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US Government Sues Adobe For Its Questionable Business Practices

The Department of Justice was not pleased with the company creating an obstacle course out of its cancellation process.


In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, the ongoing controversy surrounding Photoshop and Substance 3D developer Adobe has extended beyond negative social media comments and Twitter Community Notes and into real life, with the company getting sued by the US government on the grounds of the former's questionable business practices.

The federal court complaint, filed by the Department of Justice following a referral from the Federal Trade Commission, alleges that Adobe has been harming its users by enrolling them in its default subscription plan without clearly disclosing important terms regarding the cancellation process, effectively making one's attempt to cancel their subscription a massive pain in the back.

"Adobe fails to adequately disclose to consumers that by signing up for the 'Annual, Paid Monthly' subscription plan, they are agreeing to a year-long commitment and a hefty early termination fee that can amount to hundreds of dollars," the complaint reads. "Adobe clearly discloses the ETF only when subscribers attempt to cancel, turning the stealth ETF into a powerful retention tool that [REDACTED] by trapping consumers in subscriptions they no longer want."

Furthermore, the lawsuit accuses Adobe of burying the key terms of its APM plan "in fine print and behind optional textboxes and hyperlinks", ensuring that most consumers are unlikely to ever notice or see them.

"Adobe then deters cancellations by employing an onerous and complicated cancellation process. As part of this convoluted process, Adobe ambushes subscribers with the previously obscured ETF when they attempt to cancel. Through these practices, Adobe has violated federal laws designed to protect consumers."

On top of that, the FTC claims that subscribers who attempt to cancel via customer service encounter numerous obstacles that impede or delay the cancellation process.

"Subscribers have had their calls or chats either dropped or disconnected and have had to re-explain their reason for calling when they re-connect. [REDACTED], and subscribers have been transferred to one or more Adobe representatives during their call or chat, forcing them to encounter delays, re-explain themselves, and request cancellation multiple times."

"Adobe trapped customers into year-long subscriptions through hidden early termination fees and numerous cancellation hurdles," commented Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Samuel Levine. "Americans are tired of companies hiding the ball during subscription signup and then putting up roadblocks when they try to cancel. The FTC will continue working to protect Americans from these illegal business practices."

For those who've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the entire altercation regarding Adobe kicked off in early June, following the community's outrage over the company's updated General Terms of Use, which essentially gave Adobe unlimited access to users' projects.

The outrage intensified when people discovered section 4.2 of Adobe's TOS, which states that users grant the company a royalty-free, sublicensable license to "use, reproduce, publicly display, distribute, modify, create derivative works based on, publicly perform, and translate" their creations – a clause many found deeply insulting.

With Adobe failing to sweep the controversy under the rug, it was further amplified over the past weekend when a report revealed that even Adobe's own staff is unhappy with the company and is criticizing the leadership for its "poor communication" and apparent mishandling of the Terms of Use debacle.

At the moment, Adobe hasn't provided an official statement regarding the lawsuit. One way or another, it seems that massive changes are on the horizon for the software developer's policies, practices, and overall approach to consumer dissatisfaction. Better late than never.

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Comments 2

  • Hesseling Jasper

    Large software companies like Adobe, Autodesk, and Maxon often prioritize shareholders over users, leading to user dissatisfaction. This trend is unfortunately widespread, affecting the software industry significantly. This is one of the reasons I started using Blender.


    Hesseling Jasper

    ·a month ago·
  • Anonymous user

    Good for them. If you prepay the whole year up front with adobe and cancel auto renewal it cancels your whole service you paid for. Their subscription service is the worse and heavily anti consumer. It's annoying that the only time to maximize the cancel is to cancel the last month of the term which no one will be able to remember. It's like people are expected to use prepaid credit cards to avoid auto yearly renewals. I hope they lose big on this lawsuit and make some changes.


    Anonymous user

    ·a month ago·

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