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FTC sues Adobe for making subscription cancellations difficult

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  • 3 min read

Adobe has been criticized by the US government’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for not properly disclosing the expensive termination fees for cancelling its subscriptions, which makes it difficult for users to cancel subscriptions in the first place. The lawsuit takes issue with the software giant burying hidden fees behind “optional textboxes and hyperlinks” and failing to disclose the right pricing.

The two primary issues the FTC took up involve attempts to hide the early termination fee for its annual plan (paid monthly) “that can amount to hundreds of dollars,” according to the complaint. On top of that, when customers attempt to cancel, the process is “onerous and complicated,” involving multiple webpages and pop-ups, finally ‘ambushing’ users with an early termination fee to discourage them from cancelling the subscription.

For those going to Adobe support to cancel their subscription hoping to avoid the hassle of navigating complex websites, the experience isn’t any better. The complaint adds that customers have had their calls either dropped or disconnected and often have to re-explain the reason for calling when they reconnect, essentially starting the process from scratch.

Adobe execs Maninder Sawhney and David Wadhwani, the senior vice president of digital market and sales and the digital media business president, respectively, are also under fire. The complaint blames both executives for Adobe’s practices, claiming they had “participated in the acts and practices of Adobe”.

As for the software giant itself, Adobe’s general counsel and chief trust officer issued the following statement.

“Subscription services are convenient, flexible and cost effective to allow users to choose the plan that best fits their needs, timeline and budget. Our priority is to always ensure our customers have a positive experience. We are transparent with the terms and conditions of our subscription agreements and have a simple cancellation process. We will refute the FTC’s claims in court.”

It appears that Adobe is gearing up for yet another court battle. In 2022, it was fresh off the antitrust scrutiny from European regulators when it attempted to acquire product design platform Figma for $20 billion.

Adobe switched from selling its now-labelled Creative Cloud suite of applications as a lifetime use to monthly or annual subscriptions back in 2012 and has faced scrutiny for the move since. Its terms of service have also often been criticised, including the recent update to said terms, which users misinterpreted as an opportunity for the company to train its Firefly AI models on user data, indicating the lack of trust users have in Adobe’s products and practices.

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: