Adobe Blames Missing Shipment On Customer For Using The Online Store

Amy launched an EECB to Adobe, after her $2600 worth of software failed to ship on time. Or at all. No one at Adobe customer service can tell her why it didn’t ship, or if it ever will, but one CSR suggested it was her fault for ordering through the online store rather than through a sales rep. He says no one tracks the orders on the online store, which makes absolutely no sense. What’s the point in having an online store if no one fills the orders? Why the tease, Adobe? Check out her EECB inside.

Dear Adobe,

I am writing to you today because the normal customer service channels have failed me, and I believe that this issue is a systemic problem in your ordering system, and perhaps may be the reason why recent reports state that 60% of Adobe products are pirated…because Adobe cannot ship products to paying customers!

On April 14, 2008, I ordered 3 copies of Adobe CS3, (2 copies of Design Premium Upgrade and 1 copy of Production Premium, Full Installation, as well as 2 manuals), using the Adobe Online store. At the time I placed the order, I was advised that the order should arrive around April 21, 2008. April 21 came and went with still no software, so I submitted a question to the online Customer Service Portal. Unfortunately the folks there were of no help as the only thing they could tell me was that I had not received my order because it had not yet been shipped (duh!). They were unable to tell me why my order had not shipped, or when it might ship, only that it had not shipped.

I next tried your customer service phone number, and while each of the representatives was able to see my order, they were unable to determine why the order had not been shipped. Several suggested that I cancel the current order and try again in the hopes that it would fix the problem, although no one could identify what the problem actually was, so in theory resubmitting an order would land me in the same spot, waiting for two more weeks with no software.

Last night I spoke with a customer service representative named Jason who said that I was responsible for the problem because I ordered from the Adobe Online store, and that those orders are not tracked by a sales person. I don’t need the order to be tracked, I just want the software that I ordered to be sent to me. If your online system doesn’t work, why do you have it? He said that he would call me back this morning after he did some more digging into the problem, but it is now after 4 pm, and I have not yet received a return phone call. (Incidentally I just called again to give your folks one more chance, but still, they could give me no assurances that I was any closer to getting my software than I was 2 weeks ago.)

The reason for writing this letter is simple, I would like you to ship my order to me immediately and as there have been issues on Adobe’s end that have delayed receipt of the software for almost a week and a half. In addition, I would kindly request that you send the order to me overnight at no additional charge. In exchange, feel free to charge my credit card the $2679.95 that you are due. Should you have any questions, or need any further information, please feel free to contact me via E-mail or at the number below.


So now we know, the CSR version of “did you turn it off and on again?” is “did you cancel the order and place it again?” Then again, power-cycling occasionally works, whereas there’s no reason an order damned to limbo once won’t be sent there again. And anyway, who wants to wait two weeks to find out? Since Amy’s card hasn’t been charged, it might be time to cancel the order and start looking somewhere else or from someone else. It shouldn’t be this hard to not steal a product.

(photo:Jenna Belle)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Parting says:

    And then they wonder why pirating prospers.

    Pay 3K and get nothing.

    Or get something for nothing.

    It very, very sad.

  2. mantari says:

    Sounds like the sales rep just wanted a crack at sales he was missing. “No, no. Don’t order that new car online. Here, come into the dealership and see what I can do for you!”

  3. Imaginary_Friend says:

    “Since Amy’s card hasn’t been charged, it might be time to cancel the order and start looking somewhere else or from someone else.”

    Thank you, Theresa. Truer words were never spoken.

    Amy should give Amazon a try, or if she’s .edu eligible. She’ll pay less and get much better customer service.

    Amy, if you insist on dealing with Adobe, try posting a comment on John Nack’s blog. He seems to love the attention:


  4. @Victo: It’s quite sad that some people seem to think that a delayed order is justification to steal software.

  5. Lambasted says:

    Huh? I am starting to think some people go out of their way to be a victim.

