Peak Internet Dismisses Defamation Suit Against Former Customer Who Complained About Its Lousy Connection Speeds

from the streisanded-at-more-than-20-Mbps dept

Well, that didn't take long. Within 24 hours of news spreading that Colorado's Peak Internet was suing one of its former customers for defamation, the lawsuit is being dismissed. News of the lawsuit's dismissal had begun to filter back earlier in the day -- first with an update to former customer (and former defendant) Russell Petrick's website and an email to Techdirt saying the case had been dropped.

I contacted Ryan Klein of Sherman & Howard LLC (the lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of Peak Internet) and received confirmation a few hours later.

Over at Popehat, Ken White has also received confirmation, along with the additional fact that the ISP is dismissing the case with prejudice. This prevents it from reviving its defamation claims against Petrick once it thinks no one's paying attention.

This is the effect Peak Internet failed to consider when it took steps to shut down a critical former customer. Almost immediately after Ken White's post went up, Peak Internet's Facebook page administrator began deleting critical comments, before ultimately shutting down the page completely. (White also noted a "flurry" of Colorado-based hits to his website almost immediately after the post went live.) It also apparently took to Yelp to post glowing 5-star reviews in an attempt to drown out complaints about the ISP's tactics.

Adding Techdirt's coverage to the mix obviously didn't help Peak's ad hoc Bury Brigade. Carl, the tipster who sent this story to Popehat also sent it our way, along with the unchanged salutation of "Ken." This led to Ken White threatening me over email theft

... at which point, I stole his tagline, name and famous headgear.

A good time was had by all -- all who aren't Peak Internet's upper management. It turns out that the Internet generally has a pretty good bullshit detector when it comes to companies trying to silence legit criticism and will rally around those being targeted by censorious efforts. Petrick's complaints were sound and well-written and if Peak Internet didn't want to be portrayed as a company that will sell you a 20 Mbps connection but only deliver a third of that, then it needs to do more on its end to fix the problem, rather than try to stuff a poorly-thought-out lawsuit into a critic's mouth.

To be sure, ISPs can't control everything about their connection speed, but they need to do better than provide an average of 7 Mbps when someone's paying for 20 Mbps. And it needs to stop pointing people to the fine print that only guarantees a 4 Mbps connection. If that's the best Peak can do, it needs to sell lower speed connections at lower prices, not sue those who point it out.

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