DRM of any kind by design places restrictions on users, in the case of books it’s probably a necessary evil which will be with us for some time to come but there’s no doubt that it restricts ebook buyers from actions – such as lending and reselling – which would be legal if one had bought the paper version of the book.
With most ebook retailers having grouped around a single DRM – Adobe’s – it’s important that the system be easily understood and meaningful support only a quick request away.
Sadly my own two experiences with Adobe’s support haven’t lived up to those requirements.
Some months ago I had a torturous experience when, fearing I might be close to reaching the the six activated device limit on my Adobe ID, I asked for the limit to be increased.
That request was based on an FAQ on Adobe’s website which at the time read:
“What is the maximum number of computers and devices that I can authorize?
You can activate up to six computers and six devices . If you reach the limit, contact Customer Service to increase your allowable activations.”
During a four day exchange of responses I was told this wasn’t the case, questions went unanswered and I was asked for error messages and screenshots for errors I never claimed to have.
Eventually a supervisor called me and explained that despite what the FAQ said it was no longer possible to increase the activation count but that for a number of reasons the system auto reset the number of activations with the passage of time.
It wasn’t the clearest of explanations but I left fairly sure I wouldn’t find myself faith a virtual stack of books I was unable to authorise future devices to read them on.
After trying BeamItDown Software’s new iFlow reader app for iPad I decided it wasn’t for me and, unable to find an option within the app to de-authorise it from my ADE account, opened a ticket with Adobe asking if they could do so for me.
This is the response I got back:
“This is in regards to your concern posted on Adobe web support portal regarding an issue with the De-authorization of iFlow Reader.
At the outset, please accept our sincere gratitude for the time taken and efforts made by you in sharing your concerns with us. I value the importance of your concern and I am here to assist you.
I would like to inform you that iFlow Reader is not compatible with ADE.
Hence it is out of support boundaries as per Adobe support policies. To see the list of support devices follow the below mentioned link :
You can also try referring to our knowledge base and User to User forums by clicking on the following links:
U2U Forums: www.forums.adobe.com
To know more about Adobe products, please visit our product page:
Thanks for contacting Adobe Technical Web Support and we appreciate your time spent.
Have a nice day.”
All of which could be classified as helpful were the app not included on the very list of ADE compatible devices the agent provided the link for:
Apparently certain of their facts, the agent marked my ticket as ‘withdrawn’ which seemed to remove all options for updating it to point out the apparent error.
This level of response really isn’t good enough.
I can see that Adobe’s main customer base – those who buy their industry level design and web development software – are computer literate power users.
However, ADE users will inevitably be drawn from a much wider range of abilities and knowledge. Baffling, contradictory responses such as those I’ve received will only act as a barrier to ebook take up.
Adobe are now the main gatekeeper of the ebook world, as such they owe it to retailers, publishers, authors and readers to ensure that when help is needed it’s provided accurately and in a way which even the least technical of users can understand.
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