How Adobe Is Strong-Arming Customers Into Subscription Plans

 

bait and switch

If you’ve purchased the boxed version of Adobe Captivate 6 or the eLearning Suite 6, you probably didn’t realize that Adobe was going to withhold critical updates and bug fixes from you unless you were a subscription customer, or a company with an ASA plan (Adobe Software Assurance).  In fact, this change in “policy” was done in the middle of current release and surprised many loyal paying customers:

Complaint

 

How Do You Get The Update?

You’ll need to fork over more money.  If you’re a corporate or educational customer, you’ll need to purchase an additional ASA plan.  If you’re an individual or small business who purchased the boxed version… you’ll need to re-purchase under the subscription plan.  There is currently no way for someone who purchased the boxed version to convert to a subscription plan without re-purchasing.

Bait and Switch

Adobe’s Bait & Switch Tactics

When users purchased the boxed version, no where did it say that critical updates and bug fixes would be withheld from these customers.  But Adobe carefully changed their phrasing from “patch” or “update” to what they’re marketing as “early access release” to new features.  Unfortunately, it’s not just new features, but critical bug fixes as well which leaves many existing customers in the dark.

Can They Get Away With This?

Legally speaking… yes.  Remember that license agreement you glazed over when you installed Captivate?  In section 5 under “Updates” it reads:

Additional Updates may be licensed to Customer by Adobe with additional or different terms.

Translation?  You’re SCREWED!  You’ve been duped by Adobe’s sleazy car salesman!

SleezyCarSalesman

The Impact

Customers walk away from a product either because a promise was not fulfilled or the product did not match initial perception.  Adobe failed us on both accounts.  It is certainly to Adobe’s benefit to manage the perception of the Captivate brand and to meet or exceed those expectations.  But the bottom line is THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU!  The number of customers affected was negligible and they took the gamble.

But there’s more ramifications than just pissed-off customers:

  • Trust:  People will not continue buy from a company they can’t trust.  Articulate Storyline is Adobe Captivate’s main competitor and people are already making the move to a company they can trust.  For customers who stay with Adobe, they’ll be more reluctant to purchase in the future knowing that Adobe now has a track record of changing the terms half-way into the game.  Think your subscription cost won’t go up?  Thank again! 
  • eLearning Businesses:  Will no longer be able to support customers with “Legacy” versions of Captivate if they go on the subscription plan.  Have a customer who has a box version Captivate 6.0 and you’re on subscription Captivate v. 7.x?  Sorry… you either turn down the business or tell the customer to upgrade.
  • Widget Developers:  Are in the same boat as eLearning Businesses.  In addition, they have to ensure that their widgets work with the latest release.  This forces Widget Developers onto the subscription plan… yet unable to support customers who have legacy versions of Captivate.
  • Government or Educational Customers:  Some laws and regulations prohibit month-to-month subscription based licensing.  These customers are out of luck.

How Adobe Can Make This Better

It’s simple:  Provide a path that would allow existing box customers to become subscription customers.  Since box customers already paid in full… why not give them the option to “convert” their account to subscription giving them the first year free (It’s not really free since they already initially paid up front).

Allow Government and Educational entities to pay for a year of “subscription” licensing up front.  This would alleviate the laws that prohibit month-to-month subscription fees.

For The Record

Adobe should have waited till the initial 7.0 release to impose these changes.  Doing it half-way into a current release was really bad PR.  If Adobe truly cared, they could make this right.  Only time will tell.

What Do You Think?

Drop a comment and voice your opinion.  We’d love to hear how this impacts you.  There’s also more conversations going on at LinkedIn, Adobe Captivate Blog, LinkedIn Announcement, Adobe Captivate Forums.

 

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  • Paul Wakelam

    Thanks for this blog it expresses my reactions perfectly and i have been emailing adobe for 8 months
    I thought I would be ok as I had bought the small business version of the CLP license called TLP which allowed you to biy maintrenance BUT
    - they arent allowing you to add ASA to TLP
    - you can’t renew your maintenance on TLP
    - you cant buy new TLP licences
    - To buy CLP you have to spend 10000 points/$ of new software

    • JimLeichliter

      Paul Wakelam : I wonder why they’re not allowing you to purchase ASA on TLP or even convert? Why does Adobe have such strange and stringent policies? It’s fairly obvious that they’re not an “end user” centric company. Their focus is on big government customers, not end users or small business. It’s sad to be treated like this, but I suppose we are small fish in their big pond of customers. They can afford to blow us off and not feel the financial ramifications. However, I really do think they underestimate us. Our voices have influence way beyond the individual. For example, the Australian government is probing Adobe (and others) on why Australian users have to pay so much more than US customers.

      http://www.afterdawn.com/news/article.cfm/2013/02/11/australia_to_grill_apple_microsoft_and_adobe_on_high_prices

      • James Raynes

        Jim,
        Reading your feedback on Captivate 7, it sounds like you were pleasently surprised?

