How do they get away with it?

July 12, 2008

I just checked the upgrade price for Adobe’s Captivate—it’s advertised on their site as US$299 (AU$312 at 7 July 2008 exchange rate) and as soon as I clicked Upgrade and had to chose a region (Australia), the price jumped more than 60% to AU$505 (US$481) boxed or almost 50% to AU$455 (US$433) downloaded! And it’s even worse if you want to buy the full product—US$699 (AU$733) compared to AU$1245 (US1185) is a massive 70% increase!

Our currencies have been almost the same most of the year, so you can’t blame the exchange rate.

It’s EXACTLY the same product that I would get if I lived in the US, but because I live in Australia I have to pay an enormous premium on the upgrade price. That’s just not fair. And I can’t order it via the US site (or a US friend) as I have to put in a serial number for the upgrade and that identifies me as living in Australia and thus subject to this draconian pricing. I can’t even pass off the increase as the Australian GST as that’s only 10%, making the AU$312 (exchange rate on US$299) only AU$343, a far cry from AU$455 or AU$505. What a rip-off.

After my experiences with Adobe and its software over the past week (don’t get me started on how impossible it is to log a support call/bug report via their website…), I think I’ll take a long hard look at Camtasia. Techsmith have an excellent reputation and I’m a big fan of their screen capture software, SnagIt. According to their website, Camtasia is US$299 FULL price, so I clicked through a little more, had to select my country (Australia), and it’s still US$299… How refreshing (excuse my cynicism and sarcasm).

I like Captivate, I’ve used it at various client sites, I’m familiar with it, and I’ve praised it to others at conferences etc. I haven’t tried Camtasia for some years. So I guess it’s time to do my comparison. Price will come into it, but so will my feelings of being ripped off by Adobe’s pricing practices. Ultimately it will come down to what I need the software to do and how well both products (and other similar ones, including some freebies and cheapies) stack up.

BTW, there’s a recent article on this sort of price gouging here:

The excuse by Adobe, according to this article, is that Adobe sets the price to appease the local retailers:

… A spokesman for Adobe said local retailers, and not the software company, set the price of Adobe products in Australia and that its online store had been priced to support those retailers.

“When setting our store price we analyse the market and set our pricing accordingly. In this way we try to actively support our local Australian channel partners who have invested a lot in their own businesses,” said Pacific marketing manager Mark Cokes.

“Generally we lean towards slightly higher pricing on our local Adobe store than what you may see on our US site (which, unlike our local prices does not include GST, or international shipping and duty fees).”

Mr Cokes would not explain how shipping fees affected the price of downloads, but ruled out the possibility of Adobe ceasing physical packaging of its products in favour of digital distribution…

Sorry, I just don’t buy that argument. I want to buy from the manufacturer at the manufacturer’s prices and download the software from the manufacturer’s online store. I expect to pay the local taxes of 10%, but that’s all. It’s just a rip off as to all intents and purposes I’m buying direct from Adobe not a local retailer when I shop at the Adobe store. Everything’s branded with “Adobe.com” so I can’t see how I’m dealing with local retailers like City Software (who, BTW, were selling Adobe Captivate 3 upgrade on July 7 for AU$385 a saving of ‘$151 off the RRP’).

Update 5 May 2010: Adobe announced the release of Captivate 5 today. I’ve been in conversations with various Adobe employees and MVPs at conferences the past couple of years on this issue, but they’ve not been able to get an answer for this pricing discrepancy either. It seems this price gouging also applies to at least the UK and Denmark, and no doubt many other countries.

Today I checked out the prices for Captivate 5 in Adobe’s US store and  Australian stores — only to find that nothing has changed. The Australian price for the upgrade is AU$502 (converted via xe.com that’s US$456), while the  US upgrade price is $299 (AU$328); the full price in Australia is AU$1337 (US$1217), whereas the full price in the US is $799 (AU$877).

But since I wrote this post back in 2008, Twitter has taken off. After the announcement about Captivate 5’s release, I Tweeted about how Adobe’s pricing model sucks and gave examples. @kmdk confirmed that pricing in Denmark was as inequitable, and @cpguru advised me to just buy from the Adobe US online store. Problem: My existing Adobe ID says that I’m in Australia and have to buy through the Australian store or create a new account. So I start to create a new account, only to be thwarted by required address fields that only offer the US, Canada and Mexico as the country options! So much for buying from the Adobe’s US online store. I can’t even sign up, let alone purchase the product I want.

Had Adobe’s purchasing policies not been so draconian, I would’ve purchased the upgrade to v2 (from v1) and the upgrade to v4 (from v3), both at US$299 — that means that Adobe has ‘lost’ US$600 worth of business from me because of this stupid pricing model.

Will I buy Captivate 5? Unlikely. I’ll probably wait until v6 or v7, which means Adobe has ‘lost’ at least another US$299 from me, taking its total ‘loss’ from me alone to a tad under $1000. Multiply that by potentially thousands or hundreds of thousands of international customers and Adobe is shooting itself in the foot with this ridiculous ‘arrangement’ for its non-North American customers.


  1. […] typography photo More inexplicable pricing May 16, 2010 I’ve spoken about Adobe’s inexplicable pricing model and Australian book prices before, but today it’s the turn of a more generalist consumer […]

  2. […] address, and US-originating Visa card, and/or a US PayPal account. I’ve written before about Adobe’s atrocious price gouging policies for people outside the US so I wasn’t prepared to hand over a highly inflated upgrade price to a local company for the […]

  3. […] Fun with road safety signs Adobe pricing sucks January 20, 2012 Back in 2008 I had a little rant about Adobe’s pricing model for countries outside the US, specifically Australia. Since then I’ve spoken to several […]

  4. […] markets around the world (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/adobe-pricing-sucks/ and https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/07/12/how-do-they-get-away-with-it/, and some recent Twitter activity on this issue, I was contacted by someone from Adobe for my email […]

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