Adobe fails the customer service test. Miserably.

Wow.

That’s the only word I can use to describe the Adobe customer service experience I just had. And not in a good way. So here’s the recap:

I use an Intel-based MacBook Pro for work. I need to buy Photoshop CS2 to do some of my graphics tasks. I’ve hesitated to spend $700+ dollars on CS2, since it doesnt have Universal support (i.e. optimized for the Intel chips). Adobe has just posted the CS3 beta, which has Universal support, which requires a CS2 serial number to use. Fair enough, I can live with the serial number limitation.

But I didn’t want to spend $700+ on CS2, only to have to spend another $700+ when CS3 launches in "Spring 2007" (according the Adobe Web site). After spending 20 minutes digging around the Adobe Web site to find info on the licensing issues, I gave up and called the 800 number.

The phone system gave me four options, one of which was general customer service. I chose this option and was immediately given hold music. No message that I was being transferred, no notification of hold time, nothing. After waiting 40 minutes, I hung up. I called back and this time selected product sales. My hold time? 1 minute. Priorities are clear, no?

I was asked for my name (clearly in preparation for kicking off an ordering process I wasn’t ready to start), and instead responded "Actually, I just have a quick licensing question". I posed my question and was told that there would be a $169 upgrade fee when CS3 came out. I asked if I could avoid this extra upgrade fee if I waited a bit longer, thus closer to the launch of CS3. She said no, because they didn’t know when the product would launch. I made a comment about it being listed on the site as "Spring 2007", so perhaps I should wait until early 2007?

This is when things really went off the rails.

The rep, a female named Tony/Toni got really irritated. She said she wouldn’t leak information and potentially lose her job. (To be clear, I made no request, overt or covert, for her to leak anything) I told her I was just referring to information listed on Adobe.com. Almost as though she’d never heard me say this, she launched into a fairly harsh response, explaining that the standard product cycle for Creative Studio is 1 – 1.5 years. This therefore means  CS3 is at least a year away from launch, and how nothing formal had been announced about CS3. (Jake’s note: Other than the ability to download the CS3 beta currently on Adobe.com)

From here the conversation fell apart quickly, reaching a point where I asked: "I’m sorry but I have upset you in some way?". She responded that she was simply upset she couldn’t answer my questions to my satisfaction and how she didn’t even know who she was talking to (remember – I skipped over the formal information collecting stage). Both of these points were made in the same overly irritated tone that she had now adopted.

Quite honestly, this is exactly what I expected from Adobe. This is exactly the experience I’ve had with Adobe for years. This type of behavior towards consumers is exactly what I had feared when Adobe bought Macromedia. I hear from my former Macromedia, now Adobe employee friends that Adobe has made a real effort to keep the amazing consumer focus that Macromedia was always able to pull off. I don’t see it, at least not in the customer service department.

Boy, I’m really excited now to spend nearly a $1000 ($700+$169+taxes and shipping) on a single piece of software. Would someone be willing to kick me in the head while enter my credit card number on amazon in order to complete the overall experience?

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