Cross Platform Request Nightmare

Back when CS3 was released I was incorrectly sent a Windows version. Since then I’ve wanted to change it to Mac OS X which has been extremely frustrating and time consuming. Below is a rundown of the contact I had with Adobe, but the most frustrating thing was the correspondence from Adobe was extremely robot like. I constantly asked where I should file a complaint, but Adobe never address questions sent to them, instead ignoring what was written to them and responding in how they seen fit.

First contact with Adobe to get a cross platform conversion.

I was asked to prove where I had got the copy of Flash CS3 was from.

I sent proof that I’d got the copy of Flash CS3 direct from Adobe.

Adobe responded asking me to sign and send back a Letter of Software Destruction.

Adobe chased me up for the above (obviously my postman doesn’t wear a rocket pack).

Adobe confirms they had received the above letter and the case had been escalated. They would get back to me.

Adobe conformed approval of the cross platform request, and ask me to contact them to make payment for shipping costs. I phoned them to make this payment.

Adobe confirmed that the company credit card had been declined and advised I contact the bank to allow the charge from Adobe.

At this point I gave up. We were busy, needed another copy of Flash, and just installed an older version I had hanging around. I knew the company credit card was fine, as I used it on a daily basis, the bank said Adobe hadn’t tried to take any payment, and Adobe said the card was declined.

I decided to have another crack and changing the platform.

Adobe responded with a contact number to make payment for the shipping.

I’d tried phoning the number supplied 10+ times, sometimes waiting over 40 minutes, but never got to speak to anyone. The recording recommended I emailed Adobe. I emailed Adobe stating this asking for someone to contact me, and asking where I should make a complaint.

I chased Adobe up as I had no reply for the email above.

Adobe replied like a robot, apologizing, giving me the same number, and ignoring my request to make a complaint.

I replied stating they weren’t answering my question.

I was asked for my contact number, and a good time to phone.

I was contacted by Kenneth Stoll (I mention this guy by name as he was the only sensible person I spoke to throughout this process, although I found it disappointing that he didn’t follow the case through until its end) and told that because CS4 had been released Adobe could no longer provide a copy of CS3. He told me that the Windows version I had was useless as I had previously signed a Letter of Destruction for it, and therefore it couldn’t even be sold on. Kenneth would go away and see what he could do. He came back stating that Adobe would exchange it for a copy of CS4 (bonus), and that he would send me a Letter of Destruction to fax back.

I signed and faxed the Letter of Destruction back to Adobe and confirmed this with an email.

Adobe emailed me asking me to fax back the Letter of Destruction which had been done earlier that day.

I replied stating I had faxed it back, and sent a confirmation email.

Kenneth Stroll emailed me stating I should disregard Adobe’s previous email and that my case had been escalated.

After no contact from Adobe I sent an email chasing them up.

Still no contact, I chased them up again.

Adobe replied stating that the case was now closed.

Adobe replied apologizing and stated they were experiencing unexpected high email volume. They assured me my cross platform request was going ahead without delay and that an order had been placed.

I chased the status up again (I still hadn’t made payment).

Adobe stated they had tried calling my phone with no success and they had left a message asking me to contact them.

I emailed back stating that they hadn’t left a number on the message for me to contact them on.

Adobe emailed stating that the case was now closed and supplied the following number to contact them on 0203650733.

I replied stating the number provided wasn’t valid, and asked where i could make a complaint.

Adobe emailed apologizing, providing the same invalid number, and no info on making a complaint.

I emailed again stating the number wasn’t valid, and asking where I could make a complaint.

I chased up Adobe after no contact.

Adobe sent me this “Takk for din henvendelse til Adobe Kundeservice.”

Adobe replied stating that the number was valid, and that I should try it without the zero at the start.

I replied stating that whether the zero was at the start or not, the number didn’t work.

Adobe replied stating that had escalated the case to the concern authorities as a matter of priority (no mention of the invalid phone number).

I asked them to confirm that the number they had previously provided was invalid.

I again asked them to confirm that the number they had previously provided was invalid.

I chased up Adobe again after no contact since 26/12/2008.

I chased up Adobe again after no contact since 26/12/2008.

Adobe replied stating a service agent was responding to my case.

Adobe replied stating they had tried to contact me, but were unfortunately unable to reach me, and asked i contact them (without supplying a number).

