Rant: Adobe

We had a copy of Photoshop CS2 for Windows, and wanted to upgrade to Photoshop CS5 for Mac. Not an incredibly unusual event, I would imagine.

Adobe calls this a “cross-platform upgrade”. There’s a variation on this theme called a platform-switch  – switching platform on the same version with no upgrade; a process that seems to involve faxing promises that you won’t use the previous platform anymore. But no, it’s the cross-platform upgrade I’m after.

The Adobe website didn’t go into details about how exactly how the cross-platform this worked, and seeing as this was my wife’s photoshop I was upgrading, I wanted to know some more of the details. I didn’t have access to my wife’s Adobe site account at the time, and was concerned there might be hidden gotchas, like you have to order the upgrade from within the account. Just to be sure, I hit up customer support online chat. They didn’t seem overly interested, because I hadn’t bought the upgrade yet.

Me: So I should be able to install the mac upgrade using the old PC serial code as proof of “upgrade”?
Adobe Agent 1: I’ll be right with you.
Adobe Agent 1: We do have Cross Platform Upgrade option.
Adobe Agent 1: I suggest you to contact our Sales Team or you can go ahead and place the order online.
Adobe Agent 1: Please do contact us when you are about to install the software so that we can unlock it.

So the gist of the interaction was “buy the mac photoshop CS5 upgrade, then contact support for help unlocking it”. Alrighty. I was initially going to place the order through the Adobe store, but then found Newegg were selling it for slightly cheaper, so I placed the order with them.

… A few days later …

Having received the Mac upgrade, I began the installation process. After entering the serial code for the mac upgrade, it then asked for the serial code for the version I’m upgrading from. Curiosity then said “well, isn’t that just the serial code from the old PC version?” You’d think that’d suffice, but no. The installer claimed it wasn’t a valid product to upgrade from. Time to get back to Adobe support. I explain the upgrade I’m attempting and give them the serial codes from both versions. The response is…

Adobe Agent 2: Thank you for your patience.
Adobe Agent 2: In this case you need to return the Upgrade version and purchase the Cross platform upgrade.

The what, now? I wondered if I have to go down the platform switch route, from a PC version of photoshop CS5:

Me: wait, so I have to buy the pc version, then request a platform change?
Adobe Agent 2: No, you need to purchase a Cross platform upgrade to MAC.

I’d been told to buy the “upgrade”, not a specific cross platform upgrade. The Adobe store only lists the full version, upgrade and subscription as purchase options. I pointed this out in case there was a misunderstanding:

Adobe Agent 2: You need to purchase the cross platform upgrade, the normal upgrade won’t support to install on the MAC system.
Adobe Agent 2: Do you have any more questions for me?
Me: where can I buy the cross platform upgrade?
Adobe Agent 2: You can purchase it from Adobe only, in order to purchase the cross platform upgrade you need to contact our Sales team.

So, it seems I need to buy a super-secret version of the upgrade that isn’t listed in the web store – I need to talk to sales in hushed tones in order to buy it.

Adobe Agent 2: However, the only option is to return the upgrade and purchase the Cross platform Upgrade to MAC.

Feh. Ok, I’ve wasted my time buying it from newegg, it would seem. I might as well talk to Adobe sales and get the cross platform upgrade ordered, then I can return the Mac upgrade to newegg.

Me: Ok, I’m looking at upgrading from photoshop CS2 on PC to photoshop CS5 on Mac.
Me: I purchased a mac upgrade version of CS5, but I’m told I need a cross-platform upgrade version
Adobe Sales: That’s wonderful to know.
Adobe Sales: Yes, you can use cross platform swap with the latest version.
Adobe Sales: Yes, exactly.
Adobe Sales: Just to confirm, are you interested in creating 3D animations for the images that you create?


Me: no, I’m wanting photoshop CS5 for Mac, but I’m upgrading from an older PC version. I have the photoshop CS5 upgrade for Mac, but I have since been told that I need a cross-platform version in order to upgrade
Me: Do I need to return the Mac upgrade I bought and purchase a cross-platform upgrade?

