To S.D. Firm, a Mailbox Is a Suite Everywhere Except Pennsylvania

A drop is not a home. Or: How suite it isn’t.

Anthony DeSio, president of San Diego-based Mail Boxes Etc. USA Inc., sees the word suite and says it’s a way to help small businesses survive in a killer recession.

Ernest D. Preate Jr., attorney general of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, sees the same word and sees an opportunity for flimflammery and fraud.

Thus Pennsylvania sued Mail Boxes Etc., which has 1,200 outlets nationwide, including 35 in Pennsylvania, to stop allowing its customers to refer to their private mailboxes as “suites” in their fund raising or advertising.


Preate says he’s worried that some unsuspecting soul who sees a return address with the word suite might think the business was more substantial or more locally based than it is.

A mail drop is not a suite, he reasons.

DeSio says Preate is a headline-grabbing politician who ought to worry more about chasing criminals and less about harassing business people.

Mail Boxes rents mailboxes and sells faxing, duplicating and mailing services. The word suite allows a small business, possibly a mom-and-pop, at-home business, to put on the dog a little when trying to compete, DeSio says.


“There must not be any criminals to pursue in Pennsylvania,” DeSio said. “This was strictly a nonsense-type lawsuit to get a little notoriety for a politician, without the risk of suing a local company.”

After a yearlong hair-pulling contest, Mail Boxes has decided to settle: not admitting any fault but paying $12,500 in penalties and agreeing to no longer market the boxes as suites in Pennsylvania.

Preate is dancing around like Rocky Balboa, hands raised in a victory for consumers.

“Unscrupulous businesses can (no longer) mislead consumers with such terms,” Preate said in a press release.

DeSio says that no other state has a problem with suite (or apartment ). He’s annoyed at Preate for issuing press releases to crow.

Still, he finds the settlement with Preate a bargain: “It was worth $12,000 just to get rid of that guy.”

More Bark Than Bite

Things of varying importance.


* Going to the . . .

As Lehr’s Greenhouse and then Tijuana Tilley’s, it was one of the most noticeable drink-and-eatery nightspots in Mission Valley.

But restaurant tenants are hard to attract these days and the glassy building has been empty for several years.

Now, a new use: as a training spot for the canine unit of the San Diego Police Department, which is always sniffing for good places to train.

* Udder impossibility.

The city of San Diego’s Waste Management Department is looking for ways to recycle the mountain of paper generated by the city government.

But officials think they’ll skip a recycling idea submitted from Ontario, Canada, where it has been successful: using old paper to wipe down the udders of dairy cows.

Too few cows in San Diego to make the idea feasible, officials here decided.


* Another sign that John Duffy is really gone.

The Sheriff’s Department has hired its first community relations coordinator: Cleo Thompson, 44, of Lemon Grove, Vietnam veteran, former volunteer recruiter for United Way.

* Dick Rider, chairman of the local Libertarian Party and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that overturned the Proposition A sales tax for jails and courts, is “99% certain” he’ll run for 3rd District county supervisor.

Other possible candidates: Councilwomen Abbe Wolfsheimer and Judy McCarty, and lawyer Bob Simmons.

Check Out Those Dividends

Facts and figures.

Most annual reports are stuffy things: lots of numbers and dull prose.

This year a San Diego company is trying something more eye-catching in its report to investors.

The numbers and prose are still there. But so are full-page pictures of the company’s product line, in use.

The company is Body Drama. The product: come-hither lingerie for liberated ladies.

The result is an annual report that could qualify for a plain brown wrapper.