I asked them to confirm the number they had tried me on, and to supply a valid number for me to contact them on.

Adobe emailed stating they would contact me. Again not confirming the number, or a time/date.

I asked them to confirm when.

Adobe emailed asking me to contact them, again without providing a number.

I replied asking where I make a complaint about their service.

I was called by an Adobe representative from abroad and finally managed to make payment. I also requested that a complaint was filed.

Adobe confirmed that someone would call me to take my complaint.

Adobe did call me and I did make a complaint or though I haven’t received any feedback from it.

The most disappointing this is that 2 weeks after finally managing to make the payment I still haven’t received my Mac OS X version of Flash CS4. I guess that means more emails to come.

50 Responses to “Cross Platform Request Nightmare”

  1. Joseph says:

    Did you email the consumerist?

  2. Tink says:

    Nah thats a good idea, think I’ll do that.

  3. TK says:

    You have much patience, my friend. After 5 failed correspondences I would have lost it. Hope you get your CS4 copy!

  4. Tink says:

    Believe me I lost it a long time ago, but there really is no other option except to continue to deal with these people to get the matter resolved.

  5. hiimerik says:

    You have some serious patience dude, stellar record keeping – I would suggest passing this on to the consumerist website as well.

  6. Zarate says:

    Yet another example of a legitimate customer getting a (much, much) worst experience than someone getting a knock off copy.

    I feel your pain mate :|

  7. byteme says:

    HA, this is why you should have just downloaded it illegally. When Adobe can’t respond appropriately to their own legal client base, they don’t deserve to have your money.

  8. Dan says:

    When you do get your CS4, there’s no guarantee it will install. Mine hasn’t installed on my machine and I haven’t heard back from support. Adobe, if you are reading this, help!

  9. Chris Hill says:

    I have had a similar experience, but nothing as bad. Adobe gave me the runaround since Oct 27, 2008. Last week after many, many attempts, and many different answers, I finally got one that made sense. For some reason my card was declined. Of course I don’t know this because its a company card and i’m not the accountant. The guy who took my original order did not take down my card number correctly or something. It took 3 months of complaining to find this out! I was told it was in processing, that it was shipping, pretty much anything to get me off the phone! Horrible customer experience. The sad thing is that if I want my cross-platform upgrade, I will have to go through it all again. I have no other choice. :(

  10. creacog says:

    reads like a “That’s Life” script!

  11. John Neil says:

    Yep, sounds like the time I called to buy FMS 3 after the announcement was made for it.

    The Adobe operator told me that I could only buy FMS 2, so I said thanks, but, no thanks. She then offered that if I did get it that I would be put on an upgrade list and would be contacted for my free FMS 3 upgrade. So I bought it FMS 2.

    No upgrade call ever came, and I’ve got a similar log of calls that lasted over a year, no call backs and long calls on hold; some as long as 2 hours.

  12. every try making a satire video about it? it seems (not just with Adobe) that some things just weren’t meant to be. I experience a similar (though not as extreme) thing sometimes… it starts off bad and never gets better. My experiences with Adobe customer service on the phone has been a tad better than average I’d say.

  13. blah says:

    Wow, if you’re pissed now just imagine once you get CS4. It’s the slow and buggy. There is another option, it’s called bit torrent.

  14. [...] et suffering Posted by Tom Moertel Wed, 04 Feb 2009 04:45:00 GMT After reading about the ordeal a paying customer went through attempting to get Adobe to fix a simple mistake [...]

  15. Just Curious says:

    Just wondering.. so you expected Adobe to “hop to” after letting the case sit for four months? If this is the case, then your sense of scale is off a little – consider the sheer volume of workload to be handled if every case was kept open forever. You abandoned your effort, then started over anew.

    True, your frustration is valid – but only from the point at which you decided to move forward again. It also doesn’t help your argument that you explicitly stated you had NOT made the payment (I still hadn’t made payment on 08/12/2009) required as fulfillment of your side of the contract of exchange.

    You have a right to be frustrated, but Adobe has a right to require you to conform to some basic requirements, and you failed to do so. Perhaps you should re-count, starting from the point you called them back in October of 2008, and excluding the period of between their request for payment and your actually paying them as required. I wonder how the numbers would come out then.. still slow, I’ll wager, but not as bad as you’ve attempted to make it sound here.

