Home Science Technology U.S. Government Sues Adobe Over Subscription Cancellation Practices

U.S. Government Sues Adobe Over Subscription Cancellation Practices

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The US government has filed a lawsuit against Adobe, accusing the software giant of making it difficult for customers to cancel subscriptions and hiding expensive fees.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the complaint on Monday, alleging that Adobe has misled consumers by enrolling them in its most profitable subscription plans without clearly disclosing critical terms. The lawsuit claims Adobe conceals the details of its annual, paid monthly plan in fine print, optional textboxes, and hyperlinks, failing to inform users about early termination fees that can reach hundreds of dollars.

According to the DOJ, Adobe imposes a complex and burdensome cancellation process, requiring customers to navigate multiple webpages and pop-ups. The complaint also alleges that Adobe surprises customers with hefty termination fees, discouraging them from canceling their subscriptions.

The DOJ further claims that customers face similar challenges when attempting to cancel subscriptions over the phone or via live chats. The complaint states that calls or chats are often dropped or disconnected, forcing subscribers to repeat their cancellation requests. These practices, the DOJ asserts, violate federal consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit also targets Adobe executives Maninder Sawhney, Senior Vice President of Digital Go-to-Market and Sales, and David Wadhwani, President of Adobe’s Digital Media business. The complaint alleges that both executives were involved in or had the authority to control Adobe’s subscription practices. Adobe has not yet responded to requests for comment.

“Adobe trapped customers into year-long subscriptions through hidden early termination fees and numerous cancellation hurdles,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Americans are tired of companies hiding the ball during subscription signup and then putting up roadblocks when they try to cancel.” The federal government began investigating Adobe’s cancellation practices late last year.

In 2012, Adobe transitioned from selling its creative software for lifetime use to a subscription model, offering products like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign on a monthly or yearly basis. This shift has long frustrated many creatives, who feel compelled to maintain their subscriptions to continue their work. Recently, Adobe faced backlash over new terms of service, which some interpreted as allowing the company to train its AI using users’ art.

The lawsuit highlights ongoing regulatory scrutiny of Adobe. In 2022, Adobe’s attempted $20 billion acquisition of the product design platform Figma was abandoned after encountering antitrust concerns from European regulators.

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