Adobe faces FTC investigation because cancelling your subscription isn’t easy enough

Dec 15, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Adobe faces FTC investigation because cancelling your subscription isn’t easy enough

Dec 15, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Adobe FTC Investigation

It almost seems to have become standard these days that the services we sign up to make it as difficult as possible to cancel. This is certainly true of Adobe, which makes you jump through at least half a dozen hoops to actually stop sending them money.

The FTC has taken notice of this and is now investigating Adobe. The information comes as Adobe submitted a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Adobe under the magnifying glass

The SEC requires public companies to provide risks to their business in these filings. An FTC investigation would certainly be a potentially big risk to Adobe’s income. And it’s all over the difficulty of cancelling your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

The section of the filing outlining the FTC investigation reads:

Since June 2022, we have been cooperating with the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) staff in response to a Civil Investigative Demand seeking information regarding our disclosure and subscription cancellation practices relative to the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act. In November 2023, the FTC staff asserted that they had the authority to enter into consent negotiations to determine if a settlement regarding their investigation of these issues could be reached. We believe our practices comply with the law and are currently engaging in discussion with FTC staff. The defense or resolution of this matter could involve significant monetary costs or penalties and could have a material impact on our financial results and operations.

Adobe is notorious for its subscription cancellation difficulties. They don’t even send out renewal notices, either. You just wake up to find a payment has been taken from your account. So, you have to stay on top of your renewal dates yourself.

FTP Proposals for subscriptions

The FTC put forward proposals in March 2023, suggesting a new “Click to Cancel” requirement for managing subscriptions. The proposal included multiple changes designed to make it easier for users just to leave a service.

For a start, cancellation procedures should be simple. It should be no more difficult to leave a service than it was to sign up in the first place. While companies will still be allowed to offer you incentives to stick with them during the cancellation process, they’ll need to ask you if you want to see them first.

Right now, Adobe offers three months free subscription the first time you try to cancel your Creative Cloud account. They’ll still be able to do this under the FTC’s proposals, but they’ll have to ask if you want to see that offer before they actually show it to you.

And, of course, they expect sellers and services to send their customers an annual reminder, letting them know when their subscription will be renewed. They also expect sellers to do better when it comes to free trials that automatically enrol you into a subscription when they expire.

A sign of things to come?

The guidelines don’t just target Adobe, of course. The FTC wants these implemented across the board on all types of subscription services. Even gym memberships. But Adobe has cited the FTC as a risk. They say that they’ve been negotiating with the FTC since long before March’s proposals.

The trend towards complicated cancellation procedures has continued to grow over the past several years. While there are still some that let you subscribe and unsubscribe at will, a lot of them seem to make it very difficult to cancel. They still want your money.

Hopefully, the FTC’s proposals will start to reverse this trend. Because if it’s easy to sign up and disappear whenever I want to, I’m much more inclined to sign up.

[via 9to5Mac]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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9 responses to “Adobe faces FTC investigation because cancelling your subscription isn’t easy enough”

  1. A. Dumas Avatar
    A. Dumas

    I was a subscriber since the inception, every time I did get an email at least 6 weeks before, and another reminder a few weeks before renewing. Not once did they failed to noticed me. This year I did not renew and it was a 2 minutes affair. Then they did confirmed my cancellation, no further emails. I live in Canada, maybe it is different elsewhere. Still I never had issues. I am not taking sides, just my own experience. It is much harder to cancel a PRIME plan with Amazon.

  2. John Wojciechowski Avatar
    John Wojciechowski

    They should also go after Cable, Satellite, and streaming services, as well.

    1. John Atkin Avatar
      John Atkin

      John Wojciechowski they’re going after Amazon too so maybe they have a list in alphabetical order…

    2. John Wojciechowski Avatar
      John Wojciechowski

      John Atkin, Amazon only gives refunds as store credit. You have to call them and argue that you want a full refund, not store credit.

    3. John Atkin Avatar
      John Atkin

      John Wojciechowski it’s about their Prime subscription model. That’s interesting though – here in the UK you can select refund to payment method within 7 days.

  3. John Atkin Avatar
    John Atkin

    They present it as a monthly subscription when it’s an annual subscription paid monthly, so people get a shock when they try to cancel and find they’re liable for the full amount. Customers should read the small print but the advertising should be more honest. And autorenewal should be opt-in, not opt-out.

  4. Yo Momma Avatar
    Yo Momma

    Playing tricks???? Don’t they have enough money?

  5. John Lee Avatar
    John Lee

    Yes, have had the experience of trying to opt out, what a nightmare, got there eventually, sort em out FTC.💪

  6. Tyler Ehh Avatar
    Tyler Ehh

    Yep. After effects caused a lot of issues for me haha. The explanation they gave me was so ridiculous.