Adobe: "It Would Have Been A Pleasure To Assist You With This Issue. [Unfortunately, We're Totally Incompetent]"

If you produced expensive, frequently pirated software, you’d probably want the process for buying it to be as easy on the customer as possible, right? If you’re Adobe, not so much. Yet another reader writes in to share her frustrations with trying to buy Adobe’s Dreamweaver.

Our reader writes:

About three weeks ago now, I went to to buy a copy of Dreamweaver CS3 online, as I couldn’t find one locally. As I have Adobe CS2 Premium, I qualified to buy the version that is the upgrade from GoLive to Dreamweaver. So I find this version on their store, add to cart, and buy it.

Problem #1 – While most other versions of Dreamweaver are available as downloads, this one, inexplicably, is not. I’m told it will be shipped in about a week. As I had a trial version of Dreamweaver CS3 installed already, I contacted their live chat system and asked if the serial number could be sent via email or something in advance, so I could get to work. No can do.

I wait – and a week later, the box arrives. I tried the serial number received on the trial version at first. Problem #2 – It cannot find my Adobe CS2 (to verify I qualify for upgrade) even though that had been installed in the standard, default directory. So it asks me to enter the Dreamweaver CS3 serial number, then pick what version I’m upgrading from, and enter the GoLive serial number.

Problem #3 – It tells me the serial number I’m putting in does not match the product I’m upgrading from. This in spite of the fact I copied and pasted it directly from Go Live’s help menu, and also tried typing it in manually several times. (The only thing I can figure, in retrospect, is that since my choices were upgrading from GoLive 6.0, GoLive CS, or GoLive CS2, the fact that I have CS2 Premium was the issue). I tried uninstalling the trial and installing fresh from the CD, but got the same issue.

I surf over to Adobe’s customer support portal, which promises an answer in one business day. I have to register first, of course (grr), but I submit a ticket with all the appropriate information first thing on a Thursday morning.

The following *Tuesday* (six calendar days, four business days later), I get this gem (emphasis added):

Hello ________,

Thank you for contacting Adobe Customer Service.

Due to the Support Portal being closed on weekends [?!], we were unable to
respond to your e-mail. We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may
have caused and appreciate your patience.

________, I understand that you purchased the upgrade version of
Dreamweaver CS3 (serial number). As you already had the
trial version of CS3 installed, you took the serial number from the box
that arrived and put it in. It accepted that, but then asked you to
verify that you was eligible to upgrade. You went to your copy of GoLive
CS2, and copied the Serial Number directly out of Help>System Info and
pasted that in to the CS3 dialogue, but it is telling you that the
GoLive CS2 number does not match what you have selected. You tried
selecting Go Live 6.0, GoLive CS and GoLive CS2 and it does not allow
you to proceed under any circumstances.

I understand your concern with this issue and apologize for the
inconvenience caused.

It would have been a pleasure to assist you with this issue. In this
regard, I would request you to contact Adobe Customer Service phone
support at 1 (800) 833-6687 from 6:00am to 8:00pm, PT, 7 days a week.
This is not an issue that can be resolved through this portal and they
are best equipped to handle such issues. They will provide you step by
step assistance through this issue…”

Problem #4: It’s taken their customer service portal nearly a week to tell me … they can’t provide any customer service.

I grit my teeth and call the 1800 number. I called at 11:45 EST, and after the first five minutes, put the phone on hands free, so I could at least work while I listen to the dreadful hold music. I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And at precisely 1:07 EST… I was … disconnected.

As I’ve had this happen after lengthy hold times with other companies, I suspect this some sort of slate-clearing standard procedure.

I write into the portal, politely, but firmly, to complain about this, and request that one of their reps call ME instead. I suggested that since I’d been waiting a week’s shipping time, six days “customer service portal” time, and an hour and 20 minutes hold time to get what should have been a straightforward purchase, that they had a deadline of the following Monday to get it sorted.

I get:

“Hello _______,

Thank you for contacting Adobe Customer Service.

_______, thank you for your reply.

I understand your concern with this issue and apologize for the
inconvenience caused.

It would have been a pleasure to assist you with this issue. In this
regard, I would request you to contact Adobe Customer Service phone
support at 1 (800) 833-6687 from 6:00am to 8:00pm, PT, 7 days a week.
This is not an issue that can be resolved through this portal and they
are best equipped to handle such issues. They will provide you step by
step assistance through this issue…”

So here I am. Please warn your readers (again) to stay away from Adobe; meanwhile, I’m off to issue a chargeback request to my credit card company, and to shop for something else.

We’ve written about Adobe not being able to actually sell its software before. Twice. These stories are only a fraction of the complaints we get about Adobe. Adobe, if you wonder why your software is so popular on bittorrent, here’s one reason: Even the people who want to buy it can’t get it from you. Here are some email addresses for Adobe’s executives, hopefully they can help:,,,,,,,,,,,,

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Necoras says:

    When DRM is in the way, Bittorrent FTW!

