News 5 Investigates

Jul 29, 2014 8:23 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: Local Internet company suing former customer over online review

In this day and age, if you're unhappy with a product or service, you have the ability to post reviews online.

An Internet service provider in Woodland Park is going after one of its former customers after he complained of slow internet speeds.

Russell Petrick is disabled and spends a lot of time on his computer at home. He signed on with Peak Internet for web access to watch movies and surf the net.

"It was just too terrible to consider keeping," Petrick said when asked about the service.

He said he was paying $50 a month for Internet download speeds of 20 mbps.

In layman's terms, that's an average speed for basic Internet users.

Petrick claims the speeds were nowhere near that, and averaged 6.5 mbps.

"The fastest speed I got was 13.6 mbps download and 3.1 mbps upload," Petrick said. "I didn't get anywhere near the 20 mbps mark."

Upset with the service, Petrick cancelled.

However, he left a series of reviews on various sites expressing his opinions about Peak Internet.

"I feel very strongly about consumer rights," he said. "I don't like the thought of people who aren't technologically savvy paying double what they should be and getting half the speed."

In the formal complaint filed, Peak Internet claims Petrick made defamatory statements that were false.

Peak Internet and the company's attorney refused to comment about the case or explain the basis behind it, so we took our questions to Jessica Kyle Muzzio, an attorney with the Vaughan & DeMuro law firm.

"Pure opinion is not actionable under defamation as long as the facts underlying the opinion are truthful," Muzzio said.

In order for Peak Internet to have a strong case, the company would need to prove the statements made by Petrick were indeed false and whether they were made with malice.
"Malice is when you're acting with the intent to injure," Muzzio said. "You (write something) knowing it's false and you did it anyway."

Russell stands by his statements and says every comment made online is factual.

The case will now be heard in the Teller County court system.

A court date has not yet been set.

To view the formal complaint, click here:

Complaint Teller County.pdf

Muzzio adds that any company can sue anyone for any reason, but winning these types of cases can be a challenge.

Before posting an online review, it's recommended you not use any profane language or name-calling.

Also, even though you are expressing your opinion, think about whether your statements are factually correct.

If your statements can be proven false, Muzzio says the consumer could be liable.

If you have a story you'd like me to investigate, email me at eross@koaa.com.

 

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