US govt sues Adobe: Allegations of deceptive subscription practices

Government is pursuing “injunctive relief, civil penalties, equitable monetary relief, along with other relief"
An undated image of Adobe office. — Getty Images
An undated image of Adobe office. — Getty Images

The US Department of Justice has filed a case against Adobe claiming that the company misleads users by hiding the early-termination fee and making it hard for people to unsubscribe from the membership.

The DOJ stated: “Adobe has harmed consumers by enrolling them in its default, most lucrative subscription plan without clearly disclosing important plan terms.”

The government said that Adobe forced consumers toward the “annual paid monthly” subscription without notifying them that unsubscribing the plan in the first year would cost hundreds of dollars.

The complaint said that the company only unfolded the early-termination fees when subscribers tried to cancel, and turned the early-termination fee into a “powerful retention tool” by trapping consumers in subscriptions that they no longer want.

Read more: Creatives fed up with Adobe and other tech giants

According to the case, during enrollment, "Adobe hides material terms of its APM plan in fine print and behind option textboxes and hyperlinks, proving disclosures that are designed to go unnoticed and that most consumers never see,."

"Adobe then deters cancellations by employing an onerous and complicated cancellation process.”

Adobe said that it plans to refute the claims in court. “Subscription services are convenient, flexible and cost-effective to allow users to choose the plan that best fits their needs, timeline and budget,” stated Adobe’s General Counsel and Chief Trust Officer Dana Rao, “Our priority is to always ensure our customers have a positive experience. We are transparent with the terms and conditions of our subscription agreements and have a simple cancellation process.”

The DOJ’s complaint said that Adobe has breached federal laws designed to protect consumers. The government is pursuing “injunctive relief, civil penalties, equitable monetary relief, along with other relief.”

According to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), subscriptions account for most of the company’s revenue, which released a similar case against Amazon last year, stating that “knowingly” complicates the capability of customers of its Prime service to unsubscribe their subscriptions.