Quotes should be sacrosanct. I've been in a similar situation where Google "corrects" what I've got in quotes and as a result can't find anything relevant. It drove me NUTS. There's just no work-around for it For the life of me I couldn't find a way to get results for my actual search query. Thinking you know what the user wants better than the user is a Microsoft-style blunder. Apple gets away with that shit because they have a niche market that *wants* it. Google should be better than that.
If anyone wants a specific example, go to image search and try to search for "suchi". Wikipedia claims this is how you spell the name of the monkey from Captain planet (IT CAME UP, OK?). Google, however, ignores my quotes and searches for "Sushi" every time.
Also I sometimes do a web search in quotes and it will return "Showing results for Someshityoutotallydidn'ttypebutwethinkyoumayhavemeant to type. Did you mean "Shityouactaullytyped?" Search for "Shityouactaullytyped instead" and I have to click to get my results. Screw you Google. It's one thing to second-guess me and offer me the alternate search if you think I didn't mean to search for what I wanted to search for--but you should NEVER EVER show me a different search result if there were results for my actual search. I don't need my search engine assuming I'm an idiot.
I work on this sort of thing at Google. I'm sorry you've had bad experiences where we misunderstand your intent.
Words and phrases in quotes are indeed sacrosanct. In the case of image searching for "suchi," there's a simple problem -- websites that misspelled "sushi"! Look at the sushi roll from directorio.inforito.com: it's titled "suchi.jpg". This is the sort of challenge we have to work on. How do we tell the difference between "suchi" that is a spelling error and legitimate instances of "suchi," e.g., Indian radio personality "Suchitra, known affectionately as Suchi"?
Also, I hear your frustration on Google auto-correcting your query. Our statistics show that we get our users their results faster millions of times a day by "showing results for" the corrected query when our spelling system is extremely confident. Of course, the system is not 100% accurate. So it's a tradeoff. We tune the precision-recall curve aggressively in favor of precision to minimize the frustrating experiences.
Last year, responding to feedback from users, we introduced "Verbatim" mode, which disables all spelling/stemming/synonyms. You can find it under "More search tools" on the left.
If you ever have a search where we're misunderstanding your intent, and you'd like to help us improve, click the "Give us feedback" link at the bottom of the results page. My team will get it.