  2. timmus says:

    I would really like to see Consumerist go back to its roots and try to rattle the cage of corporate offices regularly, rather than just being a conduit for front page news. I wonder what Adobe would have said about this. Not that I’m defending them… I wasted $250 buying Adobe InDesign CS3 only to find it had an Orwellian activation scheme, so I went back to PageMaker.

  3. acasto says:

    I’ve decided, I’m going to start a new hospice therapy service. What I’ll do is go around to hospice centers, go over people’s situations, and find issues in which they’ll need to contact a customer support center. If no such issues exist, and there is time, we can provide them with a Capital One credit card, or get them an HP laptop with Vista and some Adobe software. Anyways, after getting disconnected six times, talking to two males who could care a less, one male who could care a less and is down right rude, two females who kind of sound like they want to help if only they had any idea what you were talking about, having to call back each time because the previous person lied to you to get you off the line, having to hear the next time that you are the liar…. well, dying just won’t seem so bad.

  4. wickedpixel says:

    here’s my recommendation:

    you paid for it so I wouldn’t have any qualms about a little pirate action.

  5. kamel5547 says:

    I think one key problem is that you are cut and pasting the serial from the Help menu. Adobe DOES NOT list the full serial there. This is an attempt to reduce piracy (I believe). Anyhow it has been years since the displayed serial was valid. (makes it terrible for licensing compliance purposes).

    You can dig the serial out of the registry for most adobe programs though if you can’t find the original. You may ahve to google for the location for this particular item as we’ve never used this product at work.

    Adobe’s CS is terrible though…. I pretty much refuse to purchase their product if I can find an alternative that works (works well for avoiding Acrobat ‘Pro’).

  6. kurtisnelson says:

    From my personal experience:
    I am trying to install trial X, and it keeps complaining about the licensing system not starting.
    Oh, sorry you can’t get the trial working. Why don’t you buy the full product and then we will help you?
    My response: Why would I purposely buy a broken product?
    There is nothing wrong with our product, your system might not be compatible.
    (note I am running nothing odd)
    Off to bittorrent I go…

  7. The customer got disconnected once and gave up. I just don’t know about this one.

    Yes, Adobe’s customer service sucks. Yes, they disconnected her.

    But these problems are pretty common: Bad email customer service. Very typical. Long hold times. Typical. Getting disconnected. It happens.

    If the customer had tried again and got disconnected again, then that would be one thing. But… methinks the customer had a low threshold for typical customer service issues. Writing to email support and requesting a call back?

    I don’t know about this one. Sometimes Consumerist post complaints that are pretty lame…

  8. B. Whaler says:

    Adobe is the Microsoft of the design space. Sad, but true.

    The hostile attitude towards paying customers and terrible quality is catching-up with them.

    Sure, just like Microsoft they think the market share is too dominant and their products are too complicated for the open source crows. “And don’t forget the plug-ins” they fool themselves.

    Yes, we use Adobe products. There is not a lot of alternatives. But give the open source crowd and Apple a few more years, and I am sure we will pull Adobe off our vendor list just like we did Microsoft this year.

  9. whorfin says:

    Hiya…Just a little bit of info, your EECB email list includes several people who haven’t been at adobe for years.

  10. Also, I think the OP may not have much luck with that chargeback. She got the software. What is she charging back? Most credit cards do not get involved in these kind of issues (“quality of merchandise”).

    Anyway, I’m sure Adobe will contact her now and all will be well…

  11. Anon-AdobeTech says:

    See my name listed for a description of who I certainly am not a (former) one of, so here’s few comments as to the problems listed there.

    First, as per kamel5547, the full serial is *not* listed in the help menu, which is one of the reasons why the serial number there was not accepted.

    Secondly, upgrading from a Suite to a single product is *not* a valid upgrade path for any product, I.E. having Golive CS2 as part of the suite will not allow you to upgrade to Dreamweaver CS3. Also not commenting on the policy behind this, just saying that’s the way it is. Considering you were unaware of this, you may be able to actually call in to their tech support and they may be able to help you. (8006423623).

    Also, in re: problem #2. Yeah, current versions of our installers are crap. This is well known and has even, heh, been publicly admitted by some of our sorta-PR people, for example John Nack. That’s one of the things that got poorly done when trying to integrate Macromedia stuff. Vastly improved in CS4, at least functionally, if that’s any consolation.

    Finally, as far as the email team telling you to call the phone team… Well, the email team is overworked and gets to things as fast as they can, honestly. Yeah, I know, get a bigger email team. But the reason for telling you to contact the phone team could be one of two. Either one) they’re gonna tell you what I mentioned earlier, namely that Suite -> CS3 single app is not a valid upgrade path, or two) they’re gonna “unlock” it for you so you can install it anyway. Doing this requires you reading a code from a semi-hidden screen in the registration dialog to us, and us generating a code and sending it back to you. The code from the screen is system specific, and the code we send back is time sensitive (~15 minutes) so obviously that can’t be done over the email system.

