I have been a very satisfied customer of Adobe for many years. I'm sharing my most recent experience to serve as a warning to others, so that they do not get taken advantage of the way I have been.
Last year, in the midst of a relatively new launch of my business, I found I needed a PDF creator for interaction with my clients. There are many free, work-around solutions online, but, as a loyal user of Adobe Reader, and out of concern for high quality, I felt it was important to patronize the company and use an authorized solution.
On April 13, 2009, I subscribed to PDF Online, a service I had used in the past at other companies. The online subscription is $99.99 per year and facilitates conversion of documents into .pdf.
By July of 2009, I found that PDF Online was insufficient to meet the needs of my business. I took the decision to upgrade to Adobe Acrobat Pro for $450. This was a big expense for my business at the time, but I knew it was the right decision for me. I have been a very satisfied customer of Adobe Acrobat Pro since July of 2009.
Last week, I received a charge on my credit card for $99.99, auto-renewing PDF Online. I was surprised. I had not logged in to use this service in almost a year. Acrobat Pro has been meeting all of my needs. I forgot I even had a subscription. I hadn't received any kind of communication from Adobe reminding me that I had the service. I immediately logged in to cancel the subscription and request a refund.
Since last week, I've been on at least four customer service calls and two chat sessions to attempt to refund the $99.99. On one of the chats, I had finally been told that I would receive a refund. After a few days of waiting without seeing the refund on my card, I contacted Adobe again. I received an email with a PDF attachment that said:
"With regards to your concern, I really regret to tell you this but unfortnately you request for refund was not approved. These kinds of subscriptions are non-refundable and that is clearly stated on the Terms of Condition and Use which you agreed upon by the time that you subscribe to the service. You actually have the full capability to stop this auto renewal subscription if you wish to do so."
At the bottom of the email is a message that says, "You may reply to this email or call us at 1 800 833 6687 for your response." It's a circular loop! The email address is a "noreply" address, so you cannot reply. I called the 800 number again tonight and a message said I would have a wait time of between 1 and 3 minutes. I was on hold for over 30 minutes before giving up.
This is a terrible business practice:
- I have been a happy customer, and upgraded to premium products. I'm now very dissatisfied and looking for alternatives.
- If, by chance, the credit card I had had on file with Adobe had expired before last week, they would not have been able to charge my card. I'm guessing I would have been contacted by Adobe to renew. Of course, I would have chosen not to renew.
- I am suspicious of any online subscription business that practices auto-renewing without contacting customers. I never would have expected a large and highly respected company like Adobe to engage in such a practice.
What I have learned from this experience is, customers beware. Even a highly trusted brand like Adobe is still more interested in taking your money than providing a service.