Danish Kapoor
Danish Kapoor

Adobe sued over 'Subscription Cancellation Difficulties'

The US filed a lawsuit against Adobe, accusing it of making it difficult to cancel subscriptions and deceiving consumers with hidden fees. The lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice on Monday alleges that Adobe made it difficult for consumers to cancel subscriptions and concealed high early cancellation fees.

Criticisms over Adobe's subscription policies

The lawsuit states that Adobe hides the terms of its annual, monthly paid plans behind “fine print, optional text boxes, and hyperlinks.” This way, the company does not clearly notify customers who want to cancel the subscription of early cancellation fees, which can run into hundreds of dollars. When customers try to cancel their subscriptions, they encounter a complex and cumbersome process. This process requires navigating through multiple web pages and pop-ups, which can be a deterrent to customers.

According to the lawsuit, similar obstacles are encountered when trying to cancel a subscription by phone or live chat. The Department of Justice alleges that customers had their calls or chats disconnected, and when they reconnected they had to explain again why they were calling. It is stated that these practices violate federal laws designed to protect consumers.

Maninder Sawhney, Adobe's senior vice president of digital marketing and sales, and David Wadhwani, president of its digital media business unit, are also targeted in the lawsuit. The complaint alleges that these executives directed, controlled, or participated in these practices of Adobe. Adobe declined to comment on the matter.

“Adobe locked customers into annual subscriptions by hiding early cancellation fees and making cancellation difficult,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. He stated that Americans are tired of companies playing games during subscription registration and encountering obstacles when they want to cancel. The federal government began investigating Adobe's cancellation practices last year.

In 2012, Adobe moved from selling its creative software for lifetime use to a monthly or annual subscription model that includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and other products. This subscription model of the company has long been a source of frustration among creative professionals, who often have to depend on Adobe to keep their jobs. Earlier this month, Adobe's new terms of service drew backlash after it was seen as an opportunity for users to train their artwork with artificial intelligence.

This case is seen as part of ongoing regulatory investigations into Adobe. In 2022, Adobe tried to buy product design platform Figma for $20 billion, but backed out of the deal after facing antitrust scrutiny from European regulators last year.

Adobe's subscription cancellation difficulties and hidden fees call into question how much the company cares about customer satisfaction and consumer rights. This case shows once again that Adobe's business practices need to be more transparent and user-friendly.

Danish Kapoor