    As far as the actual calling in… yeah, customer service is in Mumbai, it sucks, it wasn’t much better than when it was in the US. If you call into the tech line you’ll get somebody in the US, though, and they may help you. Most of them *are* fairly willing to help.

  12. Anon-AdobeTech says:

    In other news, the activation system is getting noticeably less evil/annoying in the next version, namely CS4… See Acrobat 9 for more details. ;-)

  13. jjason82 says:

    Yet another reason just to pirate the software. Not only do I not have to pay for it, the nice pirates often remove the nasty DRM and make it much easier to install as well. It’s a win-win.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    @B. Whaler: Well, in comparison to MS, their support is horrible. But their products are amazing. Powerful, elegant, the gold standard.
    MS only dreams that their products were held in the same esteem in their space that Adobe is in theirs.
    That said, Adobe, please get your subpar support together. I can see how it drives people to piracy, which can’t be a very promising business plan.

  15. @jjason82: The nice pirates often remove the nasty DRM and make it much easier to install as well. It’s a win-win.

    This logic is so sad but true. Microsoft provided a XP license for my work machine, right? I had to activate it over the phone because they didn’t like my dual-boot configuration. (“You have 36 hours until we blow up your computer. Now please say the numbers in group A. Thank you. Say group B…C…D…E…F. Thank you. Your patience is important to us. Now enter the following numbers in Group A…B…”) I kept thinking about that handy pirated copy, just a few shakes away. Why do they hate their paying customers?

    It reminds me of the poignant anti-music-piracy pitch: “Watch for Compilation CDs that could only exist in the dreams could only exist in the dreams of a music fan.”

  16. factotum says:

    @twophrasebark: Without a working serial the software is broken/useless/defective. Adobe refuses (or lacks the competence) to rectify the situation. Been there, “cracked” it.

  17. @Necoras: Yes, because stealing tools is always preferable to negotiating a lower price. Um. Or something. ‘Cos stealing is right is you’re the slightest bit inconvenienced!

  18. @factotum: While what you’re saying makes perfect sense, the credit card company doesn’t care. Adobe delivered the product. The credit card companies don’t get involved in whether or not you can use the software. They have NO clue whether or not you got the serial number. You didn’t order a serial number. You ordered software and you got it.

    What you’re referring to is known as a “quality of merchandise” complaint. Few credit card companies will get involved in this. “The software doesn’t work” “This product isn’t as advertised” “This tailoring sucks.” They have no way to evaluate those kind of things nor will they. Some credit card companies will give you a credit as a courtesy if the amount is small (Amex does this a lot).

    Believe me, she WILL have to mail back the software to Adobe in order to win the chargeback. In which case, she’s really just getting a refund…

  19. Dear Torrent Babies: Those of us who pay for software that helps us make a living and give feedback to Adobe long and loud about restrictive DRM because? We frakkin’ hate you. Because if you don’t pay, you don’t get listened to.

    You pirate jackholes make the lives of legitimate customers a lot harder because you think that to retouch a picture of your slammed Accord or figure out how to put some celebrity’s head on a ho’s body you need a free copy of Photoshop…because Adobe charges “too much”…get a real job as a graphic artist and pay for your tools. You’d steal an airbrush or a canvas from an art store?

  20. Xkeeper says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: I think the point he’s getting at is, if you’re going to be treated like a pirate, you might as well be a pirate.

    I wouldn’t call this “slightly inconvinienced”, especially if you’re on a tight schedule and the place you bought the software from is refusing to help despite having paid for it.

  21. Xkeeper says:


    Dear Torrent Babies: Those of us who pay for software that helps us make a living and give feedback to Adobe long and loud about restrictive DRM because? We frakkin’ hate you. Because if you don’t pay, you don’t get listened to.


    You’d steal an airbrush or a canvas from an art store?

    You’d pay for it, they’d refuse to give you your newly bought property, they’d refuse to answer anything about it, you’d walk out with it.

    Could we at least ATTEMPT to keep the comments on track?

  22. forgottenpassword says:

    The only use I had for adobe was for opening pdfs, I couldnt BELIEVE how much space it took up on my HD!

    About a month ago I finally deleted it & replaced it with a free alternative program…. think it was called “foxit”. Found it in a lifehacker article. Foxit takes up hardly any space on my HD.

    And yeah I agree with the earlier comment. Its just easier to download a pirated copy of whatever software because of all the bullshit DRM hoops software companies make you jumpe thru on a legit copy.

    Keep making it hard for actual paying customers…. and you just make them run to a pirated copy.

  23. Nick1693 says:

    “It accepted that, but then asked you to
    verify that you was eligible to upgrade.” Umm… I think they mean, “It accepted that, but then asked you to
    verify that you were eligible to upgrade.”

