tl;dr: 1) Look up your Creative Cloud order number on the “My Orders” page; 2) Click here, answer the annoying questions and scroll to the bottom to chat with an agent to have the agent cancel your account. And have a cup of coffee ready, because this process will still take about 10 minutes, even if you have all your information at hand.
Long version of the story: This month, Adobe decided to stop selling boxed software and to go with an all-subscription model. That’s fine with me, at least in theory: I understand the appeal of a subscription model from the viewpoint of the software vendor (and for certain types of customers). I have actually been on a Creative Cloud subscription for the past 11 months. But I’m not really a heavy Creative Cloud user (I use Fireworks 3-4 times a week, Dreamweaver maybe once a month, and Photoshop a few times a year). Since Adobe is end-of-lifeing Fireworks, I’m not getting enough value to justify a $348/year subscription cost, particularly since Sketch appears to be a good-enough alternative to Fireworks for me.
So, I decided to cancel Creative Cloud. Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, it’s very difficult to cancel Adobe Creative Cloud. First, even finding where you’re supposed to manage your Creative Cloud account on Adobe’s convoluted web site is a challenge. There’s a Creative Cloud Plan Information page that contains a cancellation link, but that link doesn’t actually cancel your plan:
This page also unhelpfully doesn’t contain your order number, which Adobe’s customer service needs to kill your subscription. In addition, they make you talk to a human to cancel your plan. But before you can do that, you get to go through their automated Customer Support shark-infested moat (which, unhelpfully, redirects you back to your Creative Cloud Plan Information page, which in turn directs you to contact Adobe Customer Support in an endless loop). Genius.
So after a few go-rounds and another ten minutes wasted, I got into chat with Adobe support. Here’s the transcript of our chat:
info: All representatives are actively assisting other customers. There are 1 customer(s) in line ahead of you. Thank you for your patience. info: You are now chatting with Saroj. Saroj: Hello! Welcome to Adobe Customer Service. Jeffrey: hi there. Saroj: Hi Jeffrey. Jeffrey: Can you assist me with cancelling my Creative Cloud subscription? Saroj: As I understand you would like to cancel your subscription,am I correct? Jeffrey: That is exactly what I just said. Saroj: Thank you for the confirmation. Saroj: Let me see what best I can do for your help. Saroj: May I have the order number,please? Jeffrey: I have no idea what the order number is. I purchased this a year ago. Jeffrey: I'm looking at https://creative.adobe.com/
account/plans and it doesn't list the order number anywhere. Saroj: Login to your Adobe account. Go to My Adobe, then click on My Orders. Saroj: You will be able to find your order number. Jeffrey: AD00XXXXXXX Jeffrey: Really surprised this information isn't on https://creative.adobe.com/ account/plans and even more surprised that the "Cancel" link on this page doesn't actually cancel the subscription. It's almost as if Adobe is making it intentionally difficult to cancel. Saroj: Thank you for the order number. Saroj: I apologize for the inconvenience caused in this regard. We will surely take this as a feedback and will work towards to improve on our services. Jeffrey: Terrific. Saroj: If you cancel your subscription now,there will be the cancellation charge of US $15. Saroj: Would you like me to cancel this now? Jeffrey: Why will there be a cancellation charge? Saroj: The annual plan you enrolled in offers lower monthly payments and requires a one-year commitment.This plan is ideal for someone with an ongoing need to use Adobe's Creative software. If you decide to end your subscription before the one-year period is over, you no longer qualify for one-year subscription pricing.You will be billed at 50% of your monthly rate for the remaining months in your annual contract." Jeffrey: Lovely. Let's go ahead and cancel. Saroj: I understand that you would like to cancel your membership, and I will take care of that for you. However, would you be willing to maintain your membership through your annual commitment & avoid the cancellation fee if I offer you the next month of your membership for free? Jeffrey: I'd like you to cancel immediately, and if you don't do it in the next 30 seconds, I'll call my bank and have them reverse the charges. Is that clear? Jeffrey: This has already wasted 15 minutes of my time and it should only have taken four seconds. Saroj: I was just trying to help you out. Jeffrey: You're not helping me by wasting my time. Saroj: Anyway please stay online while I cancel your subscription. Jeffrey: Hey, what choice do I have. I understand that deleting a row from a database takes a lot of time. Saroj: Sorry for the wait. Please do stay online. Saroj: I have successfully cancelled your subscription for order number AD00XXXXXXX. Saroj: Is there anything else I can help you with? Jeffrey: Spectacular. No, there's nothing else, other than making the cancellation process available from the web site without my having to spend 10 minutes searching for it and another 10 minutes dealing with a person to cancel. Saroj: I apologize if this experience with us has been unsatisfactory. Saroj: Have a great day! Saroj: Thank you for contacting Adobe. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Goodbye! Jeffrey: Adios.
So, from this, it’s clear why they require you to talk to a customer service agent; it’s a sales tactic intended to keep you on their subscription plan. But there’s a cost to this: my time, a resource I can never get back. When a corporation wastes my time needlessly, I remember it for many years (looking at you, United Airlines and Sony). A process that should take about 10 seconds (log in, find the link to cancel your subscription, and click it) takes about 15 minutes. And this delay is, in a sense, punitive: Adobe hopes you will lose interest and back off the cancellation process if the cancellation process is sufficiently painful; making the cancellation process easier costs them money in the form of lost subscriptions.
But for Adobe, there are risks to this strategy as well. In years past, AOL (the original gangster of the shark-infested-moat subscription business model) got itself into serious legal trouble by making it difficult or impossible to cancel the service in a reasonable period of time. I’m certain that Adobe will find itself in the same place if it doesn’t address its process for canceling subscriptions as the company moves to a 100% subscription-based model.