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A community of crafters forced Cricut to revert their new subscription policy.

Cricut announced a new subscription model―customers shut it down

Ordinarily, Andrea Ross would spend her evening creating digital patterns for her crafting website My Very Crafty Life―instead she found herself launching a heated petition against Cricut, the Utah-based manufacturer who makes the cutting machines she uses for work.

The company came under fire in March of 2021 after announcing that those who had purchased and owned a Cricut machine would now have to pay $9.99/month to upload more than 20 custom designs each month―a service that used to be unlimited and free for users.

Cricut customers responded with outrage. “We didn’t pay to buy a machine with limits,” posted Jessica Leyva to the official Cricut Facebook page. “We didn’t pay to basically RENT limited use. This was not something implemented before and therefore should not apply.”  

A community of crafters forced Cricut to revert their new subscription policy.
The first of two change.org petitions against Cricut

A business decision―and its effect on customers 

It was a strategic move. Cricut, like Microsoft and Adobe before them, decided to adopt the revenue model for their proprietary Design Space software from a one-time purchase to a recurring subscription. 

The response was swift. Within hours of the announcement, crafters from Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter voiced their displeasure. “This is so stupid. [Cricut] FORCE[s] us to upload to their servers and then make us pay for the privilege,” said the Reddit user u/VioletCrumble on a r/Cricut community thread. 

Ross turned to social media for clarity about the change but says she got nothing. “I decided to go to Cricut’s Facebook page to see what else was going on and they happened to be doing a live video (which they have since deleted) that went over all the changes EXCEPT the subscription issues. I commented on the video several times, hoping for clarification or answers but it was clear they were not going to respond to anything about it.” 

Ross became the top trending comment with more than 500 reactions and hundreds of replies, but with no word from Cricut, the community was forced to take action offsite. Citing the company’s belief that “creativity should be free” and machine users “shouldn’t have to pay to upload designs,” Ross and Holley Richardson, owner of Jig Street Crafts, created two separate Change.org petitions imploring company executives to walk back the policy change. Within hours the petitions scored more than 50,000 signatures each.

“The petition got a bit out of control,” says Ross. “I realized by the evening of the 12th that this movement was way bigger than me.” 

It was. On March 16th, the same day the company announced their proposed IPO, CEO Ashish Arora posted a letter of apology to the company website stating: “It is clear that, in this instance, we did not understand the full impact of our recent decision on our current members and their machines. We apologize.” Arora also announced that Cricut users registered before December 31st, 2021 would be exempt from the 20 upload limit. 

The move quieted community anger by a few decibels, until two days later when Cricut formally walked back all subscription model changes. Just as it had been before March 12th, there were no longer limits to Design Space uploads. The crafters had won. They wouldn’t be forced to “rent” their machines.   

A community of crafters forced Cricut to revert their new subscription policy.
Comments from angry users on Change.org

The subscription model―and why it didn’t work for Cricut

According to the UBS financial services firm, subscriptions are predicted to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025, double the $650 billion it’s worth now. And the move has also been successfully made by Peloton, Gillette, and GoPro, to name a few. So why didn’t it work for Cricut?

Pascal Yammine, VP and GM of Salesforce Revenue Cloud, a SaaS solution designed to help businesses manage their subscriptions, says the vetting process is often what sets a successful subscription apart from an unsuccessful one. 

“I’ve seen a lot of companies do very well and [I’ve seen] a lot of companies who haven’t had as much success with their consumer-based companies,” he says. “There are a lot of things that separate them, but one of them is simple: it’s a cultural shift.”

According to Yammine, successful subscription models aren’t born simply by “implementing software” or “changing pricing.” They happen when companies undergo a complete cultural transformation that puts the customer, rather than the company, at the center of it all. “You have to ask the questions: ‘How does it make [users] lives better? How does it produce value for them?’ And as long as you are authentically, culturally focused on that, the conversation with customers [about the shift is] typically positive.”

If you can’t do that, he says, “You won’t ever be successful.” 

Companies like Peloton (whose monthly subscription allows more than 4.4 million Peloton users to take workout classes at home), Microsoft (whose Office 365 subscription allows 214 million users to work from the cloud), and Adobe (whose model lowered the barrier of entry so much so that the company went from no subscribers to more than 22 million in only nine years) found success because their subscriptions make sense for the user. 

A community of crafters forced Cricut to revert their new subscription policy.
Outraged users on the r/cricut subreddit discussing the change

But if user-centricity is what makes those subscriptions so successful, it’s easy to see how a lack thereof could be blamed for Cricut’s failure. After all, nothing about Cricut’s subscription update made the experience any more valuable for the average user, and the community thought it just made the experience worse. In fact, crafters like Ross say it felt like the average customer wasn’t even considered in the subscription, much less a focal point of the program. 