        • CaptivateDev.com

          @ James Raynes: Captivate 7 is better, but it doesn’t excuse the terrible way Adobe handled the “upgrade” process. Customers don’t forget how they’ve been treated.

  • Patricia A Machun

    So annoyed by this. I sent an email to Shameer, he emailed me that someone from Adobe would contact me regarding their ASA program—no one did.

    • Rimmer

      Same happened to me.. promises with no action

  • http://twitter.com/Ackeral Alice Acker

    Jim. Bravo for calling them on the carpet for this. My emails to my usually reliable Adobe contacts have gone unanswered. I echo what you stated about backwards compatability with clients (I still keep Version 4 around for “just in case” testing). I also am a sole proprietor and the expenditure for eLS 6 was significant I asked Adobe to be grandfathered in this time. It would make good business sense to make us happy and shut us up. We also could likely embrace the subscription plan if we had a “spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down”

    • JimLeichliter

      @twitter-34314765:disqus : I couldn’t agree more Alice. I wish they would have waited to Cp 7.0 or even 6.5 to make this change. It would have made more business sense. I also keep previous Cp versions around… but looks like that will have to change for everyone. I really hope Adobe changes their “policy” on this. It’s hurt a lot of people…

  • http://twitter.com/TallisOnly Tallis Only

    Everything you have written is true. Articulate is looking much more attractive. The fact is that Adobe Captivate 6 a half-baked solution with so many bugs that it is a joke to try to get anything accomplished without ridiculous work-arounds and trouble-shooting.

    • JimLeichliter

      @twitter-105908796:disqus : It’s true that Captivate 6 has been THE most buggy version since v. 1.0. I’m hoping that Adobe can do better with v. 6.5 and 7.0. However, they have a history of not fixing bugs in favor of rushing new features out the door so that they can ironically remain “competitive”. You may think that from my posts that I’m an Adobe Captivate “hater”, but the whole purpose is to prod Adobe into making Captivate better and to call them on the carpet when they hurt their own customers. Adobe has also faced some financial challenges, layoffs, limited resources and I can understand why they want customers to move to a subscription model. However, I don’t agree with their tactics or timing.

      • Rimmer

        Adobe 6.5 .. a mere $100,00.00 “update”… Since when do WE pay for the application creators to fix their already unstable product ?

  • Steve Beard

    I agree with everything said here. I’ve been buying the boxed eLearning suite since Ver 1 came out – only to get screwed by Adobe policies. I called Adobe about how to get the updates and bug fixes last week and was promised a call back. Its a week later now and no call from Adobe. I’m preparing to start training on Articulate.

  • Raymond P.

    Jim,

    I agree with all you have proposed.. I’ve been learning this product as an upgrade path in my company, so unless i fork out more money, now, I will be behind the learning curve.

    As a side note, I purchased an upgrade to Adobe CS 5.5 production suit in April 2012. They offered a free upgrade to CS6 if you purchased the CS 5.5 before a certain date. I’m thinking this is a good deal for me. I’m not a professional, so I don’t use these products on a day to day basis. To make a long story short, because I didn’t download the free CS 6 upgrade by the specified date, they refused to let me upgrade to CS6 … So trust me, I understand and feel your pain..

    Take Care..

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  • Greg

    I am using CP6 and this decision by Adobe surprises me not in the least. I am also located in Australia where Adobe’s pricing policy means we pay, in some cases, twice the price for the same software that folks in the US do. There have been numerous requests for an explanation to this and all have been treated with disdain by Adobe, so good luck with this one.
    I haven’t had an opportunity to look at Articulate with any vigour as yet, however, most of my colleagues and other Adobe users will take the first opportunity to jump to another product should it provide the same features we are currently paying double for here in Oz.

  • http://ZebraZapps.com Bong131779

    Adobe has always done this. They learned this from Hitler. Tell them one thing and do another. Try ZebraZapps (Allen Interaction-OH yea the guys that wrote Authorware a real authoring system and the one Adobe end of lifed.) and you’ll never go back to Captivate.