Consumers think that just because the government orders a company to recall an unsafe product they will have no more problems. Silly people.

The largest recall in history has been of a radial tire that was deemed unsafe for the road. After paying lawyers millions of dollars to keep the government from recalling the radial, the company finally gave in and agreed to replace the tire.

The consent agreement looked good on paper, but the consumer hasn't had as much luck as the government in getting his tires changed.

A friend of mine went to his local tire store and said, "I just received this notice that you would change my tires, which are unsafe and could cause me and my family to become needlessly involved in an accident."

"Unfortunately, we do not have any substitute tire to give you at this time," the tire distributor said nervously, "and would you mind not parking in the area because you are taking up space for customers who wants to buy new tires."

"But wait a minute. It says right here in this registered letter that the tire company is terribly sorry about the alleged poor workmanship of the radials I bought and wishes to make amends. It further states that all I have to do is take my tires down to my local dealer, which is you, and you will be happy to give me four new tires that won't fall apart when they are driven on the highway."

"It is true that the tires to which you refer were once handled by me," the tire man said. "But we cannot be responsible for the lousy way someone designed them. The company we are both talking about expects us dealers to change these tires without covering the costs of time and labor. I don't see why we should take a bath on them just because you got a registered letter."

"Everything you say may be true, but someone has to give us new tires and because you handle the product when times are good, you should take care of us when things go wrong. That is the American way, which has made this country so great that almost anyone can afford a defective radial tire."

"Mister, if I had honor every registered letter sent out to this area, I would be doing nothing but changing lousy tires for good ones. Right now, I am trying to sell snow tires. How can I sell them if you keep bothering me about some stupid recall?"

"I can see your problem. But what fun is it getting a registered recall letter from a tire company if I can't get anyone to give me safe tires? What am I supposed to do?"

You could buy new tires at a special Thanksgiving Day price and I will take back the ones you have on your car without charging you for the labor of taking them off."

"But wait! Why should I pay for new tires when it says right here in the registered letter that I am supposed to get them free?"

"I am not stopping you from getting them free. I am just telling you I have no intention giving them to you for nothing because it is not my responsibility. You can write to the company and tell them I won't give you new radials, or you can write to the government telling them the same thing. In either case, by the time you get an answer I doubt if there'll be any tread on those tires."

"Sir, you leave me no choice. For the sake of my family, I have to pay for the new tires, whether I want to or not."

"That's what I have been trying to tell you, but it's going to take some time. Just get in that long line over there with all those other tearful people who are clutching registered letters in their hands."