Courtesy of J.D. Power 2017 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study

Courtesy of J.D. Power 2017 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study

For a fourth consecutive year, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is ranked highest in satisfaction among rental car companies, achieving an overall satisfaction index score of 851, according to the J.D. Power 2017 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study.

In the rankings, Enterprise is followed by National Car Rental (846), Alamo Rent-A-Car (828), and Hertz (822). For 2017, overall car rental satisfaction averages 826 index points, a 22-point improvement from 2016.

Overall rental car satisfaction went up primarily due to increases in satisfaction in the cost and fees factor. The average reported daily rental car price has decreased $11 per day in 2017, according to the study. Airport rental car companies still saw an increase in overall satisfaction despite increased airport passenger congestion and ongoing logistical challenges caused by airport construction.

“Rental car satisfaction is improving, but it’s not really the type of satisfaction increase rental car companies want to see,” said Michael Taylor, travel practice lead at J.D. Power. “Lower prices are having a positive effect on perceived value for renters, which is raising overall levels of satisfaction, but several other key quality measures — notably, wait times and problems with the pick-up and return processes — have not improved over the past four years. But cheaper daily rental rates overcome those negatives for most renters.”

The 2017 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on responses between September 2016 through August 2017 gathered from 11,177 business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location.

Now in its 22nd year, the study measures overall customer satisfaction with rental cars at airport locations by examining six factors: cost and fees; pick-up process; return process; rental car; shuttle bus/van; and reservation process.

Here are some other key findings from the study:

- Wait times and problems with pickups/returns increase: Since 2013, wait times to pick up a rental car have increased two minutes on average. Of customers who experienced a problem, 20% reported an issue with the pickup process while 17% reported a problem with the return process. This is largely associated with increased passenger volume and construction at airports.

- Features and benefits have big impact on satisfaction: Renters who choose rental car brands based on price alone are the least satisfied (787), while customers who pick a rental car brand based on features and benefits are the most satisfied (889).

- Social media is platform for problem resolution: 70% of renters who post online about their rental experience expect a response from the rental company — more than the expectations of hotel guests and airline passengers (45%). When a rental company responds to a post, satisfaction increases 63 points on average. If the issue is resolved, the satisfaction score increases 95 points.