“Cricut heavily markets their products to teachers, churches, and nonprofits. Those organizations cannot afford another $100/year fee just to use a machine that they already purchased for a minimum of $169, especially thinking that the software was free to use when they purchased it,” says Ross. “This change showed a lack of respect for their followers and customers.”

And while Cricut reverted the change before it had too much of an effect on the IPO―Cricut opened at $15.80 per share (21 percent below the initial offering price of $20) on March 25th and has skyrocketed to $37.16 in the months since―the incident may have a lasting effect on the members of the Cricut community, many of whom say they won’t ever buy another Cricut machine.

The fall out―and how it affects the bottom line  

“The damage has been done. The trust has been broken. I feel like this will always loom. At some point I feel they’ll try another tactic such as this,” says Redditor u/kriverbaker on a community thread.  “So like many [others] I will use it until I can’t and continue to save here and there for a competitor’s model.”

Ross says she wishes the program had never been announced in the first place, “When they chose to back out of the entire program I was very excited for the victory but shared in many crafters concerns that this was possibly not the end of hearing about this,” she says. “The lack of respect for the end-user made a lasting impact on my choices of what to purchase in the future.”

Utah Business reached out to Cricut for more information about the IPO and the future of Cricut but the company declined to comment through a representative. However, we did access the call transcript from the first-quarter shareholders meeting where the scandal, as well as the company’s future with subscription, was briefly mentioned by Arora.

“We’ve launched a few software services that are only available to subscribers. And I think you will continue seeing us doing that to try to enrich the overall of subscriptions with enhanced content, software, as well as other services,” says Arora. “I think you’ll see more of that in the future.”

And hopefully,  if they can keep things a little more customer-centric than before, it may just work out this time. 

Outraged users on the r/cricut subreddit discussing the change

Kelsie Foreman is the senior editor of Utah Business.

Comments (48)

  • Deb Troutman

    I spent 45.minutes taking pictures of front and back cartridges on a call with Natalie to get them in design space…of yeah she was nice the whole 45 minutes of wasted time.after I received an email wanting me to redo everything I just did..I am old school own 2 machines many cartridges their customer service is worthless and nothing is cheap with cricut..Greed has taken over this company!!! I was thinking about upgrading…if I do it won’t be a cricut!!

    reply
    • Michelle R

      Same experience. Plus they wanted me to produce receipts from cartridges that are well over 10 years old. No more.

      reply
  • Jaci_Emm

    I will be very weary of buying anymore Cricut machine items. No way for sure on the sublimation mug. No way for the joy. No to bright pad. I think I will seriously think twice. Already found cheaper vinyl elsewhere. And other supplies. Bummer. I do look forward to the patent ending so it isn’t so much a monopoly. They cut our hearts out. So sad.

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  • Barbara Mazzatenta

    Is there any alternative to using design space? Has anyone created another program. It doesn’t make sense that you can’t created or buy your own SVG, alter them on free ink scape and save to your own computer. Why things have to be saved in design space,then to your computer. Come on Linux / android/ apple designers you can do it some how. Program also needs a erase crayon /pencil, cut and slice is way more difficult than it should be. I love my cricut and the ease of use. But pay for design space no way

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    • ANDREA PICKETT

      Thanks so much for this article and all the comments. I was ready to spend my $390 for a Cricut Maker but will now reconsider and take a hard look at the Silhouette and Brother Scan n Cut.

      reply
    • Hope--prefer not to give more info incase cricut tries to come after me

      There was someone who did it, it was sued out of existence and the people who managed it say their machines don’t work the same anymore. (At least that’s the word on the sub-reddit–and on the silhouette sub-reddit.)

      reply
    • Gee

      Silhouette cameo software is far superior and you don’t have to upload to there servers. You save to our own harddrive and a cloud back up

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    • Tia

      There was a program called Sir cuts alot that allowed you to do that BUT cricut sued them design space at one point was an offline program also and just in passed years went to online only.

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    • Kris Veenstra

      Cricut already sued to get other programs shut down so there is no using your Cricut without design space.

      reply
  • Erika G

    So is CRICUT still charging for subscription? I’m confused. I just bought my CRICUT explore 3 and i had to pay for subscription:/

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    • Donnetta Sullivan

      Did you get an answer to this question???

      reply
    • Shannon

      I got my maker last Christmas and had to pay also. Still comes out of my checking account every month

      reply
      • Yuliana Luna

        Design Space if free. No you dont have to pay unless you want access to all errortheir images and fonts! You can upload your own fonts and images from elsewhere if you decide you dont want to pay for their subscription. You can cancel anytime.

