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Rental Car Customers Happier in New Survey

Posted November 23, 2010, 09:00 AM HST
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When someone thinks of rental car companies, they don’t always think of the best experience.  Between paperwork and insurance forms, cheap cloth seats and all plastic interiors on the rented autos, there isn’t a whole lot to be absolutely thrilled about.  This year, though, a new customer survey by J.D. Power finds that people are finding more things to be pleased about in their car rental company.

This year and for the last six years, rental car company Enterprise Rent-A-Car was rated the best for customer satisfaction among all other rental companies.  National Car Rental (also owned by Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s parent company) ranked as number two on the list followed by Hertz at number three.

This year J.D. Power and Associates surveyed some 11,567 renters on six main criteria including costs, pick-up processes, the car itself, returns, reservations and whether the company provided shuttle services to or from the rental lot.  Together, these ratings were used to create a scoring system with 1000 being the best, or perfect, customer satisfaction score.

Enterprise’s best score of 786 was sixteen points higher than a year prior, and 19 points higher than second place National Car Rental at 767 points.  Hertz’s rounded out the top three with a score of 762, an improvement over the year before.  The top three helped skew average customer satisfaction scores to 750 points, placing fourth place Alamo Rental Car below the “average” rating.

Budget, Dollar, and Thrify rental companies rounded out the bottom with scores of 729, 723, and 713 respectively.  All companies improved in their ratings over the year prior, a testament to investment in their brands and businesses following a rocky recession.

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Simple Improvements

The rise in scores is mostly attributed to lower fees and better services at the three major rental companies.  In 2008, a number of companies tacked on service charges and other fees meant to cover excessive gasoline use, wear and tear, and other costs that weren’t removed or better hidden from the customer until after last year’s surveys.  Also helping the performance scores are improved customer service marks as rental companies add workers to balance out improvements in travel in 2010.

Less expensive fleet models offered by automotive manufacturers now sport new features previously found only on luxury cars.  On-board GPS navigation, leather seats, and a plethora of other features and better quality fleet cars only helps rental companies attract customers.  With the automotive industry as competitive as ever, consistent deals should only help improve rental car fleets.

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