This email sounds like an instruction manual on how to piss-off customers: make the model confusing, and allow some give and take on particulars. Why lose a customer forever?
The email also points out a lopsided deal too often seen: the right of a licensor to change terms at any time (any trivial “upgrade” can include a change in terms).
I just had a fun time with Getty Images over their 'subscription' service last week. I realized I wasn't using it fully, so I decided not to continue with the monthly service (that they were raising prices from $83.95/month to nearly $150/month)… I had a couple projects still waiting to be approved and go live, and the rep said that if I let my 'service' lapse, the images that I had downloaded as part of that service that were not live by the time my subscription ran out, would not be allowed to be used under the agreement.
I explained my circumstances leading to this decision, and was there any other option, since the $150/month option was their cheapest option for this service. She said that if I bought an image pack, I would not only have up to a year to download and use the images in this image pack, but if I did this before my subscription ran out, it would continue my license agreement for the images not yet live that I had already downloaded. I agreed to this, and then had my subscription run out earlier than the system was telling me it would, but the new image pack hadn't gone through yet… so there was a gap in my accessing the images I still needed. So… I called them to discuss. The rep said I'd have to talk with her manager about this gap. Her manager then proceeded to tell me that I was SOL anyway, and that buying the image pack would not continue my license agreement and that I was 'miss informed.' And that even if I had downloaded my last couple image credits before the subscription had run out, if they hadn't gone live before the subscription ended, I'd have to buy them again.
So I asked him to put the rep on the line to explain all that I had been sold on. She explained everything, and he corrected her and said I was still SOL. Neither of them would honor what they had sold me on, and I was totally stuck having to rebuy all of the images not in use I had already downloaded and had essentially paid for under this agreement. I told them this was the exact reason I was no longer wanting to continue with said service, or use anything like it (i.e. Adobe Creative Cloud, MS Cloud, etc.)
I know you may have your own feelings on this as a photographer, but beyond the content/license matters, the fact that you can be told one thing from a company rep/sales person, and then have them change this agreement at any time and just point to the 'read the terms and conditions' (which if it's like Apple's, is 100s of pages long, and they can change at any time even for .01 updates). Buying software, you still have to accept a terms and conditions agreement, but you still have control of it at the time that you do so…. with a service, they can change these T&Cs at anytime, and leave you hanging with no other option, other than having to pony up even more money. What's really disheartening, is one a company like this doesn't stand behind it's people. This is the rep I've worked with for over 2 years. If I had accidentally gotten my own T&Cs wrong and had mis told one of my customers something, I would have to honor this and would gladly do so to keep my customer and to be a good business partner.
Obviously, Getty couldn’t care less about this relationship. And seeing as how 'wonderful' Adobe's customer support has been 'after' the sale of their products the last 6-8 yrs (NOT), this doesn't bode well for future interactions as well. Purchasing the last 3 CS products directly from Adobe, has been among my WORST customer experiences I've ever had. The first time, at least I had a friend that still worked there that got me through to staff there that actually still cared and wanted to make things right. Unfortunately, they laid him off, along with other senior veteran staff. Again, doesn't bode well for their corporate practices or policies. To top that off, where are we really going to turn to? They've bought up and killed off their competition. I used to be a Freehand user, until they bought it and killed that off. I also used to be a PageMaker user. Same thing. Flash? GoLive? also dead. Granted, InDesign and Illustrator are now much better programs, but….
Maybe I just need a new career or maybe I should just return to the days of letterpress and traditional photography ;)