By Brendan Moore
I am willing to bet a lot of money that you’ve probably heard of J.D. Power if you’ve bought a car in the last decade.
And, maybe, although it’s a much smaller chance, you may have heard of one of the smaller companies like Strategic Vision. These companies do customer satisfaction surveys regarding car purchases and car ownership, focusing on reliability and customer satisfaction. Many car buyers will not buy a car without first finding out what J.D. Power said about models in the segment they’re considering. After, of course, they read what Consumer Reports had to say when they tested the cars. But, let’s stick to the reliability and customer satisfaction companies for now, the J.D. Power types.
The main problem I’ve always had with the reliability and customer satisfaction surveys for automobiles is simple: they’re flawed in terms of the weighting given to problems experienced. That’s just the main problem; there are others, as an example, they’re flawed to some degree in the way the participants in the studies do self-selection. So, there is a larger universe of minor issues I have with these companies and the research methodology. I have a considerable background in customer research (both qualitative and quantitative) and data analysis from a previous life, so it’s not as if I’m arriving at these conclusions without some thought on the matter.
Which handily brings me to my subject of this piece: TrueDelta. I am willing to bet that you have not heard of this alternative to the more well-known vehicle reliability research firms.
TrueDelta is, yes, a vehicle research firm, but one that also has valuable data for consumers around other parts of the vehicle purchase and ownership experience. TrueDelta at this point is pretty much Michael Karesh, the founder and president. I discovered TrueDelta last year, and shortly after I contacted Michael Karesh as I was intrigued with what I saw. I’ve had a lot of long conversations with Michael over the last six months, and I think he’s doing a good job of tackling some of the long-standing issues I’ve had with other consumer vehicle research companies and their methodologies. I think I’ve probably been making him a little crazy lately with all of my attempts to find holes in his consumer surveys as well as my lecture series on residual lease values (hey, he asked) that we’ve done over the phone, but he’s a patient man so he puts up with all of it.
Anyway, TrueDelta is doing some good work in their arena, and if you need some more data points around vehicle reliability, pricing differences of new cars, etc., then you might want to visit them when you get a chance. You don’t have to abandon J.D. Power as their data certainly has value, but you may wish to use the information on TrueDelta simply as a comparison if nothing else. My opinion is that TrueDelta’s data has a greater degree of integrity, but you should reach your own conclusions. No matter what you decide, I think it’s to your advantage to use another good source of information if you’re interested in a purchasing a new car. Never hurts to have some more data, right?
TrueDelta is at http://www.truedelta.com/
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