  16. common sense says:

    dude. just get a pirated copy of the software.

    this is why people don’t deal with adobe or microsoft anymore.

  17. Stu says:

    Blimey that’s rough. I completely sympathise – I had a similar experience trying to get details of an Adobe partnership scheme.

    Have you thought about contacting Lee Brimelow to see if he can help at all?

  18. Tink says:

    @ blah

    We have copies of CS4, and although I agree it isn’t the greatest (speed, mix of UI controls, bugs, lots of new features I don’t use and still no public place to log bugs), but I don’t have any huge problems with it.

    @ Just Curious

    It also doesn’t help your argument that you explicitly stated you had NOT made the payment (I still hadn’t made payment on 08/12/2009) required as fulfillment of your side of the contract of exchange.

    You have a right to be frustrated, but Adobe has a right to require you to conform to some basic requirements, and you failed to do so. Perhaps you should re-count, starting from the point you called them back in October of 2008, and excluding the period of between their request for payment and your actually paying them as required

    You obviously haven’t read this correctly. I wanted to make payment, but didn’t have anyway of making this payment to Adobe, I couldn’t speak to them, and I wasn’t able to do it online, or via email. The process above is me actually trying to make payment to them. Whatever they asked me to do (sign letters, send faxes back, call numbers etc, was all done on the same day on my part).

    so you expected Adobe to “hop to”

    No i didn’t expect them to hop to, but i didn’t expect them to

    - tell me to talk to my bank when they couldn’t take payment, without checking the details,
    - give me phone numbers that didn’t work, and argue that they did work when I questioned it
    - send me conflicting information from different people at Adobe, they obviously weren’t talking to each other,
    - ignore my comments when replying like robots with the same info over and over
    - send me a random email in another language
    - state that the case was closed before addressing the issue
    - drag the whole process out over 2.5 months
    - make such a simple task so complicated and require so much correspondence. This is surely a simple process.

    From the amount of responses here in a day it would seem that Adobe have a real customer service problem. I can’t help but think a huge part of this is because they are farming a large part of it out to the east, which we all know saves money, but just doesn’t work great.

    The good news is that after writing this post (co-incidence or not), I got an email this morning confirming that my order had been shipped!

    Now I wonder if I’ll get any follow up about my complaint!

  19. Sad. I thought Adobe were better than this.

  20. Tink says:

    Low and behold the thing just turned up!

    Feedback on the complaint Adobe?

  21. [...] it, you get a warning message. (tags: spam internet education technology phishing email) Tink » Blog Archive » Cross Platform Request Nightmare 9 months and still no Flash CS [...]

  22. va says:

    We’ve had lots of issues with adobe customer support at my office. I can totally sympathize. Wasn”t as bad as what you had to deal with, but we waited months for an upgrade to show up ready for download even after it was paid for. It was horribly frustrating to say the least.

  23. paddy says:

    jeeps, I’ve just brought a mac and am going to have to do the ‘cross-platform upgrade’. I hope it’s less painful than your experience! at the mo I’m tempted to just use CS3 with parallels/VMFusion… p;)

  24. John Dowdell says:

    Hi Tink, I’m confused, not sure I can help. You wrote “Back when CS3 was released I was incorrectly sent a Windows version. “ CS3 arrived April 16 2007, but it seems like you started to pursue a different platform just over a year later. (I’m not sure whether it was a purchase, or a comp, or something else. Was it actually the full Creative Suite, or just the Flash app? Could you refactor the banking details? I’d be able to pull the story together better then, thanks.)

    Different OS versions are treated as different products rather than upgrades or replacements, because they’re different codebases developed in parallel. Doing an OS license change is tricky, but still, that seems like a lot more conversation than most people endure. Seems like it should be easy to clear up, once we actually know what it is…?

    tx, jd/adobe

  25. Paulo says:

    Wow that blows, though I am impressed that on 24/12 they managed to send you a reply in Norwegian no less :)

  26. Angry customer says:

    Until now I thaught piracy is a crime, but now…

  27. Tink says:

    Hey John

    Well as mentioned above, after publishing this post, i got an email stating the product had been shipped and it turned up yesterday, so not really anything to clear up.

    That said I would like some follow up from Adobe on my complaint at why this was handled so badly and took so much of my time, with so many errors and so much confusion and conflicting info on Adobes part.

