I had a bad experience with Merchant Tires in Northern Virginia just off Route 395. They almost killed me. I brought a car into them for repair. I told them that I didn't know what was wrong with it; but it was vibrating, rattling, and shaking in several different ways, all at the same time; and it struck me as unsafe to drive. A couple of days later they called to tell me that they had identified and repaired the problem; and that it would cost me about $500 for the repair. I asked them the nature of the problem; and they told me that it was electrical. I protested that an electrical problem could not cause the car to vibrate and shake; but they were insistent; and when they swore to me that they had test driven the car and it now drove smoothly, I relented.
Later that day, I called them back to confirm that they had test driven the car, and that it was now fully repaired. I then went to the Merchant Tires store to pick up the car. While I was paying the $500 +/- for the repairs, they assured me a third time that they had test driven the car, and that it was fully repaired. I got into the car, started it up, and immediately noticed that it was exactly as I had left it, unsafe to drive. I went back inside the store and complained. They again assured me that they had test driven the car; and that it was fully repaired; but they sent a mechanic to test drive the car with me so that I could point out to him my concerns. We proceeded to drive around the block. We got about 3/4 of the way when the right front wheel came off the car and the car pitched nose down into the pavement, crushing the right front fender.
The mechanic and I walked back to the Merchant Tire store, where the manager admitted that they had not test driven the car. When I asked him why he and his people had lied to me multiple times about that, his only and repeated explanation was that it wasn't their fault, because they have poor communication between the mechanics and the people who deal with the public. They did refund my money, and reattach my wheel' but they refused to assume responsibility for the new damage caused by the wheel falling off. They claimed that since they did not unfasten the bolts, they bore no responsibility. I protested that since they accepted my money for a fraudulent repair that never took place, and had assured me several times that the car had been repaired and test driven, that those acts constituted accepting responsibility for the repair of the problem at hand. They further stated that I had failed to point out to them that the bolts were loose.
I noted that when I delivered the car to them, I explicitly stated that I didn't know the cause of the problem; but I did describe the symptoms; and they had assured me (lied to me) that the symptoms were gone, claiming that they had located and repaired the problem. When I expressed incredulity concerning their explanation of the problem (that it was electrical), they were insistent. That is accepting responsibility. They still refused to own up.
Later, I complained all the way up to their corporate headquarters, and was astounded to hear these same ridiculous evasions repeated. Additionally, they claimed that, since the cost of repairs now exceeded the value of the car, they couldn't be bothered. These people were clearly criminals all the way to the top of their leadership.
The reason that this was very nearly a deadly encounter (aside from the fact that I should have shot all of them), was that the store was just off the highway; and if I had driven the car off the lot and homeward, as was my original intention, the wheel would likely have come off the car while I was driving at 60 miles per hour. Their criminal negligence did very nearly kill me.