Adobe Rejects Refund Request From Last Month Because You Exceeded Their 30-Day Money Back Guarantee. What?

Edwards tried to cancel his pre-order for Photoshop Elements 6 a month before the software shipped, but was told that he would need to accept the shipment, destroy the CD, and fill out an affidavit attesting to the destruction. Edward did as he was told, which is reflected in Adobe’s notes, but they still rejected his request claiming that he “exceeded their 30 day money back trial guarantee.”

Edward writes:

You may find it difficult to believe that a software giant like Adobe Systems has a customer service department that has no authority to actually correct Adobe’s mistakes, but they do.

I PRE-ORDERED, Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac in early January of this year. It was scheduled to begin shipping on March 15th. I found a Nikon product which was so good I decided to purchase it and then tried to cancel my pre-order for the Adobe software. Their web site did not show a way to do this, it only spoke of returns for already delivered merchandise. When I called their customer service in the middle of February they said that their computer screens showed no way to cancel a pre-order as all they could do is authorize returns and that required a serial number from the actual product received. They said I could wait for the product to be released then send it back to them for a refund stating I did not want it. Mind you this was after explaining to a person who spoke fairly broken English the concept of a Pre-order as opposed to merchandise that actually shipped when it was ordered.

This seemed a ridiculous policy, so off went a letter to their headquarters stating that I wanted to cancel this pre-order and felt it was a poor business design NOT to be able to cancel items which are not yet available for sale/delivery online or through CS. No response, but March 15th passed and my credit card did not show a charge. Then on March 26th they shipped the unwanted Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac which was received on April 1st, and charged my card for it. Called their Customer Service department and they apologized for this as their corporate office had indeed made a decision on my letter and informed whomever actually handles their shipments NOT to ship me this item when it was released a month later. That quite apparently DID show up on their computer system. The representative was very apologetic for their error and clearly said it was their mistake and that I would get a refund. I was directed to destroy the software disk and Fax their downloadable “certificate of software destruction” then a refund would be issued within two weeks. I actually destroyed the software as instructed and Faxed in the affidavit as instructed.

Today I received an email from Adobe systems saying my request for a refund was denied as it exceeded their 30 day money back trial guarantee (mind you it was not delivered until April 1st). I again called their customer service department and they basically said they had no control over refunds/returns and again apologized for their error. The Indian CR said he would forward my circumstances for review but id not say by who. At first he said I should get a refund after that but then admitted that he/they have no control or direct contact with the department which actually issues refunds/makes refund decisions (surprise surprise surprise). He then apologized for previous representative instructions which caused me to destroy my software and for not getting a refund for doing so as instructed.

Dealing with Adobe is an exercise in international futility and an education in todays corporate reality for customer service. Possibly I would have done better just asking for their CS department to face east and pray with me for enlightenment

I am filing a better business bureau complaint as well as a claim with my credit card company. Actually I doubt that the BBB will have any impact as am sure that Adobe must be very active in that agency in their home town.

Just wanted to vent and show how Adobe’s contracting out the customer relations/support/and billing department to India makes life very very difficult for their customers. There is virtually no way to speak with anyone with the power to actually make decisions when problems arise. What the reps say things like, “I will get a refund as it was their mistake” or “I must destroy the software then send in the downloadable form and a refund will be issued within two weeks” those statement carry no real weight and they do not seem to be bound by their statements.

Weird, and this experience totally surprised me.

The situation is ludicrous but easy to fix. Call your credit card and file a chargeback. In the future, if you receive instructions to destroy anything, it’s always a good idea to make a video. You know, for your records.

(Photo: FHKE)


Edit Your Comment

  1. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    “Possibly I would have done better just asking for their CS department to face east and pray with me for enlightenment”

    ^^^Not needed. ^^^

  2. Amelie says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: What a totally ignorant comment!

  3. RustysNailed says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: but hilarious

  4. SOhp101 says:

    I think choosing to file a chargeback is a much better idea, but can’t u just say that you don’t agree to the software terms & agreement contract? Those things typically say that if you don’t agree, return to the retailer that you purchased it from and you will get a refund.

