Customers Who Choose a Rental Car Company Based on Price Are Least Satisfied

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA--Nov. 5, 2013: Despite price being the most-frequently cited reason for customers to choose a particular rental car company, those who select based on price are the least satisfied with their overall rental car experience, according to the J.D. Power 2013 North America Rental Car Satisfaction StudySM released today. Now in its 18th year, the study measures overall customer satisfaction with rental cars at airport locations by examining six factors (listed in order of importance): cost & fees; pick-up process; return process; rental car; shuttle bus/van; and reservation process.


More than one-third (35%) of customers cite low price as a top reason for selecting their rental car company. Yet, overall satisfaction is lowest among customers who select based on price (756 on a 1,000-point scale). In comparison, overall satisfaction among customers who choose a rental car company based on good customer service is highest (828). Overall customer satisfaction with their rental car experience averages 775 in 2013, a six-point increase from 2012 and the highest satisfaction score since the study's current methodology was adopted in 2006. Customers on personal or leisure travel are slightly more satisfied, on average, than are business customers (777 vs. 771, respectively). Personal or leisure customers are more satisfied than are business customers across all factors except the pick-up process. A critical factor associated with rental car satisfaction is expediency of pick up. Among the 20 percent of customers who use a counter bypass service, satisfaction with the pick-up process averages 820 compared with 770 for those that use the rental counter. A smile from the rental car staff can have a huge impact on overall satisfaction. Overall satisfaction among customers greeted with a smile from one member of a rental car company's staff is 58 points higher than among those not greeted with a smile (693 vs. 635, respectively). Satisfaction among customers greeted with a smile by four staff members is 200 points higher than among those not greeted with a smile (835 vs. 635, respectively). National ranks highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies, with a score of 809, performing particularly well across all six factors. Enterprise ranks second with a score of 799, followed by Alamo with 782.

"While price is the first filter for selecting a rental car company for most travelers, such other factors as expediency, especially for business travelers, and customer service are what really please customers," said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. "Lowest price is often associated with a negative experience. We see the same thing in our hotel study—customers often feel like they got what they paid for, and it wasn't a positive experience."

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