@madpilot makes

Bad customer support = Unhappy campers

I do a lot of front end development, and as a result, I use Adobe Photoshop a lot. I also use Acrobat Professional frequently and Flash and Illustrator enough to warrant purchasing the full Design Premium package. Said Design Premium Package is pretty expensive, so to spread my costs, I’m using the subscription edition. Recently, I had to change my subscription plan, so I cancelled it, and re-subscribed, and so begins my trip down the rabbit hole that is Adobe Support.

Because I had paid for my subscription online, and opted for the downloadable version, I should have received a serial number in my email. I didn’t. Thankfully CS4 goes in to trial mode, so I could still use it whilst I sorted out the serial problem. Time to call Adobe…

Firstly, it was neigh on impossible to find the Australian support number on their website – when ever you try to access support, it defaults to you the US – I assume because the subscription edition doesn’t have an Australian number. Thankfully, one of my friends had general support number in her rolodex.I call the number, and after 45 minutes on hold listening to horrific elevator muzak, I get through to the product activations. The operator was polite enough – but they have to be – the script they are reading would demand it. I give them my email address (and say yes to allowing them to contact me on it), and then give them my phone number in case I get disconnected. After the operator goes through the rest of their script, she realises that actually I need a different department, and asks if she can transfer me. Whilst I would have though that to be an obvious solution, I play along. Phone goes dead.

I can see why they ask for your number. I left it 10 minutes to  see if they would call back. Nadda. So I call them back, another 30 minutes on hold, plus 5 minutes going through the tier-1 product activation script, and the next customer server representative transfers me through. Finally I get to the right department – Subscriptions.Unfortunately, the tier-1 subscriptions customer service representative can’t help with missing serial codes, so they take down for phone number and email address (for the 3rd time) and setup an open case in their support console, in preparation for a tier-2 support officer.Now, I play the waiting game. By this stage Christmas has come and I’m away and forget about CS4 for the moment. Due to inactivity (on their part, mind you) it would seem that they closed the job off. Result: No serial number.

I get back from Christmas, and call up again – by this stage I only have a week left on my trial, so I need to get this sorted quick smart. I go through the exact same steps as above (including the phone disconnection), and once again, a ticket gets opened. After 48 hours, I leave a message following up, as I still have no reply. After 5 more working days (By this stage my trial has finished), I ring back. They ask for my case number, which I give them, which returns a completely different customer case. After giving them my email AGAIN, they find it, and transfer me through to subscriptions. Magically, the service agent finds me a serial number and give it to me. Unfortunately, the downloaded version of the subscription trial requires a serial number with only numbers. The one she gives me has letters. Her reasoning behind this is because I didn’t install it off the DVD.

So, I’ve just uninstalled CS4, and I’m waiting for it to reinstall, which has taken (so far) about an hour. I tell you what, the serial number better be right, or shit will hit the fan.To be continued…

UPDATE: It’s the wrong serial number.

UPDATE 2: I’m once again waiting for tier-2 or tier to email me back.

UPDATE 3: Well, it’s all sorted now! It turns out that the subscription pack is being trialled in Australia, so Adobe hasn’t quite got the process down yet (They might want to make this a little more obvious…). The issue I had was resolved by circumnavigating the Adobe store, and just using the eSellerate console to purchase the new subscription. So all is well that ends well – I’ve provided my feedback, so hopefully this drama will conclude with a better user experience for subscription customers.

Thank you to everyone involved in helping to fix the issue: AJ Mercer,  Brett Favour, @Adobe_Bing and Kirsten Harris. Special mention too to Tian Cheng and Nick Hodge for making some noise through their personal networks too.


  1. soo. hows that fan looking? ^_^
  2. Dirty.
  3. :/
  4. When I log into Adobe, I have an option to view my serial numbers online... do you not have that option?

    It even lists subscriptions serials (I have none, so nothing is listed).

  5. Yep - mine is emtpy
  6. Hi, can you please email me your ticket number and contact information? I would like to see if I can help.

  7. I should start charging big bucks for that number out of my rolodex...

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