@Adobe Lost a Customer Today

@Adobe is a case study in what is wrong with corporate America:  remaining insulated from its current and potential  customers, apparently internally disconnected, charging high prices, outsourcing customer service that is ill-equiped or forbidden by corporate policy to solve a problem, having policies that disregard the needs of prospective customers on a software product that retails for a whopping $1,000.

The Story

I am interested in using After Effects to reduce flicker in time lapse projects.  I downloaded the trial version on a fresh and completely up-to-date Mac 10.6.6 system.  I get an error message when I launch the application:  After Effects error: invalid DICT array size ( 83 :: 2 ).  The error message is not documented in the After Effects forums.  These are the google search results for the error.  Not helpful, I know.  Neither is Adobe.

Adobe After Effects 10.0 Error Message

I called support (which happens to be in New Dehli, India).  The first support person was immediately unhelpful and said Adobe doesn’t support the trial version of After Effects.  I have to purchase it first, then call back with a serial number.  I assured him I wouldn’t purchase a $1,000 piece of software unless I first knew it would meet my needs.  He said I would have 30 days to return the software if it didn’t.  He wasn’t even kidding.

I called back thinking I might have just gotten someone who was having a bad day.  The next guy was very nice.  He tried to help by making sure I had downloaded the latest version.  Apparently that’s all he was qualified to do.  There was a minor point update.  It had the same issue.  He referred me to the After Effects group, though he said they probably would not help me.  Indeed.  They said they don’t support trial versions.  First, I had to buy the $1,000 software that I know doesn’t work on my machine.  Good grief.

Does this make any sense?!  Buy something you know will not work.  Then, get the support you need to get it to work:  maybe, maybe not???

I called sales to find out to whom I should send an email suggesting Adobe’s policy was bad business practice that discouraged potential customers from purchasing Adobe’s products.  This person assured me she could connect me to a support person that would get the software up and working on my machine.  She connected me.  As we got started, I was disconnected.  On purpose?

I called sales back.  This person then sent me to customer service.

The customer service fellow insisted that Adobe does provide support for trial products and asked me to hold after I told him a summary of my story.  He came back and went through the long explanation about how Adobe doesn’t support trial versions of their software.  I told him that I already had told him all of that and only wanted to know to whom I could send an email about what I considered to be a bad business practice in Adobe’s policy.  Numerous times I was placed on hold for extended periods of time, I’m talking 10 – 15 minutes each if not more.  He would return by saying, “Are you still there?”

Finally, after wasting about 3.5 hours on what should have been a simple issue to address, I was directed to their web site to a buried web form where I could request a feature or report a bug.

No wonder Adobe had to shut down for a month or more last year.  If they treat their potential customers like this, how do they treat their paying customers?  They deserve to go out of business.  When they work, their products are industry standards, but this pre-purchase support experience was crap.

In case you want to report a bug or request a feature in Adobe’s software, here’s the link.

Useless!  Completely useless!!  Shame on @Adobe!


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6 Responses to @Adobe Lost a Customer Today

  1. Todd Kopriva February 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    The best place to ask questions like this is on the After Effects forum. Several members of the After Effects team (including me) answer questions there. If you come on over, we’ll try to help:
    http://forums.adobe.com/community/aftereffects_general_discussion

    • Tim February 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

      Thank you, Todd, for your suggestion. I’ll post the issue there.

      Well, the horror story continues. I appreciated Todd’s suggestion and went to the URL he provided. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to post a question to the forum, which, again, contains no information about this error message.

      I thought that perhaps I had to use my Adobe login information to post a question. That would be reasonable. I did. Below is a screenshot of the page my login returns. (Click to enlarge)

      • Todd Kopriva February 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

        Well, crud.

        If you send me your email address (the one that you used to sign in to the forum), I’ll see if I can find out what happened with your AdobeID. You can send it to me at kopriva at adobe dot com.

        The reason that there isn’t any information about this error message is that it a) isn’t that common and b) is a somewhat broad message that only indicates roughly where the problem is arising.

        It’s a Friday night, so getting information from the relevant software engineer right away isn’t guaranteed, but I’m looking into it.

      • Tim February 18, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

        I’ve sent you the email address you requested, and I sincerely appreciate Adobe’s efforts, specifically your efforts as an Adobe employee, to help with this issue.

  2. Todd Kopriva February 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    OK, so the issue with your forum account should be fixed. I just had to flip a switch. Now, if you bring the issue to the forum, we’ll be able to get the right eyes on the issue.

    • Tim February 18, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      I’ve posted the issue to the forum. Again, thank you.