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Enterprise leads the fleet

November 22, 2009|By Catharine Hamm

The rental car company chanting, "We're No. 1! We're No. 1!" isn't Hertz. It's Enterprise. For the sixth year in a row, the company that distinguishes itself with its friendly "we'll pick you up" service was the top dog in J.D. Power & Associates' report on rental car company satisfaction.

Indeed, Hertz wasn't even No. 2. That honor went to National, whose rating increased by 15 points, followed by Hertz.

The survey, conducted with an online panel and including 12,718 responses, rated rental car experiences at airport facilities on a 1,000-point scale from October 2008 to October of this year.

Categories rated included the reservation process, pickup, the vehicle, and costs and fees.

That last category has been a point of contention for some travelers because rental cars are a favorite target for extra taxes that provide for such projects as sports stadiums. It's easier to tax out-of-towners than residents (read: voters).

Customers seem less cranky this year about rental cars.

"If we look at it on an industry level, my interpretation is that the industry has stabilized," said Michael Drago, a director at J.D. Power. "We've gone from double-digit drops [in satisfaction] to a one-point decrease this year."

What distinguishes one brand from another? It's the service niche each has carved: Enterprise is amiable, National pampers with its Emerald Club perks and Hertz wants to speed along its business customers. National and Hertz, which focus on business travelers, may have the rougher road. Business travelers are more demanding, Drago said.

How the rental car companies rank

J.D. Power & Associates' 2009 Rental Car Satisfaction Study results:

*2008 ranking in parentheses

2009 National average score is 733.

2008 National average score is 734.

Source: J.D. Power & Associates

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