FTC Lawsuit Alleges Adobe’s Cancellation Fees Are Illegal

Ashley Belanger, reporting for Ars Technica:

The government’s heavily redacted complaint laid out Adobe’s alleged scheme, which starts with “manipulative enrollment practices.”

To lock subscribers into recurring monthly payments, Adobe would typically pre-select by default its most popular “annual paid monthly” plan, the FTC alleged. That subscription option locked users into an annual plan despite paying month to month. If they canceled after a two-week period, they’d owe Adobe an early termination fee (ETF) that costs 50 percent of their remaining annual subscription. The “material terms” of this fee are hidden during enrollment, the FTC claimed, only appearing in “disclosures that are designed to go unnoticed and that most consumers never see.” [...]

Because Adobe allegedly only alerted users to the ETF in fine print — by hovering over a small icon or clicking a hyperlink in small text — while the company’s cancellation flows made it hard to end recurring payments, the FTC is suing and accusing Adobe of deceptive practices under the FTC Act.

Adobe is too good a company to push dark-pattern subscription schemes like this. They should concede, apologize, and eliminate every subscription that isn’t a simple straightforward annual or monthly plan.

Wednesday, 19 June 2024