American FTC sues Adobe for ‘trapping’ customers in year-long subscriptions

American FTC sues Adobe for ‘trapping’ customers in year-long subscriptions

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is dragging Adobe and its board members to court. The regulator accuses the company of holding its customers hostage through undisclosed cancellation fees and throwing up an overly complicated process for ending subscriptions.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Adobe makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for customers to end their subscriptions early. This is said to put users in a kind of lock-in, the document states, from which they have difficulty getting out.

The regulator describes that when customers subscribe to Adobe’s services, they must go through a long, arduous process. During this cumbersome process, the software vendor ensures that it does not always make it clear that customers are making a commitment to pay for a year’s worth of services. Nor does it disclose the costs they will incur if they terminate this subscription early. These “cancellation fees” can run into the hundreds of dollars.

When customers want to cancel their subscription, Adobe also makes them go through a complicated cancellation process. The roadblocks include having to re-enter the password and navigate through multiple pop-up screens. The discontinuation process is definitely frustrating in this way, but it is up to the courts whether this is permissible.

Fight against lock-ins

According to the FTC, Americans are tired of being trapped in these subscriptions. It also wants to ensure that the unexpected extra charges are stopped, in addition to the associated complicated processes to handle the stopping.

Also noteworthy in this case is that the suit also sues two members of Adobe management. These are SVP of Digital Go-to-Market & Sales Maninder Sawhney and president of Abobe’s digital business, David Wadhwani.

Adobe’s response

In a very brief response, Adobe says it denies all of the U.S. competition regulator’s allegations. According to the company, it is transparent in the terms and conditions of its subscriptions. It says it has a simple and straightforward termination process. Adobe is confident it can refute the allegations in court. When the lawsuit will be in court in California is not yet known.

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