    He’s some answers to your questions.

    but it seems like you started to pursue a different platform just over a year later.

    Yep, it took me that long to bother trying to pursue a different platform. I pursued the matter when I needed another version of Flash, and thought exchanging the useless one I had still unopened in the box would be better than leaving that useless a buying a new one.

    I’m not sure whether it was a purchase, or a comp, or something else.

    The particular version was provided by Adobe for being beta tester on the released candidate I believe.

    “Was it actually the full Creative Suite, or just the Flash app?”

    It was just Flash CS3.

    Could you refactor the banking details?

    Not sure what you mean?

    Doing an OS license change is tricky,

    I’d like to ask what is so tricky about this process. If you can clearly see that the user owns a valid copy and are so quick to make that useless after receiving the letter of destruction, what’s so tricky about taking a £6 payment and sending out the product?

    I would seem that Adobe have a problem taking payment? Generally when I buy something on the web, I add my card details, submit them and I’m told whether it was successful there an then. When I purchased Web Premium CS4 I added my card details, submitted and was told my order would be confirmed in 3 working days, not there and then as every other product I’ve bought over the web.


    Please note this wasn’t a ‘cross-platform upgrade’, it was a cross platform request on an unused product (i.e. there was no upgrade involved). I would have thought the upgrade process could be done online, you’ll just have to wait 3 days for them to verify your purchase ;) .

  28. Ncu says:

    Boy, I would have installed it from torrent sites from day 2 until Adobe got their act together. That’s not how they should behave with their clients!

  29. [quote]Adobe sent me this “Takk for din henvendelse til Adobe Kundeservice.”[/quote]This by the way is Norwegian, and means “Thank you for your request to Adobe Customer service”

  30. Rob Thomson says:

    Dude, I would have been sharpening axes a long time before that.

    Why didn’t you try and use some of your in-house contacts to speed the process, maybe nudge things in the right direction. I know Adobe isn’t a small organisation but wouldn’t it have been faster poking from within?

  31. Tink says:

    If only I owned an axe!

    The couple of people I know at Adobe really would be too busy with their job to start trying to address this.

  32. Dave S. says:

    Tink, I take some comfort knowing my recent (and yet to be resolved) ordeal with Adobe is not an isolated experience. Here is my tale of futility:

    Had my laptop (PC) stolen. I’d been thinking about switching to a Mac so I replaced it with a MacBook, which could run my Windows software while I transitioned to Mac software.

    Called Adobe about replacing my CS3 Windows with CS3 Mac. CS4 had just come out, so I could only do the cross-platform switch by upgrading. Fair enough; I sent in my letter of destruction, provided payment information, and waited for my new software. This was in late November. I received an email confirming that all my paperwork had been received and that, barring any issues, my order would be processed “and shipped within the number of business days you requested.”

    At this point I should point out that I’ve been using Adobe products for over 20 years. I really, really like their software and depend on it to conduct my business as a designer and communications specialist.

    A few weeks went by; no software. I called mid-December to express my impatience. Received effusive apologies and assurances that “an email had been sent” to the department responsible for getting my software shipped.

    Mid January, still nothing. Now I’m mad, and I let the CSR know it. More apologies, more assurances that everything will be done to ship my software ASAP.

    Mid February and guess what? Still no software. Now I’m completely pissed and I spend close to two hours talking to about six different people trying to convey my absolute frustration, my sense of powerlessness and betrayal, and my lack of confidence that Adobe will make good on any of its promises. I suggest that Adobe do the right thing and overnight my software and knock a few dollars of the upgrade price. Apparently my arguments were too nuanced for Adobe’s offshore customer service people. I was told my software would arrive today or tomorrow at the latest, and that I would hear within 24-48 hours regarding my request that I be compensated for my aggravation and lost productivity.

    My card is yet to be charged so I know my software has not been shipped yet, and no one from Adobe has bothered to get in touch with me. I curse my dependence on their software and I curse their absolute disregard for me as a loyal customer.

    The question is, what do I do in two weeks when I’m still waiting for my software? I am nearly insane. Does this become a matter for the Better Business Bureau? I welcome anyone’s suggestions. At any rate, I feel a little better having vented.

