Air travelers fly car rental companies in 2021 JD Power satisfaction survey

Air travelers looking for rental cars face higher prices and lower quality rentals thanks to the continuing effects of the pandemic, JD Power said in his North America Rental Car Satisfaction Survey 2021, which put Enterprise at the top of the heap of companies that have otherwise seen their ratings drop almost universally, even from a year ago when the pandemic was in full swing. The average daily cost of renting a car is now up almost 60%.

Enterprise ranks first for overall customer satisfaction, with a score of 861, followed fairly closely by National and Alamo. Overall customer satisfaction for the industry is 830, up from 841 in 2020. The biggest loser here is Hertz, which has fallen from first place in a row to below the industry average – a result that may be explained at least in part by the quality of the vehicles. being ingested into their current rental fleets.

“Hertz and Avis pay all the money in the world at used car auctions,” said Steven Lang, Atlanta-area car dealership and creator of the Long-term quality index. “They have to do this because no fleet or rental company can get the new cars they need. The few cars they can get are ones that no new car dealer would be willing to sell on their own. . “

“The only cars that drive past franchise dealers are bits of mediocrity,” Lang said, censoring a much more colorful descriptor.

Most companies received fairly high marks for their initial responses to the pandemic, which was reflected in last year’s results. This is not the case in 2021. Prices have risen 58% in the last nine months of the study, according to JD Power, and the average daily rental costs cited by customers have reached over 90.40 $ in summer. Customer complaints increased as rental companies offered vehicles of decreasing quality while simultaneously raising prices.

“Car rental companies have faced significant challenges, both in terms of vehicle and personnel procurement, and a combination of rising costs and long queues at the airport is having a negative effect. on customer satisfaction, ”said Michael Taylor, head of travel intelligence at JD. Power. “The fact that the average price per day for car rentals now exceeds $ 90 seems almost hard to believe, but I’ve seen cases where a subcompact – booked a month in advance – costs $ 140 per day. day. Even when customers are aware of macroeconomic challenges, their personal experiences quickly trump economic theory, and the result is lower customer satisfaction. “

Rental companies went into cash-saving mode when the travel industry plunged at the start of the pandemic, auctioning off large swathes of their fleets as demand for daily rentals fell to lows of several decades. As restrictions began to lift and increased demand for travel ensued, car rental companies turned to their normal sources to rebuild. If you’ve been following the global supply chain nightmare, you probably already know what they discovered: No one had anything to sell them.

The supply of new cars is severely limited and dealers have laid bare the used market for inventory, forcing rental car companies to look to the same place where their inventory was quickly liquidated there. a year ago: wholesale auctions.

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