— -- Relatively unknown ACE Rent A Car ranks highest in satisfaction among airport customers, according to a consumer survey released today by J.D. Power and Associates.
ACE, which has about 200 rental facilities worldwide, replaces Enterprise Rent-A-Car, ranked No. 1 in the previous seven annual surveys.
Appearing for the first time in the J.D. Power survey, ACE scores 793 on a 1,000-point scale — 6 points higher than No. 2 Enterprise. Most ACE facilities at airports are outside terminal areas, and all are independently owned and operated.
National Car Rental— which along with Enterprise and Alamo Rent A Car is owned and operated by Enterprise Holdings — ranks No. 3 in customer satisfaction, and Hertz ranks No. 4.
Fox Rent A Car finishes last among 11 companies in the survey, and Thrifty Car Rental is next to last.
The survey, which used the Internet to poll consumers who rented cars at airports in North America during the first nine months of this year, looks at six factors to measure overall customer satisfaction: costs and fees, pick-up process, rental car, return process, reservation process and shuttle bus or van service.
The survey also finds that customers throughout the auto-rental industry are more satisfied than they were last year — or any year since 2006.
Based on 12,567 rental evaluations, the 11 auto-rental companies in the survey combine for an average satisfaction score of 758 — 8 points higher than last year.
"As rental car companies have kept an eye on profitable revenue growth, productivity, cost control and fleet management, it is clear they have also maintained a strong and keen focus on serving their customers," says Jessica McGregor, a J.D. Power travel and hospitality manager.
Among other survey findings:
•Satisfaction of business travelers increased 15 points over last year. There's a 3-point increase in satisfaction among leisure travelers.
•17% of survey respondents report problems with their rental. The No. 1 problem is the "pick-up process," followed by problems with the "return process" and billing.
•The average waiting time to pick up a rental is 17.2 minutes — a decrease from 20.5 minutes last year.