    Dave, Adobe Customer Service Victim, Case #201496105

  33. Tink says:

    I’m sorry to hear this Dave. All I can suggest is that you persist, and contact Adobe on a bi-daily basis or something.

    Adobe are yet to respond to my complaint, even though John Dowdell from Adobe replied in these comments asking further questions, all has now gone quiet on Adobe’s part.

  34. Luis Larrea says:

    Amazing that something so simple has proven to be so difficult for Adobe. Thanks for sharing your stories and Dave, all the similarities you have all shared is payment not being received. I think you just have to stress to someone that your payment is being declined so you’d like them to go over your payment information. Good luck.

  35. Dave says:

    Actually Luis, payment was never the problem. I just seem to have slipped into some kind of twilight zone. No matter how often I call and rant that I haven’t received my software, the routine is the same: We’re sorry, says a well-meaning but unaccountable person in India; I can personally assure you that your software will be shipped right away … then nothing. We’re on the fourth loop now. Honestly, I think they’re trying to drive me insane. But how do I get through to someone with an ounce of compassion — dare I say it, in the continental U.S. — who can actually get it done for me? And is that Rod Serling I hear in the background, narrating this nightmare?

  36. Anonymous says:

    My one experience trying to purchase Flash from Adobe was similar.

    I’m in Japan. Adobe won’t sell an English version here, and for various (credit-card- and expense-billing-related) reasons was it convenient to buy an English copy mail-order from the U.S.

    But I thought this might be pretty simple: buy a Japanese copy, and use that serial number to authorize my demo copy I’d downloaded.

    Before spending $800, however, I wanted to check that this would work. So I sent off an e-mail to Adobe North American tech. support, stating specifically that I wanted a reply in English, and asking my question. I received a response in Japanese.

    I had the usual back and forth for a few weeks, similar to the above, and finally we gave up and never purchased the product.

    Why does a company make it so hard for me to give them $800?

  37. Ross says:

    You certainly have a lot more patience than I. Mid-December I probably would have escalated this to the Better Business Bureau. I guarantee they will listen to that complaint, as it is a permanent mar on their record. The BBB never removes the complaint, only updating its status to say whether or not it is resolved.

  38. Kyle says:

    I have something to offer all of you, particularly Dave. The Adobe headquarters is located in, I believe, San Francisco, California. If you’re in the area, it might be worth popping in, with records of what you did and when.

    If you’re not fortunate enough to live in the San Francisco area, or don’t have immediate plans to travel there, I would Google their building’s phone numbers and start calling. Don’t call randomly, and definitely not with attitude, as corporate people don’t have time for such things.

    I would however, start with the department directory, see what offices are housed there. You’ve tried elevating the issue at the customer support level, but that has failed you. It’s time to use the chain of command. Find out who governs that department, and call one of the busy bodies that work in that department. If that fails, ask Google who leads those departments, and call up the chain slowly but steadily.

    It is a surefire tactic that if you keep elevating up the North American side of their chain of command, you will eventually reach a person who says “I don’t know why you’re calling me but I’m going to look into this. What are your contact details?”

    I had that kind of a problem myself with HP about some customer service runarounds that I had from what I’m sure are good-intentioned Indians just looking to do their job well and continue providing for their families, but they were ineffective. I eventually reached a regional (southeast) training manager, who used to hold other seats within the company and he personally took care of my issue, and even wrote in a free year of unlimited support for me for the hassles I had. It took forever, but it paid off. Patience is key my friends. If the first level can’t help you (ie India), move on up the corporate ladder. Hope is at the top.

  39. Dave says:

    Thanks Kyle, that’s excellent advice. I also appreciate Ross’s suggestion to contact the Better Business Bureau. Somehow I’ll get through. Maybe I’m naive, but I have to think that somewhere within the organization there is someone who would be horrified by my ordeal and could get the matter resolved. The challenge is to navigate the labyrinth, avoid the rabbit holes of customer service, and get that person’s attention.

  40. Andrew says:

    Ugh… I dealt with this issue a couple years ago. I was looking to switch to Mac and was trying to get my license switched over. I wasn’t even dealing with the complexity of CS4 being out, CS3 was the only game in town at the time.

