I’ve found that many software companies time their new releases for late at night in the United States. That’s lunchtime here in Taiwan. So when I learned over lunch, via Twitter, that Adobe Lightroom 3 had been released, I immediately went to the Adobe site to buy my copy.
I should have had the jump on my sleeping American friends, right? It didn’t work out that way.
Address Not Accepted
I downloaded the trial version. As soon as I confirmed that it had installed properly and was able to read my Lightroom 2 catalogs, I clicked “Buy.”
Nothing happened. Then I got a message from Adobe saying it could not accept my online payment because my registered location was Taiwan.
Unfortunately, as an ex-pat photographer based here for seven years and married to a Taiwanese citizen, I no longer kept any bank accounts or addresses registered elsewhere.
What to do?
Finding a boxed copy in a store here would be close to impossible. It would need to be specially ordered and take at least 6 weeks to arrive. Many local distributors also won’t accept upgrade pricing — only the full retail price.
When Lightroom 2 was released, I had a friend on a business trip to the United States buy it for me there, but no such luck this time. I contemplated making a quick trip to Hong Kong to buy a boxed copy — but this would add $150 in plane fare to the cost of my purchase.
BitTorrent and Other Solutions
I turned to Twitter and Facebook, asking if anyone had solutions for me. They did — and how.
A surprisingly large number of photographers suggested I simply wait for Lightroom 3 to be available on BitTorrent and download an “alternative” version. In other words, skip the runaround and get a pirated copy.
I didn’t want to go there. Fortunately, one Twitter follower had another idea; he suggested I try Bundle Box, a site that allows people outside the United States to have a virtual U.S. address.
Returning to the Adobe store, I created an Adobe ID using my new Bundle Box address. I then went back to the Lightroom 3 product page, clicked on “Buy,” filled in the credit card details and I was done!
One Final Hurdle
Adobe accepted my payment and informed me that a serial number would be sent in a separate e-mail and would appear in the “Your Orders” section. But when I got there, instead of a serial number, I got this message: “Contact Customer Service.”
Of course, it was after hours in the United States, so I had to wait till 8 p.m. my time to call. Then I had to wait on hold for someone to talk to me.
Sitting on hold on an international call is not something I normally like to do, but it’s still cheaper than a flight to Hong Kong would have been. After someone answered, I got transferred around a couple of times — but when I finally reached the right person, everything got sorted out. I got my serial number and my purchase was complete.
After going through this experience, though, I wonder how many people would have stopped looking for legal solutions and would have simply downloaded a copy over BitTorrent instead? Adobe and other software makers, take note.