    She orders online and her order didn’t go through. Her card wasn’t charged so she wasn’t out any money. Customer service gives her advice to cancel the order and try again. Instead of following that advice, she “theorizes” that its just better to wait two weeks for someone to get back to her. When they don’t, it’s more calls, more letters. Then she’s mad because they wasted her time. She goes through all of this instead of canceling her order and buying the software somewhere else. End result: She wasted her own time.

    Perhaps I missed it but I did not read any compelling reason why she had to use that particular site to purchase her software when there are a zillion other places to get it. It’s not like they took her money and were holding onto it; they hadn’t even charged her yet.

    Really. What’s the complaint here? If a store has online ordering issues, I take my money and buy elsewhere. Or I call customer service and order over the phone.

  6. sprocket79 says:

    Amy – I know you’re pissed, but if you still want to get your software, try buying through Volume Licensing at Adobe. You’ll end up saving some money because of the amount you’re buying. Plus, upgrading volume licenses tends to be easier.

    Just a hint from someone who’s been there.

  7. sprocket79 says:

    @Lambasted:I agree. I think she probably didn’t complete the order on the web site, which is why they can’t track it and why her card hasn’t been charged. From experience, I know Adobe charges when the product ships, not when the order is placed. If it’s been this long, then she needs to try again. It’s not like she was charged and didn’t get it.

  8. Lambasted says:

    @sprocket79: Yep, most sites don’t charge until they ship giving a customer the option of canceling if they don’t to wait any longer.

    Several times I’ve ordered an out-of-stock, backorder item with the promise of ship date. And several times, I have been left waiting because the item was never shipped. Oh well, they didn’t charge my card so other than being disappointed at not getting the merchandise I wanted, no harm, no foul. I do not write Consumerist to blast the company for not sending me that lovely blouse I so wanted to wear.

  9. camman68 says:

    Are you serious? Multiple Customer Service Reps can see the order but none of them know why it wasn’t processed. You are blaming her because “she probably didn’t complete the order on the web site”? If that was the case, shouldn’t someone at Adobe be able to see this?

    Either they have a crappy online ordering system or their reps need additional training (or BOTH). Either way, I personally wouldn’t authorize them to take ANOTHER $2,600 from my credit card. Based on her experience to date, why should she assume that their Sales reps are any more competent than their Customer Service reps or their online system?

  10. brentholio says:

    It’s well known. Macromedia’s customer service was good. Once Adobe took over it went right down the toilet. My own experiences have been ridiculous. I’m not surprised at all.

  11. Parting says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: I don’t say it’s justification. Only when you pay 2600$ for a product, you should get customer service with it. Not ”you’re an idiot for ordering online” message.

    Most people will find alternatives to the product, by going to different brands.

    And some with just find a pirate copy, so they can make the schedule, since the legal copy never arrived on time.

  12. Parting says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: The best example is Google Docs. If you have access to internet, it’s similar to Microsoft Office, but more efficient, and with better user support.

    When an offline version will appear, users like me, will favor it over Microsoft’s, because we have access to good online customer service. Something Microsoft lacks.

  13. Christopher says:

    To everyone who says she should have just redone the order, think of it like this:

    Say you’re at a grocery store, and you go up to a cashier with your cart full of groceries. The cashier then proceeds to ring up your cart, and only after scanning everything, says “Oh, whoops! I don’t know how to complete your purchase, nor am I willing to get anyone over here to show me how to complete your purchase! Don’t worry, I’ll just put everything back into your cart and you’ll have to go to the wait in line again for that cashier over there and try again. There’s even a slight chance that the other casher can’t complete the transaction, too. Sorry!”

    Would you not be pissed? And that’s just for a cart full of groceries, this is for a $2,600 order, something Adobe should not take so lightly.

  14. Chongo says:

    @Lambasted: Some people in the biz NEED this software ASAP. So even though she has not been charged, she was still expecting it. What if she has deadlines?

    I know from experience in the design industry you need to be as current as possible with your software or else you look like a fool when you go back to your client and say “Hey, can you save that in legacy format?” and thats IF there even is an option to save down (cough cough indesign cough)

    Time is money for some ya’ll

  15. mikells43 says:

    i have the cs3 extended crack file if you are intrested. that makes the 1200 prog… absolutly free;)

  16. quixiotic says:

    When I bought Photoshop CS2 from Adobe on their online store I was and still am able to download it from adobe should I ever need it. I don’t know if it was an option I clicked for that benefit but it should be available for Amy.

