It may be asking too much for anyone in the mainstream news media to pay attention to a car rental company story, or even to spend a small amount of energy on critical analysis.
Still, yesterday’s J.D. Power study on car rental customer satisfaction broadsided me like an 18-wheeler smacking a subcompact. According to the poll, Enterprise Rent-A-Car got the highest customer-satisfaction scores among major car rental companies.
Enterprise? Nothing personal, but from my point of view as an ombudsman, it is also the most complained-about car rental company. This may be because it is the largest car rental company in North America.
But is bigger also better? And what kind of questions does that raise about J.D. Powers’ methodology?
And then there is this: the actual scores, which are buried at the bottom the press release from yesterday’s announcement.
Here they are (on a scale of 1,000).
Enterprise — 789
Hertz — 780
National — 775
Industry average — 767
Avis — 766
Alamo — 762
Budget — 754
Thrifty — 752
Dollar — 746
For simplicity’s sake, let’s knock one of these zeros off the scores and turn it into a percentage. Follow along, please.
A+ — 100 to 97.5 percent
A — 97.4 to 92.5 percent
A- 92.4 to 90.0 percent
B+ — 89.9 to 87.5 percent
B- 87.4 to 82.5 percent
B- — 82.4 to 80.0 percent
C+ — 79.9 to 77.5 percent
C — 77.4 to 72.5 percent
C- — 72.4 to 70.0 percent
D+ — 69.9 to 67.5 percent
D — 67.4 to 60.0 percent
F — Less than 60 percent
In other words, customers gave the car rental industry a “C” on customer service.
A few hours after J.D. Power released these scores, Enterprise issued a press release that played up the fact that it won but again made hardly a mention of its actual grade.
But as a customer advocate, I think we should make something of Enterprise’s grade — a C+. And we should be concerned about the industry-average, which is a pathetic C.
The car rental industry may be congratulating itself for these scores. But I see lots of room for improvement.