… Silence …

Me: hello?
Adobe Sales: You just need to purchase the upgrade for Mac, while installing the upgrade you just need to contact our Customer service, they will be glad to help you with the upgrade.
Adobe Sales: Yes.


Me: that’s just what I did
Me: they told me the mac upgrade was no good
Me: I needed a “cross-platform” upgrade
Adobe Sales: If you purchase the upgrade for Mac you will get a new serial number Photoshop CS2 for Mac, so that you can use to validate the upgrade of Photoshop CS5.=
Me: so I need to ask support for a CS2 for mac serial number in order to install the upgrade?
Adobe Sales: Yes, absolutely.

Hmm. Someone’s not telling the truth, but I don’t know who.

Adobe Sales: It looks like this is what you need, lets go ahead and place the order online, okay.
Me: I have the mac upgrade already, it’s sitting in the drive
Adobe Sales: You just need to contact our Customer service on 1-800-833-6687 for more information on this.
Adobe Sales: As we are from Online Sales Department, we don’t have enough resource to do the cross platform swap.

It was a weekend and the phoneline wasn’t open, and I couldn’t get the online support chat to appear again, so I left it for the day.

… a couple of days later …

Called the customer service line at about 8:15pm central, 45 minutes before the end of support hours. An automated system tells me I’m on hold and hold time should be 20-30 mins. Bleah. Ok, I can do this.

30 mins go by.

An hour goes by.

After an hour and a half of listening to the same hold music – now 45 minutes past when support hours end – I reach the conclusion that they all must have gone home for the night and left me on hold. The option to chat with support online has reappeared, so I figured it can’t hurt to try again. I explain that I want to do a cross platform upgrade:

Adobe Agent 3: I have checked and see that you can go ahead and purchase the upgrade version of the software with the platform you want.

Aha! Just the upgrade version – no secret cross-platform version. I tell the agent I already have the upgrade, and supply the serial codes.

Adobe Agent 3: I have checked and see that the serial numbers are valid.

I’m starting to feel a glimmer of hope!

Adobe Agent 3: As I understand that you are not able to login to your Adobe account. Am I correct?

Oh no! Hope glimmer fading! The agent appears to be slipping off-topic! The sales rep did this too; in retrospect, I guess they must have a dozen chat sessions going simultaneously, and occasionally paste a response into the wrong window.

Me: Sorry? I’m trying to do a cross-platform upgrade, but the mac installer doesn’t seem to want to accept the old pc serial number
Adobe Agent 3: Are you at the upgrade check window?

Frantic re-opening of the installer

Adobe Agent 3: Please left or right double click any where on the upgrade check window holding shift + cmd or shift + apple keys. You will get 6 digits unlock code; please provide me the same without closing the window.
Adobe Agent 3: Thank you for the challenge code.
Adobe Agent 3: I’ll generate the response code, so once you enter the response code, the software will be unlocked.
Me: Great!
Adobe Agent 3: here is the response code.
Adobe Agent 3: YYYYYY
Adobe Agent 3: Pleas go ahead and activate the software.
Me: Ok, looks like it’s going ahead with the installation… thank you!

Post mortem

It seems that if you’re doing a cross platform upgrade, all you need to do is buy the normal upgrade version for the platform you want to use, then when it comes to entering the serial code from the version you’re upgrading from, just ask support for the challenge/response code to unlock it. Agent #2 that I chatted with apparently had no knowledge regarding this process, and heaped on a ton of confusion. I guess if you find yourself in a similar situation, keep trying for an agent who can help you.

I understand the need to protect the software from illegal copying, but they’ve got to keep the process as simple as possible for those of us who are paying.

One Response to “Rant: Adobe”

  1. Shiri Says:

    Wow, sorry to hear you had a hard time with adobe….they, like all large corporations, tend to forget that they need to tattoo info on their csr’s brains in order for things to be done properly lol. I worked for microsoft for a few years, and believe me, I have dealt with so many confused and angry customers because of this very same issue. Just glad to hear you got the mac version working!

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