DALLAS — When Millennium Protection Group Inc. founder Wilbur “Tray” Harrison Jr. launched the Tires for Life tire replacement program in 2005, few dealers who signed up to sell the policies could have guessed that claims would be paid from a Texas checking account and the company would land in bankruptcy court.  

Four years later, the company is defunct and a Collins County, Texas, grand jury has indicted Harrison on charges of felony aggravated perjury. Harrison’s trial is set to begin in March of next year. Meanwhile, dealers in nine states are left holding the bag for unreimbursed claims.

Last month, customers in Maryland filed a class action lawsuit against 12 dealers who sold Tires for Life policies in their state. According to court papers, the program was sold for between $1,500 and $2,500 at a cost to the dealer of $700 to $1,200. The selling point for customers was a brand new set of tires every 35,000 miles, among other benefits, for as long as they owned the vehicle.

The terms of the contracts held Millennium solely responsible for paying claims, but customers now are demanding restitution from their dealers. In a prepared statement, attorneys with Annapolis, Md.-based Mason, Cawood & Hobbs P.A. said that dealers who sold Tires for Life should be made to honor the claims.

“The Defendants had a contractual and legal obligation to honor the mechanical repair contract they sold to plaintiff and class members,” the firm stated. “... Despite the clear and unambiguous language in defendants’ advertised offerings and representations, plaintiff and class members actually received less than advertised and agreed-upon goods, parts, services and benefits from the Tires for Life Program. Instead, much to the plaintiff’s dismay and class members, the defendants have wrongfully refused to continue to service and honor the Tires for Life Program.”

Dealers learned the program was uninsured in April, when Millennium filed for Chapter 7 protection in Dallas. Harrison declared $543,000 in liabilities against zero assets, despite the fact that the company listed profits of more than $4.3 million in 2008 and $3.4 million the year before.