  5. Balisong says:

    @RustysNailed: Not so much. Not going to bother reading the letter now.

  6. newlywed says:

    @ConsumerAdvocacy1010: i agree with you – totally not needed and i don’t feel sorry for this racist lameo who is just a sheep for following the directions to destroy in the first place.

  7. Balisong says:

    Oh noes, we be blamin’ teh victim!!!!!111eleventyone

  8. Falconfire says:

    Just a question? Why for a story about Adobe do we have a Apple image up?

  9. Mr_D says:

    Face east? If it was an Indian CS rep, he or she would have to face WEST.

    So victim, you are a racist lameo and a sheep for following directions. On the Consumerist, two wrongs DO make a right.

  10. nickripley says:

    The PC police are alive on Consumerist!

    Just because someone makes some sort of comment, even if a little on the side of tasteless, does not mean they are a racist. I bet you are the same people who get really upset about “smoking bans” in taverns, and stupid stuff like that. Get over yourself, you are clearly being judgmental, too, but your self-righteousness prevents you from noticing.

  11. Propaniac says:

    So is Adobe saying that the 30-Day guarantee begins when the product is ordered? They can’t possibly. If that is their assertion, why doesn’t the letter include a paragraph along the lines of “I pointed out to these people that it makes no sense to begin a 30-day guarantee from the order date, when that date could be more than 30 days before the product is even released. Their response was: …” But the next date mentioned is the product’s release date of March 15, which was less than thirty days ago.

  12. Captain Sassypants says:

    The Apple picture is because the customer purchased a product for his Mac.

    Also, I agree that “Edward” pointing out multiple times that he finds the ethnicity of Adobe’s CSRs problematic is totally inappropriate. Adobe definitely blew it in this case but it wasn’t because their CSRs aren’t white enough.

  13. shepd says:

    He isn’t racist, just (possibly) religiously supremacist (and uninformed, I do believe the majority of people from India are not Muslim). Which isn’t better, but totally different, and not unusual, considering that many religions spell out this sort of attitude in their scriptures.

    Commenting that shipping their customer service team to India is a bad idea is more of a fact (because, generally, outsourced service, apart from a few exceptions, leads to poorer quality) than a racist statement.

    Just saying…

  14. Ian S. says:

    Similar thing happened to me, but in my case it was canceling the Production pack that had been delayed 4 months for the sake of getting the Design pack upon launch. The CS I talked to when I made that decision even told me he could and had canceled the Production pre-order, and I then had the pleasure of spending somewhere around 15 hours fighting with other representatives trying to correct the matter. Never did fix itself, I had to receive the software, do a LOD, wait 5 weeks for a refund to arrive, and then they wouldn’t refund me shipping.

    Adobe sucks.

  15. DeafChick says:

    WTF is going on here? Ok we know most of the customer service centers are in other countries. Is is necessary for people to write “Broken English” or “Indian accent” etc?

  16. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @nickripley: All I said was the comment was ‘not needed.’ Nothing else. It doesn’t change or condone how Adobe handled the situation, but I felt he could have conveyed his message or frustration just as effectively if he left it out.

    That’s all. Have a nice day.

  17. modenastradale says:

    @nickripley: I’m not sure what you mean by “some sort of comment.” Is the idea that it’s OK to bash other people’s race, religion, sexuality, etc. so long as you do it in just a few words? That way, you still get to inject a bit of irrelevant hate into the discussion without being a bigot?

    I believe these “little” throwaway comments are very revealing about a person’s character and beliefs. The fact that someone is unable to write six paragraphs about customer service without straying off to bash someone else’s culture and religion says a lot about what motivates that sort of person.

  18. topgun says:

    I believe the self righteous are probably the first to bitch about outsourced jobs and not being able to understand the CSR.