    Anyhow, I called up and got connected to what I assume was a foreign call center. It was immediately frustrating not because of issues with accents, but rather due to ignorance. The call center worker had a lot of trouble understanding what I wanted to do (issues like license swaps to new OS are probably off script). After more than an hour of talking to different reps I got transferred to some sort of specialized costumer service rep. He understood the issue and had me wait while he updated information on the system.

    He then said he was going to transfer me to another rep who would finish the transfer. He assured me that all of the information I had given him (and it was a ton) would be in my account. I was skeptical because EVERY rep I had talked to up until now had said the same thing and it was never transferred. So I was transferred which resulted in a very long hold time. Finally someone came back on the line. I was back talking to a foreign call center worker. She asked my information/case number/etc. Once I gave it to her she told me there were no notes or other information and re-asked what my problem was.

    Now this was 2+ hours in and I had made no progress. I wanted to yell or cry or something, but the fact is this wasn’t the fault of the call-center worker I was now speaking to. So I calmly re-explained what I was trying to do. She politely waited until I was done then let me know that Adobe didn’t make Creative Suite for Apple computers.

    I thanked her for the information, then hung up.

  41. Alrick says:

    One of the things that I find that work well for me is insisting that you speak with a supervisor or manager. They cannot deny you that right (you being a customer).

    It saves a lot of precious time and you get stuff done faster.

  42. menelec says:

    Switch to TextMate! Your programming life will be 10x happier. (^v^)

  43. Tink says:

    Of course menelec. Using a tool that doesn’t support the language I’m using will really help.

  44. Whammy! says:

    And they wonder why people steal their software…

  45. Dave S. says:

    and who knew so many hot women lived near me!
    but honestly, the thought has crossed my mind, after months and months of fruitless effort, that Adobe has left me no choice but to obtain their software through alternative channels.

  46. Tink says:

    “and who knew so many hot women lived near me!” ?

  47. Dave S. says:

    sorry — if you go to the website referenced by Whammy the margins are cluttered with seductive come-ons from “local” babes …

  48. Whammy! says:

    Dave S. says: “sorry — if you go to the website referenced by Whammy the margins are cluttered with seductive come-ons from “local” babes … ”

    There’s this browser called Firefox. It has a thing called Ad Block. People that don’t use Macs know how to use these things. They call themselves teh Google. Ask them and you shall learn.

    I myself have none babes in my area. I am teh Google.

  49. Hamranhansenhansen says:

    We need an App Store for Mac. I just want to see this in iTunes when CS5 ships:

    Adobe Photoshop CS5 [new] [upgrade]
    Adobe Flash CS5 [new] [upgrade]

    Then when I click those 2 upgrade buttons to continue paying for and using the latest version of these 2 essential professional tools, I want to see this on my computer afterwards:


    And of course I want the apps to also work on my second computer and when a bugfix ships, put a little badge in iTunes to let me know.

    The discs-in-boxes became foolish when the mandatory registration came in. Now that I have a MacBook Air (no optical disc drive, but does have an always on Internet connection) and use more 3rd party iPhone apps than I do Mac apps, it is just bizarre to think about buying CS5 the old-fashioned way. I regularly download movies that are bigger than the Photoshop or Flash installers.

    I’m a pro user … all I want to do is drop the right amount of money in the hat when each CS version ships and keep working without disturbing a single human being at Adobe. It doesn’t seem like the upgrade process is designed for us at all, although it really should be.

    I should mention that I skipped CS4 solely because I just didn’t want to deal with the whole process of upgrading. It might be fun for computer science people but I did not enjoy the experience with CS3 at all. Last time I got a new Mac, it took me n amount of time to install the 10 or so non-Adobe, non-Apple apps that I use, and then n amount of time to install my Adobe apps. It was like I had purchased my creative tools from a PC installer software vendor or some kind of marketing firm, and the fact that Photoshop and Flash were on my computer was just a sort of side effect of my having “experienced Adobe Creative Suite.” SUCKS.

  50. Roger says:

    Funny, I’m in the middle of the same thing. Two months in and no sign of the software. They have my credit card, my letter of software destruction, everything they need. They won’t reply to questions on the case thread, and they won’t reply to newly opened questions. The customer support people on the phone tell me every week that there’s no reason it shouldn’t ship out, yet every week it doesn’t ship out. Good thing I destroyed my old copies. Never heard of a company refusing to take a thousand dollars from someone who’s begging them to take it. HILARITY.

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