Complaint sent to FTC

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  • Problem
  • Updated 1 year ago
  • Not a Problem

Bait & Switch (auto-renewal) policy for Adobe Creative Cloud Photography - Here is what I sent to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission):

Hello -- Adobe Systems, Inc. sells a product called "Creative Cloud Photography" which includes Photoshop CC and Lighthouse 6.  They sell "12-month prepaid membership" cards.  I purchased one card in May 2015 for $119.99.  At the end of the year's membership, Adobe sends a renewal reminder email; however, it actually states that your membership has been auto-renewed for another year.  It does not ask if you want another year's membership, it just auto-charges you for another year.  I was charged $9.99 for the month of June 2016 ($10.94 with WA sales tax), and when I went online to cancel my membership, it accepted my cancellation, except that it also said that a 50% cancellation charge (or $60.18 before taxes) "will be charged to your card.  Your invoice will post shortly."    When I called Adobe's customer service number (800-833-6687) they mentioned that the online product terms indicated the auto-renewal aspect, including the 50% "early cancellation" fee.  When I initially signed up in 2015, by redeeming my card (scratching off the access code) at, and entering the unique product code, I understood it to be for a 12-month membership, and that Adobe would email me at the end of the 12 months asking if I wanted to renew.  That did not happen.  I submit that it is unfair and deceptive advertising.  The card specifically states that the usable term (what I paid for) was for a "12-month prepaid membership" -- it states that explicitly on the product card which I purchased at a Best Buy retail store.  It does not state "continuous use, or until cancelled' or something similar.  The company should be required to explicitly ask you for payment approval to renew for another year; and this should be required at the end of each year's term.  [The online terms of service also said that there would be no 50% cancellation fee, if canceled within 30 days of the date of renewal.  The 12-month contract expired on May 7 and I cancelled on May 19 (within the 30 day period; however, Adobe views the 30-day window to only cover the 30 days preceding the end of the 12-month period.)  Finally, I do not understand how you can advertise a product with a "pre-paid" plan (12-month term) and then auto-shift the consumer to a continuous term with an early termination fee plan, without getting an explicit approval from the consumer (for the change in terms).  This seems like a bait & switch technique. Finally, in order to use the original card, I had to "scratch" the back of the card to find out what the unique 24-digit product number was, in order to activate the Adobe Photoshop/Lighthouse creative cloud service.  Obviously, if one then reads the online terms of service (which you can't do until you have already scratched the card) the retail store will not refund my money with a card that is no longer usable (if I were to disagree with Adobe's online (very lengthy) terms of service).  In summary, I think that Adobe should be required to fairly advertise that their 12-month prepaid subscription is really an ongoing contract with very specific cancellation terms that, in all likelihood, will end up costing the consumer more than they had expected.  Furthermore, auto-renewals should not be allowed, if they were not originally agreed to (bait & switch), without getting prior explicit approval from the consumer.  Thanks for listening.

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Anthony Shanks

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  • Highly disappointed

Posted 3 years ago

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Photo of Rikk Flohr

Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Greetings Anthony,

Attached is a publicly-available link to the Subscription Terms for Adobe. I have highlighted a section for your review: 

A Customer Care person should be in contact with you directly. 
Photo of TangCanada


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I understand you bought a membership card from Best Buy and redeemed it on Adobes website. What I dont understand is the process used to bill / charge you for another year... or in other words how are they getting their money... did you also have to leave a credit card with them on redeeming the Best Buy card?