  24. @CaliforniaCajun: you pirate jackholes make the lives of legitimate customers a lot harder

    Incorrect: they’re just a scapegoat. DRM and activation schemes do not address bittorrent-type piracy. Hypothetically, it only takes one copy in the wild, cracked or otherwise, for it to be available to anyone. Smart thieves are downloading the activation-free volume license copies. (You see, the VL copies exist because corporations won’t put up with that kind of activation bullshit, kind of like how the government won’t put up with cell-phone ETFs.)

    So why is the DRM there? Why shackle everyone when you know that people will have no trouble downloading it online? To keep their paying customers “honest”. If the license says it shall be installed on one machine, then they’re not going to let you put one copy on your laptop and one copy on your desktop, even if you never use them at the same time. And there are other reasons:

    * Did you switch to Corel and you want to sell your old version of Adobe CS online? Nope.
    * Want to install a new hard drive? Better call Adobe, Microsoft, and start praying.
    * Want to play your music in your office and at home? Get Apple on the line.
    * Tired of that song and and want to give it to your brother? Not going to happen.
    * Did your dog eat your activation dongle? I’m sorry. I guess you didn’t want to complete that project on time after all.

    DRM is targeted squarely at paying customers, not pirates. It’s all about control and putting the “L” in “license” and the “H” in “Hi, this is Adobe. Please bend over while we consider your application to use our software. We’ll be with you in a minute.”

  25. arbouretum says:

    aww, you made a grammar!

  26. Girtych says:

    @Michael Belisle: FINALLY. Someone that GETS IT.

    The biggest cause of software and music piracy, at least among everyone I’ve spoken to, is not so much that you’re getting it for free. While that is a factor, the biggest reason they pirate is so that they don’t have to deal with horrible DRM schemes that cripple the software that they legitimately bought. Therein lies the problem. There’s something truly ridiculous about being able to snag a superior product from BitTorrent.

    For a textbook example, consider the PC release of the extremely popular action-RPG, Mass Effect. The DRM on that game is probably the most incredibly awful, draconian mess I’ve ever seen. Electronic Arts, the folks who partially developed it, decided that they’d set up the SecuRom protection so that each individual copy of the game could only be installed THREE TIMES TOTAL. Uninstalling does NOT give you back an install. Once you’ve used all three installs, you’re forced to plunk down ANOTHER fifty to sixty bucks for a new copy.

    That is why piracy is so big. Sure, you’ll always have folks wanting freebies. But DRM is the single biggest factor. It doesn’t punish or restrict pirates. It only screws over legit users. Want to stop the problem? Stop using DRM, or at least stop using these ridiculous DRM schemes.

  27. ShariC says:

    @twophrasebark: You’re saying that someone who pays a high price for a piece of professional software ought to be put through this in order to get the software to work and there’s something wrong with the customer who won’t put up with disconnects and nonsense e-mail replies?

    This is tantamount to buying a new car and being given keys that don’t work then being patient for a few weeks until someone is willing to arrange for working keys to be given to you and blaming the customer for being impatient because we expect that there will be incompetence on the part of the seller.

  28. Sockatume says:

    This is pretty much an invitation to pirate the software IMO. Part of the reason to part with money is that you’re guaranteed a working product with technical support. You’ve got a non-working product with no technical support, so why pay?

    I’m not advocating piracy in general, just saying that this is the message that this standard of service puts out. If you build it (good customer service) they will come (and actually buy stuff).

  29. sleze69 says:

    You paid for it, you should have no problem with downloading a pirated version. That is what I do when I purchase games. They are almost always more convenient with their no-cd cracks.

  30. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: When I buy a lawn mower, I don’t have to ‘activate it’
    If I paid for the software, and their shitty DRM keeps me from using it, I have no problem using a cracked copy.
    You seem to think we should sit down and shut up, and be happy that we are all criminals to the software/music/movie industry.

    Where is Peer Guardian for Vista?

  31. bohemian says:

    I know quite a few people who have purchased legal copies of their OS that came with their computers and have installed a pirated version of an enterprise version so they don’t have to deal with all the big brother crap from MS any time you change your hardware or have to reload.

    A companies product it totally screwed when their legal paying customers are turning to pirated versions in order to get them to work properly.

  32. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Let me add…
    Using pirated software = stealing. Yes, I agree.

    Taking my money and providing software that doesn’t work/works part of the time = ??? stealing, perhaps?

  33. Pro-Pain says:

    Chargeback and move on. Adobe evidently, sucks.

  34. bohemian says:

    @doctor_cos: Of course it does but we have been so conditioned and many of our laws view the consumer as the lesser party in a dispute with a company. It is almost impossible for a consumer to take punitive action against a company. There is an entire industry to take punitive action against a consumer. Business interests have access to high volume legal mills dealing in going after consumers or using credit and collections to go after them. As in people who have been sent to collections or pursued by these high volume legal firms for financial amounts after a false accusation of shop lifting. Businesses also can pretty much as will slap something on your credit, valid or not. It is a time consuming uphill battle for the consumer to undo this even when the debt is invalid.

