U.S. sues Adobe over shady subscription plans and hidden fees

Adobe, makers of Photoshop and its Creative Suite of design-related applications, is being sued by the U.S. government over hidden fees in its subscription plans and the contractual obligations it places on users.

In a complaint filed in the San Jose, California, federal court, the Federal Trade Commission said Adobe buries the fees, which sometimes reach hundreds of dollars, and other important terms in its "annual paid monthly" subscription plan in the fine print, or behind textboxes and hyperlinks. According to the complaint, Adobe calculates early termination fees as 50% of the remaining payments when consumers cancel in their first year. The FTC also said Adobe forces subscribers who want to cancel online to navigate unnecessarily through numerous pages, while those canceling by phone are often disconnected, are forced to repeat themselves to multiple representatives, and encounter "resistance and delay" from those representatives.

I thought a bit about why Adobe is so hated and I think it's the combination of the shady subscription model and how the software takes over computers. To install it is to end up with a constellation of mysterious things running in the background and behaving like malware if you try to mess with any part of it. There's a perception that you can't really have a secure or private computer that's also running Creative Suite—a paranoia that makes its AI shenanigans and legal fine print feel especially hostile and menacing. Adobe losing track of the basic legality of its business model seems very much in character.