  19. modenastradale says:

    @DeafChick: I don’t have a problem with observing that a company’s CSR’s can’t communicate in English, per se. I mean, you’re calling an 800 number they provided for customer support in North America, you know? I would think it just the same as if Adobe provided a customer service number in the Netherlands and the CSRs there couldn’t speak Dutch.

    However, as I said above, I think it’s deeply revealing when that kind of practical observation morphs into a jab at someone else’s culture and religion. That just reeks of pent-up bigotry.

  20. midwestkel says:

    Im sorry but there is no other photo editing software out there that is better than Photoshop. Maybe better than elements but if you are going to be a pro photog then you better have Photoshop.

  21. ab3i says:

    it is amusing that quite a significant number of people who has a problem with Customer Service try to point out the ‘outsourced/offshored’ CSR is part of the problem. as a technology strategy consultant who has done a lot of Service Desk Operations strategy work I can attest to the facts that: 1) Most companies, like Adobe, have very cryptic return/refund processes, and the CSR’s do not have much to do with it. More often than not, the CSR’s are limited in their ability to actually help the consumer in such scenarios.
    2) The businesses are going to offshore anyway, if not to India (as its getting expensive there), then to China, South Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia etc. etc. etc. It is a business decision and IMHO Indian’s have a much better control over the english language than some of the other offshore options.
    3) I am willing to wager that the subby was probably not very nice or courteous to the CSR’s in the first place. His displeasure at the CSR’s nationality/location is evident in this submission, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was evident in his ‘conversations’ as well. Guess what dude, those CSR’s are not morons- if you are not nice to them, they have no incentive to go out of their way to help you.
    4) It is also amusing that people assume that outsourcing leads to poorer quality of service, last i checked – even the CSR’s based in the US were not terribly helpful or all powerful.

  22. Dobernala says:

    Who will be the first to post an on-topic comment. Anybody? Or are we too worried about some silly statement someone made about Indian CS reps to pay attention to the matter at hand?

  23. uricmu says:

    Maybe this is a stupid question, but why would someone preorder an Adobe software? It’s not like there’ll be a shortage once the thing is out. It’s not a hyped thing.

    Also, based on what date did they tell him he’s over 30 days? The original preorder? It’s not even a month from March 15th.

  24. nequam says:

    @uricmu: Maybe there was a discount for pre-orders?

  25. bohemian says:

    This kind of hassle is doing nothing to lower the instance of pirated software. It is probably increasing it.

  26. asylum150 says:

    I went to Adobe’s website and clicked on their chat option and canceled my preorder on line.

  27. Tijil says:

    Why preorder from Adobe?

    (1) The pre-order discount, and
    (2) The desire to have the upcoming product as soon as possible since the previous version fails to work correctly with OS X 10.5.

    This is typical of Adobe Customer Service (no matter where located), but the additional disconnect from any form of reality is simply added to when the CSRs are on the opposite side of the planet, and out of habit make PROMISES in the company’s name that not only are untrue, but that there is no direct feedback to correct. (Is “Kevin” somewhere offshore going to be held accountable for providing poor customer service? Yeah, right.)

    Chargeback seems the only way out since the customer has already spent more than enough time trying to appease Adobe, and I seriously doubt he will find any form of intelligent life at the far end of the phone line capable of doing the right thing.

    (I am and have been an Adobe customer for decades, and dealing with Adobe on any level has never been a pleasure. In recent years it has gotten worse. Thing is, where else CAN one go – it is their market. *sigh* )


  28. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    Step 1: Sell customer product.
    Step 2: Inform customer to destroy product.
    Step 3: Deny refund


  29. azntg says:

    Adobe, get your f*cking act together.

  30. ZukNuff says:

    I’ve had to deal with Adobe’s Volume Licensing Division a couple of times regarding software licensing for my organization, and the experiences have been similar. Personally, I don’t care where the contact centre is located in the world as long as they are empowered to provide assistance, or at least redirect the request elsewhere when necessary.

    Adobe discontinues making the licenses of older products available once a new product is released (a common practice) and our organization was still using an older version for production purposes that would be required for at least another year and a half. In order to remain in license compliance we had to downgrade the new licenses purchased into the older versions, and trying to get this completed with their contact centre was an exercise in futility. Aside from dropped calls, a ticketing system that apparently doesn’t have records of any useful information, and a shocking inability to understand their own volume licensing agreements – On two occasions, they told us it would be simpler for everyone involved if we just ignored the licensing requirements and take our chances that we wouldn’t run into any problems.

    When asked to provide this in writing the Adobe Rep. indicated this wasn’t possible, and when I pressed him to provide more details he indicated that his department didn’t have any accessible email access. They also didn’t have faxing capability, outbound calling, carrier pigeons, or any managers or alternate contacts that I could speak with.

    *Special* isn’t the word when it comes to Adobe’s Customer Service…

  31. Kishi says:

    In the future, if you receive instructions to destroy anything, it’s always a good idea to make a video. You know, for your records.

    Also, do it in an entertaining manner, so you can upload it to Youtube.

  32. j3s says:

    A few, brief suggestions when placing pre-orders or finding yourself in a similar situation as Edward:

    1. If you have the ability to, place the initial pre-order with a virtual/one-time use credit card #. Set the expiration date to be the point at which you would either no longer want the product, or would purchase it elsewhere, if the release or shipment were to be delayed. If you end up having problems canceling your pre-order, spend all of 5 seconds canceling the virtual card instead.

    2. If a CSR tells you that you “can’t cancel” a pre-order, call your credit card company, explain the situation, and tell them that you no longer want to authorise any charges from the merchant in question. Not all card companies go for this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    3. When faced with some inane policy like this, skip the whole “trying to talk sense into outsourced customer service” routine, and call domestic, corporate HQ instead. You’ll have a much better chance at reaching someone who will both understand the idiocy of the situation, and be able to do something about it.

    4. When all else fails… chargeback, chargeback, chargeback!

  33. LUV2CattleCall says:

    Next time, take the money you’re about to spend and just charter a boat to the Pirate Bay…

  34. RokMartian says:

    @Tijil: You are correct – I see no reason to ever pre-order software. I’ve spent quite a bit of money on Adobe this past year, but I waited until it was released. I’ll let the early adopters find all the problems first.

  35. sgodun says:

    @Falconfire: Same question I had.

  36. richcreamerybutter says:

    @DeafChick: I do think there;s an added level of frustration when communication barriers are added, especially if your case involves having to call back and explain the situation to another rep. There are also Easter-Western vernacular issues that almost necessitate scripting it out neutrally.

  37. roadapples says:

    This is the classic “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”. They should include a free bottle of Tylenol with there products, for preventative maintenance.

  38. cerbie says:

    @Captain Sassypants: not white enough? How about not domestic enough. On top of, of course, having CSRs in the first place, when they can’t offer service to customers. Nobody wins. Except maybe Adobe, because they basically own the market…damn. Edward was probably OK with them at first, but then…

    @roadapples: I think the right hand wants the left hand to keep the money in the pile, even though the left hand is supposed to offer a refund :). Like denying rebates, but cooler.

    Given how hard it is just to find an address on their website, I’d almost believe they want everything but the initial ordering to be difficult…


    @ZukNuff: no carrier pidgeons? Barbarians!

    Would an AG be of any help?

  39. BrockBrockman says:

    Lesson learned here today, folks?

    Bigots don’t deserve good customer service; and should be screwed over on the consumer-level without recourse or remorse.

  40. Zervas says:

    Adobe has almost nothing to do with their sales, CS or TS department. It’s outsourced and poorly so.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I am having a similar issue with Adobe. I tried to resolve a return issue last month, right after my computer crashed(borrowed one for this writing), and they have no record of it, so now my product CS4 is 2 months old and they wont accept a return. it is unopened, still in the cellophane packaging. Plus, I never did get the free shipping they promised. Does anyone know where Adobe’s corporate headquarters is or their CEO? it is frustrating that such a large, well-known company has such poor customer relations.