I call on the other line, if a voicemail picks up or if the line keeps ringing, I cannot disconnect that line without disconnecting you too.

    Basically, I too have to put customers on hold on a daily basis when they say that’s not what they want, because the alternative is them being upset if the first number we try doesn’t work and I tell them, “Well, that number didn’t work, but I can’t try any more numbers since if I hang up on that one I hang up on you too. Just call us back again.” And of course, I have to say this over the second line ringing over and over again endlessly.

    LONG STORY SHORT: It’s just as annoying for us that we have to put you on hold too.

    BUT BESIDES THAT POINT: It is absolutely ridiculous that a supervisor wouldn’t give out her last name for accountability. Dawn was just trying to keep you from being a recurring problem of hers.

  42. dandd says:

    Just one more point for piracy. Just pirate CS2 and skip the whole licensing fiasco.

    As I’ve stated before piracy is bad, but when these companies make simple procedures such a hassle, piracy seems the only logical choice. I’ve had the same troubles with licenses and getting them transferred while some other people with pirated copies seem to have no troubles at all.

  43. justdan says:

    I had the same thing happen to me with Flash CS3! Ineptness abounds there.

  44. skilled1 says:

    You know how you solve this issue?


    They don’t want to do their job, you take the money from their hands.

  45. Ian S. says:

    I was not and would not advocate piracy, at least not at a professional level.

    I am however saying that it is ridiculous that it is less inconveniencing to illegally obtain the software, than it is to buy it. I’m no business expert, but I believe one of the most basic rules of any business is you need to make the purchasing and payment systems user friendly. If you’ve got a product I want, and I’ve got money for it in hand, that should be that. Making your customer do battle over the phones for hours (which by the way, how come Adobe doesn’t have better email support or technical help via a chat system?) over a basic purchase just inspires motivation to pirate software or switch to open source systems.

    Adobe is my bread-and-butter software manufacturer as I do graphic and web design, but my fiasco with them last year caused me to all but swear them off. Now, instead of advocating Adobe to fledgling designers, I suggest open source alternatives. Whenever my legit version of CS3 becomes obsolete, I’m likely to pursue open source alternatives or at least avoid the responsibility of having to be the one to obtain the software.

  46. Jay Levitt says:

    if I keep you on the line while I call on the other line, if a voicemail picks up or if the line keeps ringing, I cannot disconnect that line without disconnecting you too.

    @TruPhan: Tru – Thanks for the facts from the front lines. That said, these were switchboard operators, not call center reps, who couldn’t transfer me. But if their switchboard uses the same phones you do, I will humbly return one point to Adobe’s score here :)

    we’d switch from Photoshop to the Gimp, Illustrator to Inkscape, and no one should be using dreamweaver

    @Sean77: Truthfully, I’m a programmer, not an artist. From everything I read, when you need an actual professional workflow, you’re out of the GIMP’s league. I’ve seen countless discussions that go like this: “I use only Libre Software! Richard Stallman is a corporate sellout! I installed my GNU/Linux from source, from a scanned printout, after manually eating every page that did not contain the GPL! Oh, but yeah, I mean, you gotta use Photoshop. That’s a no-brainer.”

    Inkscape looks interesting, but is very young and is limited to X11. I do not believe you will find many professional graphics shops willing to add X11 into their workflow.

    As for DreamWeaver: Yes, nobody should use it. Real programmers use butterflies, too. But people DO use it, and a lot of the web would stop working if we took a time machine and erased its existence. Kinda like the opposite of FrontPage.

    (Plus, one of the reasons I want to install Dreamweaver is because there’s a very interesting CSS package from Eric Meyers – CSS Sculptor – that, so far, is only available as a DreamWeaver add-on.)

  47. sleze69 says:

    Wow. This is almost as bad as DRM. Navigating Adobe’s customer service is harder than illegally downloading the software. Why should one actually purchase the software when they have to put up with this crap? He could have had a fully functional (cracked) version through bittorrent weeks ago.

    I think put it perfectly with one of their phoney headlines:

    User actually purchases Photoshop.

    @sean77: Gimp. Yuck. Although it is very powerful, it is still not Photoshop.

  48. says:


    some guy just had a vision of a string of binary, and typed it out, and shared it on the internet…

    sure it turned out to be CS3

    but whos to say the guy just didn’t get lucky that the binary he typed out just didn’t happen to be the same thing?

  49. goodcow says:

    Just pirate the damn thing already.

    This is why activation and DRM are useless, all it does is screw legitimate customers while the pirates will just defeat the DRM anyway.

    I bought MacDrive 6, but after I found out it had to be “activated” over the net you can bet I won’t be buying MacDrive 7 if and when I need it.

  50. magus_melchior says:

    @Jay Levitt: Inkscape does have a functional Windows port. Maybe not on the level of Illustrator, but a great way to make SVG or PDF files. I think there’s a Mac port sitting someplace, but I haven’t bothered to look.

    Jay, as a programmer, you shouldn’t hesitate to dive into the CSS, HTML/ASP/PHP/etc. code when you’re building a site. I’ll admit that Dreamweaver and Photoshop do help to get the initial design pinned down, but learning the workings underneath should be more important to you.

    Yeah, sometimes it’s like clawing on an old blackboard to look at Javascript code…

  51. tcp100 says:

    So typical. Everyone explains how DRM only encumbers legit users, but nobody listens. I guess the other thing it does is make some beancounter sleep easier at night. It certainly does NOT stop pirates. Search any torrent site for CS3 – Search Results: Activation, Schmactivation.

    I just purchased Photoshop CS3, and I’ll have to say, the activation scheme is more annoying than WinXP/Vista (although MS doesn’t allow “deactivation”, which irks me.)

    I had to replace my laptop’s HD last week due to a wholly dead drive, and couldn’t predict the future well enough to remember to deactivate photoshop before the failure.

    Whaddayaknow, upon reinstall it wouldn’t reactivate – I guess swapping out my defective HD changed my machine ID (a la XP). Calling Adobe was a treat, really. They basically accused me of theft from the get go, saying “how can we be sure you aren’t just trying to install it on a third machine?” I wanted to say “Well, because if I intended to break the EULA I’d just go download a crack and have it running in five seconds?”.. I didn’t think that would go over well, so I went the “How dare you!” route. Seemed to work. 20 questions later they finally cleared out my activations.

    The only thing that Activation did was annoy the crap out of me after spending $OMG on Photoshop. I have half a mind to deactivate both my machines, file my legit copy away and install a cracked version so I don’t have to worry. I paid, now leave me alone and let me use your overpriced monopoly product in peace, Adobe.

  52. StevieD says:


    Putting this as an aside since someone mentioned bittorrent: Please don’t steal your software. When I was in college I worked for a small software company and I know how much time, money, and effort goes into producing it. Even at big companies like Adobe, it takes a lot to put out software. Please pay for it.

    Oh please, don’t you know this is The Consumerist, where everything should be cheap or free until it is money out of the poster’s personal pay check?

  53. HeartBurnKid says:

    They give us service like this, and they wonder why people pirate…

  54. raskolnik says:

    @StevieD: How would his downloading something he PAID FOR be stealing, exactly?

  55. Jay Levitt says:

    Agreed with many of the above: Please don’t pirate Adobe software – or any other software.

    If there’s competition, let the free market do its work.

    If there’s no competition, write a post like this, and let the free market do its work.

    But if you didn’t pay, you don’t get to complain. And what fun would that be?