Well played, Mr. Counterfeiter!

Surprise of the day: Turns out that I don’t actually own Photoshop CS5 Extended, after all. What I bought was a very slickly packaged counterfeit with an invalid serial number. I’m talking the whole nine yards–box, inserts, shrink-wrap, stickers, everything. Normally, those people just flog the bootlegs at an obviously too-good-to-be-true price without going to all that bother, but this was packaged professionally and priced high enough to fool me. I’m normally good at spotting fishy deals from a mile off, but this one just reeled me in hook, line, and sinker. 
First, it was sold on Amazon, which is a place that I trust and have had a comfortable relationship with for years. Second, it was advertised as the full boxed deal, with none of the alarm-bells language that peg it as a fishy deal. Third, it was priced at $699.00, which is $300 less than full retail, but much higher than those fishy deals normally go for. Fourth, it wasn’t just sold by a marketplace reseller, this was one of those Fulfilled By Amazon products where Amazon itself handles warehousing and shipping. You wouldn’t think a bootlegger would go that far. Fifth, the seller had a good reputation and lots of positive feedback. Finally, my new notebook didn’t arrive until almost a week after the software did, so the unopened box was sitting on my desk the whole time and completely passed muster with me visually.
Well played, Mr. Counterfeiter. You got me good, you sly dog.
So, anyway, I found this out when installing it on my new notebook. There’s a step in the installer where you enter the serial number, and that’s when I found out the serial was no good. I got in touch with Adobe because I figured it had to be a glitch in their activation system and that this was all just one big misunderstanding that they could fix with the press of a button, and after that, we could all look up at the ceiling and laugh as the credits start rolling. 
Uh, yeah, no. That would be way too easy.
Adobe’s got this sort of semi-understandable “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. We apologize for the inconvenience. Sucks to be you. Next time, buy from us. For now, we suggest you contact the seller for a valid serial number.” sort of attitude towards the whole thing, but they did open a support case and requested that I send in some documentation. 
I did that, not because I expected them to make it right, but because I’m hoping that it’ll add one more piece of straw to the camel’s back–eventually, Adobe is gonna snap and go all Raving Rabbid on somebody’s ass for pirating their stuff. Heck, three people in New York got 5 years in the slammer for flogging bootleg Adobe software a while back, so apparently Costco quantities of bitching does have an effect. Alone, we are ineffectual whispers in the desolate wasteland, but united, we are a mighty hive whose earth-shaking bellows of righteous rage make Adobe’s eardrums meet in the middle of its collective head! Rah-rah-rah, up with the proletariat, fishcakes, blah blah, yadda yadda, et cetera.
I called the Amazon seller (RetroSoftware) twice today, and got the runaround both times, so I decided to just use their website customer support contact form to inform them that the software they sold me was bogus. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt–they liquidate old boxed software, and it’s very probable that they’re a 100% legit operation that just happened to get some bad inventory. The comparatively high price of $699 speaks to it being an innocent mistake on their part–most bootleggers tend to go for volume with scams, so they don’t charge anywhere near MSRP. Near as I can figure, RetroSoftware probably acquired the bootleg stuff through normal liquidation channels and simply assumed it was real. (The packaging fooled me too, so I can’t say they should’ve known better!)
I talked to Amazon customer support a little while ago, and they were really helpful and understanding. They’ve given me a return merchandise authorization form and a shipping label, and they’ll issue me a refund once they receive and process the return. We’ll see how that goes. It’s all boxed up and waiting for a trip to the UPS store tomorrow.

I’ll post an update as things develop.

4 thoughts on “Well played, Mr. Counterfeiter!

  1. emergencyoverride

    Wow dude. Thats crazy. People are going all out now to screw people. Hope everything works out with Amazon. It should, I have had some service issues in the past and they dealt with it right away. What sucks is your super deal ended up being a scam and now you have to shop around for the software again. Here's to hoping you find a real deal in the near future. Why do people have to be crooks? The instances of people getting prosecuted for software theft are increasing by leaps and bounds. People don't realize how much in their life they jeopardize by stealing or cheating someone. The fines and jail time are increasing as we go along and the funny thing is, it is getting easier to track and catch these clowns and they don't seem to care. From stealing music or movies to some of the torrent sites, stealing is stealing. Some people don't see anything wrong with it, but then again I guess they weren't taught any values as a kid.

  2. Christopher Roe

    Yeah. At least my hilariously overpowered new notebook is still useful without Photoshop CS5 Extended–the fact that it can actually handle large paper models is worth the purchase alone, but…damn. If it weren't for the CS5 deal and the fact that my old notebook isn't up to running CS5 at full throttle, I could have put off that purchase for a couple more months.

    It'd have been really nice to have a legit install of Photoshop CS5 Extended, if only because it makes instructions a piece of cake and reduces the number of apps I need to create instructions from 3 to 1. Well, one and a half applications if you count Bridge for the multi-page PDF export.

  3. Vermin_King

    There are lots of thieves out there. I have picked up some nice models at a few, only to find out later as I look around the site more, that a lot of their models are pirated. Delete the link. I don't need anything from thieves.

    There are a lot of pirated WWG sets out there. Maybe I should hunt them up again and forward the list to Mel…

  4. John C. Morrison

    I've had this problem on more than one occasion. I bought a copy of "The Emperor and the Assassin" with Gong Li and the fine print on the back of the DVD case said "Raiders of the Lost Arc"!!

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