  17. BugMeNot2 says:

    @Victo: If you actually read the letter, you’d realize she didn’t pay nearly $3k. She didn’t pay a single cent! Her card was never charged.

  18. JeffMc says:

    If the order is in the system I can see why she’d be hesitant to place another one.

    Would anyone on here be surprised if the day after she canceled and reordered they decided to fill the original order and ended up charging her double?

  19. ExGC says:

    Irrespective of whether or not she should just cancel and reorder, this type of thing is consistent with my experience with Adobe.

    I downloaded a trial copy of Acrobat Professional and, just before its expiration, they sent me a 15% off online coupon.

    I went online to order it and the coupon didn’t work. I called customer service and got passed from CS to Sales to Online Sales. Sales was extremely helpful and offered the 15% discount, but would have to ship the product. I was out of town and wanted it for a project I was working on so I said no, hoping to get either a license key to activate my trial copy or a new download. Online sales said that they couldn’t help me – the coupon failure was a technical problem and not their issue. They could not provide me with anything other than a full price download. I had to talk to Customer Service.

    After each of the different departments sent me back and forth among each other several times – all disavowing ownership of the issue – I went to Amazon and bought it retail, for slightly less than Adobe was offering with the coupon, but had to wait for shipment.

    The interesting thing is that two different guys in Sales told me that they would transfer me to Online Sales, because it was their area, but that I was unlikely to get what I wanted. In their experience every customer who dealt with Online Sales ended up dissatisfied.

  20. Syd says:

    Hmm, we got the Abode CS3 Master Collection for $500 (CDW-G had a deal for university employees). And we got it in two days.

    But you would think that with that kind of markup, Adobe would do everything to NOT lose a sale.

  21. davere says:

    I’m just trying to figure out what Apple device is on the picture.

  22. chrisjames says:

    @CBragg: We would all be pissed, but that doesn’t fix anything. Her only options are to cancel the order and place it again, or take her business elsewhere, because the Adobe CSRs are unwilling to do anything else to help her. It’s reasonable to assume that it could happen again, but you accept that risk when faced with a need. Bringing all of this to the attention of corporate and the Consumerist is secondary to that, but another step in the right direction.

    @Chongo: The customer’s need is not enough to get a company to react, especially not CSRs. They couldn’t care less about anyone’s need, and rightfully so. You must compensate yourself for your need. Place orders early, through proper businesses and proper channels, and follow up regularly and aggressively to make sure the product is delivered as ordered and on time. Be prepared to pay extra for premium service; that’s business.

  23. shocker says:

    Why shouldn’t she just cancel the order and re-order from a CSR?

    Because if the CSR’s can’t determine why the original order hasn’t shipped, what’s there to inspire any confidence in Amy that they’ll be able to cancel it and stop it from eventually shipping?

  24. TPS Reporter says:

    Either some people on here are getting desensitized or have no intention of sticking up for the OP no matter what. Because if I place an order with Adobe itself for Adobe software, and the order is in the system, the stuff is in stock, I would complain also. Now granted I would call the CS number and order it over the phone after I cancelled the online order, but I would still complain.

  25. Imafish says:

    “It’s quite sad that some people seem to think that a delayed order is justification to steal software.”

    Nobody is justifying anything. They’re merely pointing out the fact that you are infinitely more likely to get the product from P2P or bittorrent than by actually buying the product legitimately.

    And one last thing, infringing copyright is not stealing. DOWLING v. UNITED STATES, 473 U.S. 207 (1985)

  26. bandia says:

    CSR Jason must be a Consumerist commenter – he’s got that “blame the victim” thing down pat.


  27. sysak says:

    I work in an online store, and I know that a simple phone call from the sales rep to shipping could have solved the problem within minutes. It happens once in a while, someone skips over an order by accident.

  28. Mr. Gunn says:

    Lambasted: So what if Adobe failed to cancel the order and suddenly charged her for both?