      • Julie E.Baker

        Same for me

    • Kate W

      Cricut Access is not what this article is about. Cricut Access gives you access to use a lot of the fonts and images available through Design Space. The new subscription model would’ve limited how many Design Space projects you could save per month if you didn’t pay the new additional subscription fee. It’s predatory because you have to use Design Space to run the Cricut machines and there’s no option to just save your projects on your local computer.

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    • Yuliana Luna

      Design Space is free. $9.99 Subscription is optional you can cancel any time! However you cannot use most of the images and fonts in Design Space without the subscription unless you purchase them! You will have to upload your own images, svgs, and fonts from elsewhere if you choose not to pay subscription.

      reply
    • Stevi

      Yes if u bought it after march of this year from what I’ve read. It sucks for those who knew nothing about this whole mess… Definitely changed my thoughts on buying from this company in the future.

      reply
    • Hope--prefer not to give more info incase cricut tries to come after me

      Subscriptions are not supposed to be required to use the machine.

      reply
    • Karen

      Seriously? I was going to buy one, I’m glad I didn’t

      reply
  • Kristen Wiggins

    I am a single mom and grandmother. I purchased a cricut explorer to make extra money during this pandemic. I now find out I have to pay $9.99 a month just to use the machine and then only 20 designs? That makes no sense at all. I have more than 20 designs for my business. What if I just used it to label my stuff. I have more than 20 items to label. This is terrible. It’s like kick ’em when they’re down. Not cool, not cool

    reply
  • Marva Fisher

    What the heck. They already have a paid subscription! You have the ones you already bought but if there is something you don’t have you have to either subscribe to monthly or pay for the pattern you want. They do give 2 or 3 free ones but they aren’t usually ones I want. Was thinking about upgrading but doubt will now They already have me on 3 machines, about 30 cartridges that were physical (so there’s a case involved for those and all machines!) and they have changed new ones to digital. You can’t share the patterns. Yeah I agree they have become greedy and not thinking about the end user.

    reply
  • Maribel

    After spending not $200. nor $300. but, hundreds of dollars on Cricut machines, tools, materials and subscription. I know for sure that I will not invest anymore money on Cricut subscription, items or materials. Having to pay for a subscription so you can access your own files is ridiculous. Moving on to the Silhouette and good bye Cricut.

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    • Evelyn

      So I wish I had known this before I bought mine. Now a machine that will cost more to use and not make money .

      reply
  • Rhonda s

    Cricuts design space is not a great program….they should fix that before they make more machines or even consider charging for what they do have. They are not crafter’s…they are too greedy. Will not buy or reccomend any of their products in the future.

    reply
  • Nina Branson

    Just purchased the Cricut Joy plus 150.00 worth of supplies. Taking it all back.

    reply
  • Sarah S Bates

    I have an old cricut. I can’t buy anymore cartridges for it. When it was time for a new machine Cricut wasn’t even considered. I bought a brother scan n cut 2.

    reply
  • Oscar

    We need a bigger machine for print and cut or make changes on the software to make a bigger print and cut on the existing machines or we need to buy from other companies.

    reply
  • Patricia Hysler

    What a waste

    reply
  • Nicole

    Yes Design space sucks. Greedy bastards. I am going to short sell us much of Cricut stock I can, watch you continue to kill your customers, watch the stock tank and cash in on you idiots. Thanks for making a loyal user hate your products and for going public so I can tank you and rake in the $$$ –

    reply
  • LarryStymn

    Very energetic blog, I enjoyed that a lot. Will there be a part 2?

    reply
  • Kelly

    I would have no problem with the subscription model if they allowed us to use other programs with it. As it is, if you don’t use design space you have a pretty expensive paper weight. There are better programs out there. We should have seen this coming when they sued SCAL. They have always been greedy. I had hoped they changed their ways, but leopards and spots and all of that.

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  • Jim

    You can still find copies of SCAL2 here and there on the internet. Buy an older machine and have free reign on your designs. Or get a table top vinyl cutter that comes with software you pay for once for far less than a cricut.

    reply
  • Trina

    I have a Silhouette and love it. The software is easy to use. You have to buy cut files but you can also make your own. Cut files are now so widely available from 3rd parties it’s not a big deal. It is super easy to upload and download files.

    reply
    • Karen

      I bought the cameo 3 when it first came out. I never COULD figure that thing out. The auto blade wasn’t so auto to me

      reply
  • Carolyn Taylor

    I have been a customer with Cricut for years. I pay $9.99 a month for the subscription to have access to the images. I’ve always had a subscription. I am very thankful that I am able to pay for the subscription because I like the images. With so many more pressing issue going on in the emailed I found the outrage a bit ridiculous. If you don’t want the subscription then just don’t pay get. In the grand scheme of things it’s not the serious. If you use it to make things to eat, you have to spend money to make money. That’s the bottom line.