  35. Murph1908 says:

    You, obviously, are Job reincarnated.

    1. Unable to buy locally.
    2. Unable to be downloaded, then took a week to ship.
    3. Product failed to install.
    4. 1 business day response turned into 3, to just say “we can’t help.”
    5. 90 minute hold time followed by a disconnect.

    I think the OP was well within the limits of civility to be asked that someone call him.

    To then get the same canned response back makes his choice of when to give up spot on.

    He gave them their chance, they failed on multiple counts.

  36. boo-yahhh
    I love the photo:)

  37. mikes63737 says:

    I love Adobe products, but the ordering process pretty much sucks. Especially if you’re getting an education discount. It took over a week for someone to look at my educational ID to approve it. And the whole time my ID was publicly available online for the world to see. And then when they finally did process my order, it took over a week to ship. And before it even got to me, I got a notice saying that my personal information had been stolen from their site. Maybe they’re talking about the ID that they left up on their site forever?

  38. brentholio says:

    I’ve had issues myself. It makes me dream of how much better things were with Macromedia.

  39. codpilot says:

    And to top it off, Adobe doesn’t understand capitalized letters from lower case letters! Too many LeEt PRogRammErs?

    On my Mac I formatted the file system as case sensitive (like a real *nix box) simply because that was what Ihave been using for ever (or so it seems). Actually bought CS3, tried to install it – ERROR – it won’t even install on a case sensitive system. BLeaH. For that matter neither will many MS products – Hey programmers – letter case matters!

    Sent the program back, installed GIMP – great program, little rough around the edges but hey it works!

    As for twophrasebark: Boy corporations have you well trained don’t they. I bet you like standing in lines and not getting your number ever called too!

  40. JoeWaiver says:

    “Ledgit” adobe products are FAR less useful than a cracked version of the same.

    Sad but true, people with ledgit, paid-in-full-licenses, still use a crack to avoid just this situation. I’m one of them.

  41. Asvetic says:

    @timmus: I would really like to see Consumerist go back to its roots and try to rattle the cage of corporate offices regularly, rather than just being a conduit for front page news.

    -I concur!

  42. azntg says:


    You’d think that after somebody plunks down several hundred dollars for a simple upgrade, they could’ve at least attempt to provide a courteous and timely service.

    I used to think that piracy was reserved strictly to those who couldn’t afford to pay the high (perhaps inflated) price of software, if not, the greedy guys. But the more I hear stories like these, it seems like the software publishers WANT even the paying customers to do so.

  43. Illusio26 says:

    I can attest to adobe’s horrible CSRs. Last week I bought a copy of Font Folio 11. Since the upgrade option I wanted wasn’t available on the website, I had to call in the order. I placed my order and asked for the download option. The CSR said it would be emailed to me in an hour. 2 hours go by and no link comes.

    I call back and talk to their call center in, what I’m guessing is india. After telling him my problem and asking for the download link, he puts me on hold for about 10 minutes. Comes back and tells me he can’t do that because I asked for a CD. Long story short, after a lot of going back and forth, he says the only thing he can do is “wait for the cd to arrive, mail it back with a letter of destruction, and then he will send me the download link”

    I about lost it there telling him that was the stupidest thing I ever heard. I felt a little bad about loosing it on the guy, but that really set me off. I ask for as supervisor, he puts me on hold for 10 more minutes, comes back and tells me the exact same thing! I ask for a supervisor again and he puts me on hold again. After a half an hour of waiting i get frustrated and just hang up.

    No wonder everyone pirates their software…

  44. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @acasto: You are going to be filthy rich my friend, filthy.

  45. terminalboredom says:

    I’m a full time designer who handles 1500+ accounts a year. Ever since we had to switch from Macromedia to Adobe when CS3 was released, we have had nothing but issues with authentication, things like Photoshop losing files in the Application Support folder (necessitating more installs/authentications), and so on.

    To prevent any interruptions in our workflow, I have a cracked copy of CS3 on hand for the department at all times as a backup plan, to PREVENT the very same issues your reader has sent in, and after reading about the nightmares other users have gone through on this site. Just having one of our artists waiting around for 4 days to be able to use their software while Adobe’s customer service gets their act together, would cause the loss of thousands of dollars in lost production time due to delays.

    I’d much rather have to explain to the owners why I had to use cracked software to avert an emergency, rather than explain why presses are sitting empty for an afternoon.

    In short, fuck Adobe…I can’t wait til the open source community catches up, or until Apple gives them a rightful boot in the pants and ships their own pro graphics suite.

  46. motecillo says:

    The trial version of photoshop elements 6 never works for me they always crash my mac for some reason

  47. chikarin says:

    Yes, Adobe has their CSR all outsourced to India and most are not properly trained. It took me a month to receive an invoice for the product I purchased over the telephone order.