    If it’s important enough to pay thousands of dollars for, it’s important enough to pirate a copy and let them charge you on their own time, while you get back to work.

  29. HeartBurnKid says:

    This is the landscape these days. Companies treat their customers like adversaries, and then they wonder why customers do things like steal software and music. Well, duh.

    I’m not saying it’s justified, but I understand.

  30. HeartBurnKid says:

    @HeartBurnKid: And stealing is a bad choice of words there. Damnit, all the people who talk about “piracy is theft!” have wormed their way into my head…

  31. Norskman says:

    @Lambasted: I can’t believe you’re actually accusing this woman of being at fault here. Your suggestion that she should go somewhere else makes no sense. She is trying to order software from the software maker itself…The creator of the software…the people who wrote the damn thing and are selling it…

    There’s a reason they have an online ordering system. It’s so you can order your software…from them…online…

    Why on earth would she re-submit the order? If I was in the same situation I would suspect that Adobe would charge me twice IF the order went through in the first place. If they can’t find out why an order has not completed and shipped I have no faith that they would figure out why I was charged twice when following their suggestion.

    Bottom line Adobe is making it hard, if not near impossible, to spend money buying their software directly from their online store.

  32. jasonm says:

    Hi Amy,

    My name is Jason* McClelland, and I’m a business development manager for Adobe’s online stores. I just came across this posting through Google’s blog search alerts, and I’m very sorry to hear about your troubles.

    Though I’m currently out on paternity leave, if you want to send some of your order details (Adobe ID/e-mail address you registered with, date of order, contents of order) to me at jasonm”AT”adobe”DOT”com, I can have the right people look into this and let you know what’s going on.



    *ps- I’m not a phone guy, so not the same Jason you already spoke with. :)

  33. brettt says:

    for something that expensive, Adobe should be taking this more seriously.

    Can’t she just download the trial and purchase a license, though???????? That’s instantaneous.

  34. davidc says:

    @Lambasted: Perhaps I missed it but I did not read any compelling reason why she had to use that particular site to purchase her software

    If you can buy software directly from the manufacturer, that is the safest route to go for many reasons. None of which I should have to spell out to savvy consumerist readers.

  35. JennaBelle says:

    @ davere
    it’s an old Apple CRT (matched the tower, not sure what model/year) that I was given for free to use as a second monitor. It has since died.

  36. j4sk868 says:

    Adobe only cares about huge mass licencing. They most likely look at the “small orders” like they are doing you a favor. if it not for a bussiness and u dont run the risk of getting audited, pirate that stuff. adobe makes their security weak so there shit runs better. they know the big companys will pay. so the little guys go out and pirate it.

  37. trujunglist says:

    The reason Adobe software is pirated is because it’s ridiculously priced and most people that use it are teenagers or in their 20s, not because you can’t get legit copies.

  38. jimv2000 says:

    Um, doesn’t Adobe have an immediate download option on their site?

    Ok, I just looked. There’s a little pulldown menu for delivery method where you can choose download or shipping. So why didn’t she just go for the download and then not pay shipping and have her software in a few hours?

  39. jimv2000 says:


    “They’re merely pointing out the fact that you are infinitely more likely to get the product from P2P or bittorrent than by actually buying the product legitimately.”

    What!? How can you be “infinitely more likely” to get a program by downloading some hacked up version instead of going and downloading it from the company or going and buying a cd? Have you ever used bittorrent? It’s about a 15% chance that the torrent will actually work (enough seeds), be in your language and that the keygen won’t be a virus. Whereas I can go to Adobe’s site, buy the exact product that I need, click the download option for the delivery method, and be assured that I will have my software in about 20 minutes.

    Or I can go to a store and buy the said product and have a CD and the manual and all that good stuff.

    Plus it’s legal to buy, and downloading via torrents is not.

  40. chrisjames says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Customers treat the companies like adversaries as well, and then wonder pretty much the same thing. Business is a two-way street.