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    • Dorian Doria

      A lot of people don’t pay for the current monthly fee because they don’t use the Cricut images. I can understand charging a per item fee or monthly fee for access to all of the images in DS, I totally agree with you in that respect however I myself like lots of others upload purchased images from other sources or items like family photos and now you want to charge us to use our own images. That’s a bit like charging us a fee to drill a hole every time we use our drill. The Cricut is a tool and we shouldn’t have to pay a fee to use it. Pay to access DS images OK but not just to use the machine. This practice not only hurts the end user but all those small digital online shops that sell images and SVG files. There is a down stream affect here if users purchase less from these little shops because they may shy away from purchases if they have to pay again just to use them.

      reply
    • Gee

      I’m not sure if you read the whole article, but the 9.99 fee was going to be NON-OPTIONAL, meaning everyone was going to be forced to pay it. And you can only save images to there servers. You if you said NO to the fee, you can’t use your machine. That’s B.S.

      reply
  • Carolyn Taylor

    I have been a customer with Cricut for years. I pay $9.99 a month for the subscription to have access to the images. I’ve always had a subscription. I am very thankful that I am able to pay for the subscription because I like the images. With so many more pressing issues going on in the world I found the outrage a bit ridiculous. If you don’t want the subscription then just don’t pay get. In the grand scheme of things it’s not that serious. If you use it to make things to eat, you have to spend money to make money. That’s the bottom line. Cricut is a wonderful company and the CEO, Ashish Arora does listen to the customers. The customer service is excellent. People just need something to complain about and are so entitled.

    reply
  • Debbie Aughtman

    Was on my way to buy a maker and read this. Guess I’ll research other machines. Loved Cricut but being unemployed, I can’t afford all of the fees.

    reply
    • Hope--prefer not to give more info incase cricut tries to come after me

      Check out your local libraries! Some have Cricut, some have Silhouette, and others have Scan ‘n Cut. Really it is so helpful to learn and test out machines before you invest.

      The subreddit communities for both Silhouette and Cricut are usually very kind if you have an error and need help figuring something out! (Occasionally there’s bees in bonnets about the companies and the answers get on soapboxes).

      Anyway, welcome to the world of this type of crafting!

      reply
  • Lisa

    Problem is …all those companies supply a service. We PURCHASED a machine. And it wasn’t cheap either. I never thought that I should have to go through a “Design Space” to do what I want to do…What I do with my machine is my business. I shouldn’t have to put anything in a cloud if I don’t want to. Usually when you spend hundreds of dollars on a machine, you walk out the store and it’s yours to do as you want to.. but Cricut ties us to them FOREVER. I wanted to get the new Maker machine. I’ll be saving my money.

    reply
  • L S

    Kelsie Foreman

    Good article! Just wanted to point out, you accidentally said that Microsoft Office had 214 billion users. The linked article only said 214 million.

    reply
  • Betty May

    I was seriously going to purchase a circuit 3 reading this has totally change and my mind.Spending 399 for a bundle then having all this info 9.99 monthly for using this is out for me.Good to be in the know rather than not know.Iam very much disappointed in Circuit.I really thought this would be a good idea for me.

    reply
  • Trina Valentine

    I guess I’m one of the suckers who was out of the loop because I’m paying the 999 a month for a subscription that I’ve barely used because the machine is more complicated than what they make it out to be. I’ve managed to make a few T-shirts and that’s about it. Is there anyway to get out of paying the subscription fee and where do you go to find the SVG files for free and where do you get the fonts from?

    reply
  • Cindy

    I fear Cricut will eventually force a subscription on their users. Just like Microsoft and Adobe did. The author of the article suggests that there is value in their subscriptions and that is why they work. I strongly disagree with this point. I have a subscription to both Microsoft and Adobe because that is my only option if I want to use my files and data. It feels more like a hostage situation.

    reply
  • MARY ALFONSO

    I BOUGHT MY FIRST CRICUT EXPLORER BACK IN 2014. EVER SINCE I BEING PAYING 9.99 FOR THE DESIGN SPACE. BOUGHT CRICUT MAKER LAST DECEMBER…I DON’T UNDERSTAND NOW THEY WANT US TO PAY FOR THE USE OF THE MACHINE ALSO….SO SAD…

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  • Andrew

    Subscription is not required to use Cricut’s Design Space (DS), which is compatible with Adobe software and your own computer fonts if you don’t want to subscribe to DS. You can call customer service and find out yourself.

    reply

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