WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. Customer satisfaction with airport car rentals has declined, according to an annual survey by J.D. Power and Associates.
Now in its 12th year, the study measures overall customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports by examining costs and fees, pick-up process, the rental car itself, return process, reservation process and shuttle bus or van.
The survey uses a 1,000-point scale, and found that overall satisfaction dropped from 767 points in 2006 to 750 points in 2007.
Jim Gaz, senior director of travel and entertainment at J.D. Power, said in a statement that "the decline in customer satisfaction with rental cars is indicative of a general decline in performance throughout the travel industry in 2007 from airports to airlines to hotels."
He noted that in addition to rising fuel prices and decreased availability of new rental vehicles, "customer satisfaction may also be influenced by the snowball effect from frustrations consumers are facing with the entire travel experience."
The survey brought good news for one rental car company, however: Enterprise ranked highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies for a fourth consecutive year, followed by Hertz and National.
The study also found that the waiting time for picking up rental cars an average of 22 minutes is longer than other parts of the travel experience, including getting a boarding pass and checking baggage, which air travelers surveyed by J.D. Power have reported at 13 minutes on average; and going through airport security, reported at an average 15 minutes. Even retrieving checked luggage 18 minutes and waiting to check in at a hotel 10 minutes take less time than picking up a rental car, according to J.D. Power.
But J.D. Power also noted that new technology could improve satisfaction in the future, as rental companies institute new online booking tools, electronic toll collection services, hourly rental rates, GPS navigation systems and other automated conveniences.
The 2007 Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on 5,859 evaluations from business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location between September 2006 and September 2007. Details at www.JDPower.com.