Wisconsin's Pardeeville Area Shopper is a one-person family business run by Candace Lestina, whose mother founded the weekly paper; like all businesses, the Shopper needs internet service, and like most American businesses, the Shopper is at the mercy of a terrible, monopolistic ISP, in this case, Frontier.
Frontier's service was unusably bad: six months into Lestina's three-year contract, she concluded that that she couldn't use the service anymore, plagued by frequent outages and slowdowns. Lestina decided to switch to Charter (a company that is also terrible in every way).
But when she canceled her service, she got an "early termination" bill from Frontier for $4,300. Lestina offered the company a $500 settlement, which they turned down, insisting on the full amount. Lestina says her contract does not spell out this termination clause, but Frontier is insisting that she is legally obliged to pay it in any event.
Frontier has since sent a collections agency after Lestina.
The Frontier Internet service "was dropping all the time," Lestina told the news station. This was a big problem for Lestina, who runs the paper on her own in Pardeeville, a town of about 2,000 people. "I actually am everything. I make the paper, I distribute the paper," she said. Because of Frontier's bad service, "I would have times where I need to send my paper—I have very strict deadlines with my printer—and my Internet's out."
In Pardeeville, Frontier's website lists offers for DSL Internet service plans with speeds from 3Mbps to 12Mbps, but not for higher-speed fiber lines that are generally only available in bigger cities and towns. DSL speeds are often significantly lower than the "up to" speeds advertised by providers.
Frontier demands $4,300 cancellation fee despite horribly slow Internet [Jon Brodkin/Ars Technica]