    Adobe is very diligent on the piracy issue, their trial software even writes date on the boot sector of your computer to keep track of installations which no program should do. Since they make activations so hard for customers it does make it easier for you to just buy a copy then download a cracked version. Pretty silly if you think about it.

  48. MonkeyMonk says:

    @Michael Belisle: I think you make a bunch of good points but really blunt your message by straying too far into hyperbole.

    “Want to install a new hard drive? Better call Adobe, Microsoft, and start praying.”

    I’ve changed computers three times and two hard drives since buying Adobe CS. I admit to hating their activation feature but this scenario has never caused any problems.

    Want to play your music in your office and at home? Get Apple on the line.

    Again, I no longer buy DRM music files from iTunes but the ones I did buy play just fine at home, at work, at my vacation home, on my ipod, etc.

  49. tastybytes says:

    even if i pay for software, i almost always install the warez version.
    especially with adobe and anything with activation.

  50. terminalboredom says:


    I get Michael’s points and yours as well, but I think the scheme he’s alluding towards isn’t as far fetched as you think it is.

    If the companies *could* get away with this, believe me they’d already be doing it.

    DRM isn’t only to cripple piracy, it’s to lock people in to a company’s ecosystem of products, and make it more difficult to *switch* to other products as time goes on, by removing things like second hand sales, refusing to allow content to work on other devices, etc.

    “Well, I want to switch to _____, but I can’t sell my copy of Photoshop to offset the cost, so I guess it’s just cheaper to go with the upgrade…”

  51. fluiddruid says:

    I work for a small software company and have had the misfortune of dealing with many Adobe employees. They are actually famous in my office for being aggressive and incompetent.

    Activation is a difficult issue – we use it, but, we would never give a customer the runaround like this. If you can’t solve it by email, the next step shouldn’t be ‘have the customer wait on hold for an hour and a half’.

  52. IrisMR says:

    “It would have been a pleasure to assist you with this issue”

    I love that line.

  53. mikelotus says:

    @twophrasebark: @CaliforniaCajun: I’m sure the OP will be glad to give you the information and get it straightened out with Adobe by Monday since you seem to have plenty of time on your hands. Please be sure to let us know about your experience with Adobe CS by posting the ressults here.

  54. ViperBorg says:

    @acasto: Charging per call, per minute, or on a “service” contract basis?

  55. Snullbug says:

    Let’s say I buy a car from my neighbor. Money changes hands, the title is signed over to me, but the neighbor refuses to allow me physical possession of the car or the keys. I’m going over there and claim my property by towing the car and having the ignition and locks changed. This is the equivalent of turning to piracy when what you paid for will not work because of fucked up DRM. There is nothing whatsoever either illegal or immoral about it. I would love to see a case like this come to court where the company would not remedy the unworkability of legally purchased software due to DRM and the user was forced to turn to warez. They paid their money – they have one working copy of the software. Where’s the crime?

  56. ballookey says:

    kamel5547 got it right, near the top. The GoLive serial number you’re copying and pasting is deliberately truncated in the help menu, or the about menu to prevent it from being shared too easily. There IS a way to find the whole number, and if Adobe actually would answer the phone, they should be able to help you with that.

    If you kept your original GoLive package, typing the number in as it appears there should work.

  57. sonicdivx says:


    I agree the process is slow. I just upgraded to CS3 and what I found was that if you needed the CS2 serial you go through the deauthorize screen and at the bottom there is a button to do by phone(or mail can’t remember) and it shows you the full TRUE serial.

    Yes this is not documented and this does not work in CS3 as the process is different.

    I talked to Customer Service to get my CS3 upgraded to 3.3 (Acrobat 9) and though took sometime they go it done. So for me other than time spent on phone had no real issue.

    I think part of their problem for legitimate buyers is that they complicate the process with multiple tiers and strange upgrades. Fun times was had when I did an upgrade from Photoshop 4 on Floppies!

  58. snerak1 says:

    I had this exact same problem with an upgrade for Illustrator. I was able to talk to “customer service” in India but they just seemed to be reading off of a script. No help whatsoever. I had to resort to downloading a SN generator to create a CS2 SN that the upgrade to CS3 would accept. Now I can legally run my legally purchased software. Adobe products cost too much money to be this messed up for paying customers.

  59. mzs says:

    A similar thing happened to me with a Final Cut Express upgrade. It turns-out that there were extra letters and digits on the slip that came with my old version that what were shown in the dialog box. That was annoying to figure-out.

  60. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Snullbug: This to me is right up there with downloading a copy of a song I already ‘own’ on cassette or LP.
    It’s not actually piracy, even though the industry would want it punishable.

  61. Prions says:

    @Snullbug: Except you’re buying the specific license linked to the serial number that you bought.

