What do you do when a freshly purchased copy of Photoshop refuses to install because it thinks it is already installed? Not even Adobe is quite sure.
Just because you've paid a significant amount of money for a piece of software, you don't always get the customer service you expect, as one Photoshop user recently discovered.
Geoff Wallace runs Macfixer
, an independent Macintosh troubleshooting and training service. One of his clients - a professional photographer - called him in after experiencing problems installing a newly purchased Photoshop CS3 Upgrade.
It turned out that the CS3 beta had previously been used on that computer and the installer thought it was still present and refused to work, so Wallace started by trying the fixes suggested on Adobe's knowledge base. None of them worked and he was reluctant to try a wholesale nuking of Adobe-related files as other apps from the company were present, so he rang the tech support line - and that's where our tale really starts.
That call was made at around 12.30pm on September 6, and the agent said some research was needed and he would ring back. The return call hadn't materialised by 5pm, so Wallace called again. The agent had "no idea" according to Wallace, and requested a copy of the installation log, which was emailed within a few minutes.
No reply was received within 24 hours, so Wallace sent a reminder. On September 10, Adobe rang him to say they hadn't received the log files and asked for them to be resent, and Wallace did so. The same day, the client was invited to take part in an Adobe technical support customer satisfaction survey - not a very tactful move!
When Wallace rang again on September 11, the agent claimed the resent message wasn't received either. The log was sent again at 12.14pm, and an acknowledgement received at 12.48pm.
There was no further communication from Adobe by lunchtime on September 13, so Wallace sent another reminder. That fell into a black hole - presumably the same one that absorbed his previous emails - so he rang Adobe again at around 12.30pm on September 14, and was promised that someone would ring him back that afternoon.
4.40pm arrived, and Adobe hadn't called back, so Wallace placed yet another call, only to be told that the log file had been received (which had already been established) and that the issue was being escalated.
By now, over a week had elapsed since the initial call, and it's worth remembering that we're talking about a professional user of a professional program. And this is not an isolated case: other users are reporting the same problem on forums such as MacFixIt.com, Wallace says.
After another six days and six phone calls, Wallace finally got the agent looking after the problem on the phone, only to be asked for more information about the hardware and software configuration, which he provided.
By September 24, the customer was fed up with waiting and drastic steps were necessary. Wallace fitted a new hard drive to the Mac Pro, and installed the operating system and applications from scratch. That sounds extreme, but it was quicker then backing up all the user files and reformatting the original drive, and the client could use the extra storage space anyway.
On September 28, Adobe tech support suggested a process that had been tried and found lacking at the outset of this saga. When that was pointed out, the agent emailed a list of files and folders to be deleted manually. Wallace plans to try it next time - more out of curiosity than anything - next time he visits the client's premises.
It's possible that the client didn't correctly uninstall the beta, but you do have to question why the released installer wasn't capable of overwriting or deleting any traces remaining from the beta. "I've never come across a program that's so difficult to uninstall," says Wallace.
Even if we give Adobe the benefit of the doubt over the missing emails, Wallace has a point when he says "they've been very inefficient" in providing technical support.
Mark Phibbs, marketing director at Adobe Asia Pacific, said "From this feedback we acknowledge that in this instance our customer care has not met our usual high standards. We are sorry that we have inconvenienced Geoff and are working with him to resolve his issues as quickly as possible.
"Adobe prides itself on listening to its customers and works to deliver great products and a high quality of service. As a result, we are reviewing our customer processes and will take the appropriate action to ensure that this experience is not repeated.
"We appreciate continual feedback and encourage our customers and watchers to engage with us further to ensure that our customer experience is a positive one."