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Opinion: How Adobe Creative Cloud left me amused, perplexed and infuriated

James Nolan, founder of Stoke Ripley Creative, gives his experiences of moving to Adobe Creative Cloud - and dealing with Adobe's customer service who asked him to shut down his business for a day.

Earlier this week Adobe announced they were moving from traditional boxed software in favour of Creative Cloud, their full subscription-based equivalent. Adobe maintained that many customers had already made the transition to Creative Cloud and "had no intention of looking back".

Well, as one of the early up-takers I'd like to poke my annoying and fuzzy fissog into the current debate and try to make them aware that - based on my recent experiences with Adobe - and specifically their customer service - I'm not feeling as excited by the prospect of CC in the same way they are. I agree, the idea of the Creative Cloud is a tremendous one, so whilst I'm certainly not looking back, it would seem, neither am I looking forward.

I'm rather a busy man these days and I'm sure you've got stuff to get on with, so I'll spare you my full thoughts on the Adobe website - which I abhor - my problems with the company to date and its ridiculous need to release seemingly pointless and expensive incompatible updates every few months.

Suffice to say, I got fed up having to buy boxed software every time we grew as a studio a quite while ago. So when I found out about their original subscription service I was more than happy to buy multiple licenses on a monthly basis, which came with free upgrades. And then again on launch purchase multiple licences to the new and improved Adobe Cloud, receiving a favourable rate as an early up-taker.

Everyone I spoke to at Adobe so far has been very polite and rather delightful. Fucking incompetent, but delightful.

Trying to manage these accounts online through the Adobe site has been so intensely infuriating and dreadful that it's a minor miracle I haven't snapped and started to randomly slap and verbally abuse my juniors. You know, like we use to be able to. (On a side note an art director once twisted my left nipple so hard it was a deep purple for two weeks. Oh, the good old days).

Anyway, all of these purchases were completed through my own account on the Adobe website and paid on a monthly basis. Earlier this week I decided to upgrade our freelance machine to the full Creative Suite, so again with heavy heart I logged into my Adobe account and attempted to purchase a new license. Nothing doing, I eventually made the decision to call Adobe and attempt to purchase a license again on my account over the phone.

In doing this I learnt two new things"

You're not allowed to purchase multiple licenses on an individual account. The initial cheap rate I received is for access to InDesign only, and not the full Creative Suite.

In return, Adobe also learnt two new things.

You can purchase multiple licenses on an individual account (I did). The initial cheap rate did, in fact, give you the full Creative Suite.

Imagine their surprise. Since I set up Stoke Ripley four years ago, we've tried to do everything by the book - we've never even had a single case of sore nipple - so I agreed to upgrade the account to a Cloud Account for Teams with multiple seats, (seats are the trendy cloud term for licenses). This was going to cost a lot more per month but would apparently mean I could manage the account properly and each seat will receive 100GB of storage in the cloud. The Adobe sales team were very happy to take my payment and advised that I should wait 24 hours before contacting customer service so that my new Cloud services would be set up and I could then cancel my current subscriptions without any disruption.

As I said, I'm a busy man, and don't hold with such rules - so 23 hours and 30 minutes later I called Adobe customer service so they could talk me through the process required for me to be able to 'invite the seats' and close down the old licenses. After a rather long discussion about my circumstances they informed me of two things. I know, I said. You're going to be surprised, I said.

Hanging on the telephone

After following their instructions to the letter, my online account still refused to show me any means of inviting seats. In fact, nothing had changed - it just looked like the cloud interface I have been using with the cheap single-user version. After divulging to Adobe exactly what machine and operating system I use - why? it's cloud based - and after swapping between Safari, Firefox and Opera they eventually gave up on the idiot they were dealing with and decided to take matters into their own hands.

So it was with great curiosity that I remotely handed over the reigns to my machine and watched as the mouse darted between the two same options I had been clicking on their own website: Account and Actions.

The whole process took over an hour. The rapid movement of the mouse broken only by an apologetically long silence which I can only assume was used by the call centre employee to either try to get help from a colleague or fill out a CV for more meaningful employment. Eventually the sound of shoulders being shrugged emanated down the phone line and he gave me his astounding solution.

Wait for it, it's genius.

He requested that I delete all the Creative Suite software that I currently have legitimate licenses for and then Adobe will see if they can get my Team Cloud account running - wherein we would have to download and re-install all our software. I'd worry about doing this if it was just me at home working part-time. But to stop my studio from working for what surely would be at least a day is madness. All this just so I can pay more for what I already have.

I have currently declined their offer of closing my company and making myself bankrupt and in return they have said they will get back to me with another solution. Of course, I'm sure I could just set up another account and do it that way, but then I'd have to make up and remember another password and that's a whole other kettle of twisted nipples.

I would like to add as a footnote that everyone I spoke to at Adobe so far has been very polite and rather delightful. Fucking incompetent, but delightful.


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