  41. thalia says:

    Hon, this is when you cancel the order and just pirate the damn software. I mean, you’d think they’d be pissing their pants at the thought of someone actually willing to pay for it, and they’ve treated you like dirt. No wonder nobody feels like paying for that stuff.

  42. matto says:

    Adobe is the single case where I’d actively advocate software piracy. I have never had to work with a more customer-hostile company. They have successfully made it so difficult for me to purchase, install, and activate their products that I now have zero qualms about simply stealing it.

  43. Rachacha says:

    @jimv2000: There are couple of reasons why downloading may not be a viable option:
    1) The compressed download is almost 15GB, which puts you at about 5-10+ hours of download (assuming your ISP doesn’t throttle your bandwidth) (even longer in this case as the author ordered 2 upgrades and 1 new install of a different version of CS3)
    2) You don’t get the manuals with a download
    3) You need to burn your own physical media for backup purposes (so hopefully your uncompressed downloads are “pure” and you get a good burn incase you need to re-install at a later date.

    Would a download really help in this case either? Adobe would still need to process the order to send 3 licences. I am assuming (based on the letter) that they were having trouble processing the order, so it is questionable whether they would be able to process a license either, so after spending 20-30 hours downloading, you still don’t have software that you can use beyond the 30 day trial period.

  44. Lambasted says:


    I say again to all of you:

    It was her fault for not canceling her order and buying elsewhere. If you want to put yourself in a position to be taken advantage of then it’s your fault and problem when that endeavor is a success.

    While “savvy” consumers are waiting two weeks to be ignored, the rest of us have purchased our software elsewhere and moved on with our lives.

    I will not play the “what if” game. I live life in reality not supposition.

    Man, I really have laugh at the inability of some people to think themselves out of a situation. It boggles my mind.

  45. the_wiggle says:

    @camman68: BOTH. way past time for a chargeback.

  46. amelia35 says:

    OK, I’ve enjoyed the back and forth about my situation, but now it’s time to put all the questions and critics to rest.

    Lambasted – I don’t consider myself a “victim” but I did receive crummy customer service. Sending the EECB seemed to be a good way to get a response, and it worked (more on that later.) And why didn’t I cancel the order? Well, they couldn’t actually guarantee that they’d be able to cancel the order because they couldn’t access all the details about the problem that was holding it up (and the CSRs apparently can’t do refunds – that has to go through sales which is a whole other department. In fact, it was the sales department that told me I shouldn’t have used the online ordering system so I had little faith in them to begin with.). Cancelling the order was only something they offered to try that “might” solve the problem. They even admitted there was a pretty good chance my card would end up getting charged twice if I cancelled the first order and made a new one. With about a 50/50 shot of success, I decided to stay the course.

    For those suggesting piracy – Why didn’t I choose that route? That may be a workable option for a casual user, but this was a corporate purchase, so not only do I not want to deal with potential technical problems that exist with an unauthorized copy but I’d prefer to not lose my job for using illegal software.

    So, the good news is after sending the EECB, magically, someone was able to figure out the problem! Apparently there was an error when the card was processed – and no, it wasn’t because my card was bad. After the error occurred, apparently the order just sat around waiting for someone to pay attention to it. (“It’s an automated system,” I was told, “when there are errors no one checks on those kinds of things.”) But still, I have to wonder why my numerous calls did not prompt someone to dig deep enough to find the problem this person ultimately found. I’m sure she was no extra special genius – she probably just took enough time to look beyond the scripted answers in the CSR manual. Lo and behold, when someone was serious about finding out the problem they were able to process the card again and it went through just fine. Amazing.

    To Adobe’s credit, they did ultimately refund the expedited shipping I had paid, and called to apologize after FINALLY shipping the items, although the call didn’t start out very much like an apology because the woman tried to again blame it on the computer – apparently no humans were responsible for my order slipping through the cracks even though I had called multiple times to get them to investigate the problem. She ultimately did apologize quite thoroughly and provided me with her contact info should I encounter future problems.

    All I have to say is it’s a shame it took more than two weeks and writing to every Adobe board member, PR person and the Consumerist to get someone interested in actually figuring out why my order was stalled.

  47. Smd75 says:

    Who did you send this to?