    This analogy is better: I just bought a car, money changes hands and the title is signed over to me, but the dealer refuses to allow me physical possession of the car. I can’t get to the car I want as it is locked up in the garage. But look! The dealership has another car just like it parked outside on display! Same year, same model! Sure it’s not the one I bought but it’s the same model! I’ll just take that one.

    If Adobe is being stupid then don’t buy its products (or return the broken crap)…but don’t be reduced to stealing. That’s the height of a culture of entitlement.

  62. Stormslanding says:

    A better analogy would be: You just bought a car, money changes hands and the title is signed over to you. The dealer asks for your trade in, but all you can find is the title, the physical car is nowhere to be found.

    There is a reason you backup your original discs and put them somewhere secure. This is exactly the reason. All this could have been avoided fairly simply.

  63. ? graffiksguru says:

    I’m usually pretty lucky when I talk to Adobe support, 90% of the time I get competent helpful employees, the other 10 not so much.
    The one thing I have a gripe with is, every time I reinstall the Adobe CS3 suite, I have to jump through a few hoops. Since our CS2 was a volume license, and the license we bought for my CS3 upgrade was retail, it never recognizes my CS2 serial as valid. After about 15-20 minutes on the phone though, it gets all straightened out and I get the CS3 activated.

  64. axiomatic says:

    @Michael Belisle: I have to agree with Michael Belisle as well. I’m more than willing to pay. I’m just to willing to pay to be frustrated by poorly implemented DRM. My company even gave up on ordering Adobe SW because the DRM is too much of a hassle for the IT teams to deal with.

    @CaliforniaCajun: Get real man. Your soapbox needs a podium.

  65. axiomatic says:

    Oops. I meant to say “I’m just NOT to willing to pay to be frustrated by poorly implemented DRM. “

    botched the html… lol

  66. darksunfox says:

    The problem is that you already HAD upgraded your system to CS3 by installing the trial version. The CS3 sees the trial version but doesn’t see anything to upgrade from on your local computer. This should be pretty easy for Adobe to clear up as the CS2 information should still be somewhere in the registry. Keep trying, you’ll get it installed.

    Working in the field, don’t feel like individual customers are the only ones who feel the Adobe pain. Adobe is absolutely terrible when it comes to licensing and servicing us and we’re on a significant contract. Plus, their products are absolutely ridiculous in how invasive they are to your computer. They won’t even let you uninstall them if certain directories get removed or corrupted – MICROSOFT OFFICE directories. Adobe puts its fingerprint on all the software on your machine, grabs ahold, and puts you in a death grip.

  67. superchou says:

    i have had the same crappy telephone support via Adobe in the past.. and even after 2 years it STILL hangs up on you. When I finally spoke to a human and told them about it they said at the time that they were upgrading their system that week and were working out the kinks… guess they still are working those kinks out.

  68. terminalboredom says:

    @darksunfox: Wow. Just wow. I’m looking at 8 boxes of CS3 Premium lined up here on the department software shelf, thinking of how large an outlay of money that is for a small business, and how horribly we get treated if we need support from them. For larger organizations laying out a damn fortune for the software, that’s highway robbery.

    I wish Adobe didn’t have the print industry in a death grip. I would be more than happy to use something else.

    As someone who used Freehand since 1995 or so right along side Illustrator, saying you’re proficient in something that’s not Adobe is the industry equivalent of those Stuart sketches on Mad TV…”Look what I can do!”

    …Doesn’t amount to a hill of beans to some since it’s not the newest software, despite the fact that you can get the exact same end result.

    Though I can understand people within the industry’s suspicion. I mean the amount of unusable dreck that average people send in created WITH Adobe software, I’d hate to see what incompatible monstrosities they’re creating with free/shareware.

  69. overstim says:

    Problem #1:

    There was a bug with many Adobe programs that made the 30-day trial or 30-day grace period before authorizing expire after only 1 day, if the software was installed in the month of June. Adobe’s solution was to remove free trial downloads from the web site.

    Best solution? Probably not. But it explains why you couldn’t download Dreamweaver.

    Problem #3: You cant copy and paste your serial number from another product; Adobe doesn’t display the whole thing to prevent piracy. R’ingTFM would have helped here.

  70. itmustbeken says:

    The irony here is that the biggest provider of web development software has the worst damn web support in the world!

    I had a similar situation (I had my old serial number but it would not work on the CS3 upgrade). This person was very patient. After not hearing back from Adobe for 2 days, I called Amex and had the money snatched from their account.

    Know what, I heard from them within 12 hours.
    12 hours. And then they had the gall to say they would not help me with the situation until I paid them back. Yeah, not doing that.

    The difference between Cs2 and Cs3 dreamweaver is not worth the hassle of dealing with Adobe.

  71. Difdi says:

    You buy software that according to the company, you qualify 100% to buy. They take your money, but…

    What is the difference between these:

    1) Buy software, get sent empty box.

    2) Buy software, get sent box full of disks that have non-functional DRM installed.

