My Free 12-Month Adobe Creative Cloud Account That Still Cost Me Money Every Month

How would you like to get a free 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud account? I was happy at the thought, but now I'm just frustrated that it was an empty offer because I was already a paying customer.

Adobe Offers Free 12-Month Adobe Creative Cloud Account to Full Conference Attendees of Photoshop World

Last September, this was big news. There was a lot of confusion and doubt about switching from the Creative Suite to the subscription service of Creative Cloud. I actually made the change before this offer, which turns out to have been a mistake.

Adobe did something that seemed bold, generous and smart. Offering a free 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud Account to the folks who visit Photoshop World seemed like a great strategy. These are the folks who are passionate and industrious users of Adobe products. They are also the folks who influence others and can promote Creative Cloud to others. In short, these are the folks that Adobe wants to make happy and they did. All of the full conference attendees received an e-mail just like this one sent to me.

Free 12-Month Adobe Creative Cloud Account

What could go wrong?

One Adobe Hand Doesn't Know What The Other Is Doing

How many times have we seen something like this happen? A marketing or sales guy comes up with a great idea, and then the operations folks screw up the implementation because they probably were never even consulted about the idea. My guess is that's what happened here.

As I mentioned, I was already an Adobe Creative Cloud subscriber. This e-mail came to the address I used for my Photoshop World registration and my Adobe ID. In my mind, it seemed logical that my free year would begin at the conclusion of my existing contract. That's this month.

I did as the e-mail instructed and tried to register for my free year. It didn't seem to work, though, because I had an existing account. I called Adobe support and a nice lady told me they weren't prepared to handle extensions for existing customers. Her advice was to call back closer to the end of my current subscription and then Adobe would be prepared to add the free 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud account to my Adobe ID.  Sounded legitimate, so I waited.

A couple of months ago, I started calling contacting Adobe. There were no nice ladies on the other side and there was still a great deal of confusion at Adobe as I explained my situation.

On Wednesday night, I was told by Adobe that I made a mistake. My free 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud account was activated on September 6th and has been running in parallel with my paid account. Both accounts were using my same e-mail address, so I had no indication that my free account was active while I was paying for my current account. By the way, that's how the Adobe rep explained it to me. I had absolutely no way of knowing these were running in parallel.

OK, I figured this ought to be something that Adobe could clear up. After all, I've been paying for Adobe Creative Cloud and didn't actually get to use any of the complimentary offer.

He disagreed.

According to Adobe, this is all my fault. I shouldn't have registered until my current subscription expired. Never mind Adobe made absolutely no mention of this at the time they made the offer. Apparently, I was just supposed to know this would become an invisible account that I couldn't access while paying for my existing subscription. That's despite the e-mail telling me it was time to kick off my complimentary access to Adobe Creative Cloud. It's time, unless you're already a paying customer.

As the man told me, this is my mistake and my fault.

When I asked to escalate, he refused and said this issue doesn't qualify for escalation to a manager. I got my free account whether I could use it or not.  He wanted me to get that through my head.

Adobe Made An Impact On Me

If Adobe wanted people to blog about Creative Cloud, they succeeded! As a result of this inept marketing strategy, I'd like to remind folks that there are some great alternatives to Adobe products. I'm particularly fond of Apple Aperture and Pixelmator. For a combined price under $100, you get an astounding combination to manage and process your photos.

Since they come from the App Store, you get to use them on five computers instead of the two-computer limit imposed by Adobe. They will never stop working when the next Adobe Creative Cloud outage hits. They won't cost you money every month.

I own them both. I use them both. I heartily recommend them both, also.

The biggest impact Adobe made upon me has nothing to do with the quality of its products. Instead, it's about the ineptness of its operations. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with Photoshop World or the folks at Kelby. They put on the conference, but this offer came from Adobe and it's Adobe that had the responsibility of making it a positive experience, or a negative one.

The good news is that I haven't lost anything that cost me money. The bad news is that I'm frustrated by the experience. It's easily rectified by anyone at Adobe who cares, but I just can't find someone with that job description.

If this post ever reaches someone at Adobe who can explain the logic of receiving a free account that I can't use because I'm paying for another one, please give it a shot. For now, I think life would have been better if you never even bothered to tempt me with a complimentary Adobe Creative Cloud subscription that I can never use. It's almost sadistic.


24 hours after the most recent Adobe support person told me this was my fault, the problem no longer exists. A friend of mine, one of the many good people I've met at Photoshop World, read this post and shared it with a contact she knows at Adobe. As you can see below in the comments, he reached out to let me know that he was working to resolve the problem.

I'm pleased to say he was successful and my free 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud account is now active. I'm quite grateful to him and to my friend for taking it upon herself to help me. I wrote this post after I exhausted all of the contact options I had with Adobe support – phone, email, chat – and none of them were successful or willing to escalate the issue internally. Without these folks, the issue would have faded away.

I've also learned that there are others who shared my same fate. My friend tells me that Adobe will look further into their support operation to try and address the issues that stymied me. With any luck, they'll be able to help any other person who was unable to make headway through the support process.

6 thoughts on “My Free 12-Month Adobe Creative Cloud Account That Still Cost Me Money Every Month”

  1. Hi William!

    There is no such thing as a free lunch! Adobe – as any other company – tries to get your money. They don’t really care about you as a customer but just about your money. Worst comes to worst as soon as you have to deal with their call center. The agents there are helpless, have no idea and are far from able to be helpful or customer orientated. Keep yourself happy and never try to peek behind the facade. You will be disappointed or even horrified. I fully agree with you, aperture and pixelmator are very able replacements for a creative cloud abo screwing you up.


    1. I don’t have a problem paying Adobe for its products. That’s why I’ve purchased different versions of Photoshop and Lightroom in the past and subscribed to Adobe Creative Cloud. They offer and I have the choice to purchase or not. That part is fine with me.

      Where I object is to being offered something as a promotion, incentive or complimentary access and then finding out it isn’t what they offered. While I believe that the management who made this offer is sincere, they didn’t follow through with operations to make it a reality.

      The easiest word in the English language seems to be “no” and that’s what I’m getting from Adobe‘s support staff. Any reasonable person can understand that a year of complimentary service is not complimentary if you’re paying for the product. They won’t lift a finger to help, and that’s what really bugs me here.

  2. Hello William,

    I am sorry to hear about this terrible experience. I’ve been able to verify your account and will have this corrected today. I’ll follow up with you through email.


    1. Brett,

      Thank you very much for taking time to address my issue and resolving it to my complete satisfaction. It’s nice to know that there are folks at Adobe who care about such matters and I am grateful.

  3. I came back and re-read this post since I had my own Adobe issues today (switched from the free CC to a photography subscription, and had to contact support to get my account to actually switch over). The thing is like all companies, there *are* people who care, Brett for example. However those people are not on the front lines. The front line people (and talking in general, not necessarily about Adobe) are told it’s about quantity, not quality, so they do anything they can to get the customer off the current call so they can move on to the next one, so they have “good” numbers. Telling the customer “I can’t do that” or “it’s your fault” is the best way to do that, forgetting that they’ll build better brand loyalty if they just take care of the issue.

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