I recently wrote about the creeping costs associated with subscription services. So, in an effort to better manage my monthly spending I've been looking at where I'm spending my dollars. One of the services I've been subscribed to is Adobe Creative Cloud. For almost $30 per month I had access to one app - InDesign - that I was using with one client. But I no longer need the app. And I discovered Adobe's exit fees were nothing short of exhorbitant.
Subscription apps come with the promise that you can use them and then dump them as needed. "Elasticity" is one of the words often used to sell the benefit of subscribing. On that basis, and because I didn't fancy splashing out hundreds of bucks for software, I subscribed to Creative Cloud solely to get access to InDesign.
For individuals, you can access the Photography pack which delivers Lightroom and Photoshop plus a bunch of storage for a little over $14. But for access to any one of the other Creative Cloud apps, that price doubles.
I've been paying that money each month but the client I was working with has scaled back the work I do with them so I no longer need the software. So, I logged into my Creative Cloud account and discovered that cancelling my monthly subscription was going to cost me over $100.
As I looked a little more deeply into this, I found that even though I was paying a monthly fee, I was basically in an annual agreement. And the exit fee was half of what i would have paid had I waited till the end of my billing year.
I know what some of you are saying; I should have read the terms and conditions more closely. And perhaps you're right. But once that first year expired I figured I was on a month-to-month arrangement. And besides, Adobe get to change the terms and conditions when it suits them.
This all seemed a little dodgy to me so I posted a small whinge on Twitter.
How crappy is this? I have an @creativecloud sub that I want to cancel as I no longer us the product. The cancellation fee is 4x the monthly
— Anthony Caruana (@Anthony_Caruana) December 11, 2017
I really wasn't expecting anything but an Adobe support person contacted me. They canceled the account for me and waived the charges "as an exception" (that exchange was conducted over direct messages).
All they wanted was to know why I wanted to cancel.
So, here's the thing. The promise of subscription software is that we can come and go as we please. But - and this was my error - the devil is in the detail and even though you may think you are in a month-to-month agreement, you may well be in an annual one.
Two of the other services I use, Office 365 and Saasu, charge me once a year for annual subscriptions. Others, such as Netflix and Spotify, charge me monthly and I can exit from or change my arrangement each month.
Adobe's model is different. The contract is for a year but charged each month - presumably because billing people $330 each year for access to one application is less likely to attract customers than $28 each month.
Those sorts of annual fees would have me looking at alternatives. For example, rather than pay $14 per month ($168 per year) for Photoshop, I paid a one-off cost of $90 for Pixelmator.
Although subscription services are common, there are not all subject to the same terms and conditions. And what might look like a monthly agreement may actually be something different. The lesson here is to pay close attention of what you are paying for.
When you sign up for a subscription service, check whether you are entering into a monthly or annual agreement.
While it all ended satisfactorily for me (which makes me wonder if anyone ever pays the exit fees) I'm going to be far more careful when it comes to reading the terms and conditions with subscription services.