    End result of both: You can’t use what you bought and it is 100% the fault of the company. You’d chargeback for them sending you an empty box, so why not chargeback for them sending you disks that are so secure that they cannot be read?

  72. carbonmade says:

    Having a similar problem with Flash. It says you can upgrade to the new version if you have the 2004 Macromedia version. Well, I have that version, and when I try to install the upgrade it asks which previous version I have and even lists it in a drop-down menu. It then tells me that, no, it cannot find a previous version and to input the serial number. I do so and it does not recognize it. What happened to Adobe? They used to be so great and now they suck balls!

  73. jharrell says:

    I ran into issues with DW CS3 but much more irritating. The DRM Macrovision FlexNET IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH PROMISE RAID CONTROLLERS. The software would not load after setup – I could not even enter a serial number just a blank screen.

    Adobe took two days before they gave me a canned air head response. No solution just a bunch of reinstall this garbage. Just when I was 2 steps from hack the loader my self, I noticed the program was hanging at a REGISTRY setting involving a trusted storage device. Hmm… so then I spent a few minutes searching the forums for others that had issues with any Adobe product and FlexNET for trusted storage.

    This is what I found:


    Yes, a patch for Acrobat in Vista fixes the DRM garbage for DW CS3 in Win XP. I have not tested this but it could ales work with the trials – as I had exactly the same issue a few before using the trial. Adobe denied support with the trial – I went ahead and purchased thinking it must be a small trial bug.

    Adobe will not acknowledge and post a patch for this issue.

    Adobe truly has become the next Microsoft of support. Thick headed, understaffed, and outsourced.

  74. @MonkeyMonk: I think you make a bunch of good points but really blunt your message by straying too far into hyperbole.

    I’m in central time, so it was written during a fit of insomnia. Please accept my apologies.

    I no longer buy DRM music files from iTunes

    Neither do I. Amazon and iTunes plus are great. If it’s not available DRM-free, I go without.

    The ones I did buy play just fine at home, at work, at my vacation home, on my ipod, etc.

    Clearly your office machine doesn’t run Linux. “I shouldn’t have to break the law to listen to my music here,” I thought. (Sure, I could have burned a CD. But that’s a workaround, not a solution.)

    This is mostly a nonissue with music now, but it still applies to movies.

  75. I stand by what I wrote.

    The customer had some weird expectations and is not that credible in my opinion. What Consumerist reader would expect that someone in email customer service is going to be able to have someone in phone customer support call you?

    When has that ever happened?

    What Consumerist reader would think that “a serial number could be sent in advance?”

    When has that ever happened?

    In addition, getting technical support for a product is always much more difficult. I’m afraid some of you are misinterpreting what I wrote. I agree that it sucks, but if you give up this easily when having problems with software, you won’t be getting much software.

    Overall, based on the OP’s post, I would bet with about 95 percent certainty that she did not properly follow the directions regarding what software qualified for the upgrade.

    Also: Why did the customer WAIT for days and days for answer from email. Why didn’t she use the live chat she mentioned? Wouldn’t most of us looked for a phone number if it was obvious their email system wasn’t providing a reply?

  76. Anyway, we’re not going to find out, but I would bet you she does not have the correct serial number. I would bet my lucky nickel!

  77. @twophrasebark: I agree that it sucks, but if you give up this easily when having problems with software, you won’t be getting much software.

    The system sucks. We’d like Adobe to fix it. Other companies are not so totally incompetent when it comes to product support.

    I would bet you she does not have the correct serial number. I would bet my lucky nickel!

    So what? Adobe should have been able to help her figure that out about 3 weeks ago.

    It doesn’t have to be like this. This is why we are all gathered here today, huddled around a tragic story and a list of Adobe executive email addresses.

  78. @Michael Belisle: I don’t disagree with anything you wrote!

  79. unmeitatakau says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I had to reformat my computer because of a glitch with Vista and when I reloaded adobe cs2 it wouldn’t let me because it said I had already loaded it previously and was only good for one load and I had to contact customer service. In which I did and customer service wouldn’t help me. Is it illegal to crack or use a keygen on a legal copy that you bought?

  80. @unmeitatakau: Yes, but that shouldn’t stop you.

  81. stands2reason says:

    Problem #5, you tried to install software legitly without instead of using keygen / cracked software.

    srsly, buy the ‘ware if your conscious would kill you otherwise, but just used a cracked version. We all know DRM ruins everything: this [story] isn’t exactly news.

  82. mariospants says:

    Oddness indeed. I didn’t any problems myself and I did the exact same upgrade.

    Adobe products have way too many bugs and way too many really useful features nowadays.

    I wish there was a good alternative to Photoshop, *sigh*.

  83. I heard GIMP is good?

  84. rikkus256 says:

    The only reason why people still buy a software that is easily available for free on BT and P2P is: customer service. Especially when you pay hundreds of dollars. Great job Adobe for possibly forcing another honest, legit buyer into pirating.