• Apr 6, 2012
J.D. Power has become a household name thanks to the organization's yearly awards based on in-depth consumer surveys about all manner of goods and services. In the automotive industry, manufacturers constantly struggle to best each other for top honors, and that struggle has helped push the industry toward ever-better quality. But as Ward's Auto points out, few people know the man behind the name.

James David Power III began licensing manufacturers to use his award in advertisements in 1986, two years after Subaru dropped the J.D. Power name in a Super Bowl ad.

In 2005, Power sold J.D. Power and Associates to publishing giant McGraw-Hill, but stayed on with the company until 2009. Even after his departure, Ward's Auto says Power is proud of the empire he helped build. While outlets like Consumer Reports have gained a substantial following, the organization only polls its own subscribers, while J.D. Power takes its data from a larger cross section of consumers.

Using a separate operation to keep conflicts of interest at bay, companies must pay a fee to be able to use the J.D. Power name in their ads. Yet J.D. Power is not without controversy – auto companies pay substantial fees for access to its various quality metrics and counsel, leading critics to suggest there's a conflict of interest in having a quality auditor paid by the very companies it monitors. In addition, critics note that the company's much ballyhooed Initial Quality Study isn't purely a study of manufacturing defects, but rather an arcane formula that mixes actual owner problems with design flaws (think: cupholders that can't hold a Venti Frappucino from Starbucks). As most consumers are likely to equate the idea of quality with a product free of problems, the thought is that this is somewhat misleading methodology.

Either way, there's no doubting J.D. Power's impact on the auto biz – both the company and the man who bears its name. To learn more about him, check out the in-depth Ward's Auto article at the link below.


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  • 22 Comments
      b
      • 2 Years Ago
      Max Power, that's the man who's name you'd love to touch, but you musn't touch!
      The Other Bob
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Yet J.D. Power is not without controversy – auto companies pay substantial fees for access to its various quality metrics and counsel, leading critics to suggest there's a conflict of interest in having a quality auditor paid by the very companies it monitors." JD Powers and Consumers both sell data. JD Powers in whatever survey format they use, and Consumer Reports sells theirs in Magazine form. If JD Powers was just selling awards, like Consumer’s Digest, critics might have a point, but JD Powers sells way more data than that to help product makers improve and market their products. I cannot see JD Powers swaying the data in favor of a manufacturer and then expecting the manufacturer to pay big bucks for that data - it would be worthless. Keep in mind the data these companies are buying is far more detailed that the awards and surveys we see.
      uzombie
      • 2 Years Ago
      Thanks for the buck, and I recycled (cross-shredded fuel) your survey. (heh, wait, a $1 to spend 30minutes giving you information that you resell for $$$,$$$s??? My time is worth more than a buck! And so is my experience with xyz auto)
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Whatever they say, whenever a product reviewer is getting money from the manufacturer of the product, be it for licensing of awards, or "membership" fee or advertisement, the reviewer cannot be impartial. This is why I trust Consumer Reports much more than J.D. Power or even AutoBlog. Also, J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study cannot predict long term reliability as well as Consumer Reports study. CR polls owners of all cars, even if it is 10 years old.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        [blocked]
          desinerd1
          • 2 Years Ago
          I have seen their dependability study as well. It is nowhere as detailed as CR. And since you and I are not car manufacturers, the detailed data is not available to us.
        amonkeysaddle
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        If you have a product that is on the shelf that people purchase, how is the purchaser biasing the results? The studies that JD Power produces that everyone sees advertised are "off the shelf" that clients choose to purchase. They're not biased towards any one manufacturer.
          desinerd1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @amonkeysaddle
          I am not talking about whether or not J.D.Power reviewers are getting a special vehicle. I'm saying that subjective things like styling, comfort, sportiness can be fudged. The review could be biased if one of the manufacturer is also your customer. So let's say Audi pays them licensing fee but BMW doesn't, the reviewer might be biased to call Audi more sporty or stylish.
      Famsert
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is why I trust Consumer Reports' data over JD Powers. Not only is their sample size small, there's potential conflict of interest, and their initial quality survey is useless.
      reattadudes
      • 2 Years Ago
      everyone should take the time and read the attached Ward's story. TOYOTA was his first "client" back in 1968, when American manufacturers blew him off. could that (just maybe) be why Toyota ALWAYS was at or near the top of the J.D. Power "ratings"? Power has never been unbiased, and awards from Power are nothing but for sale to the highest bidder.
        Frank
        • 2 Years Ago
        @reattadudes
        Could it just be that Toyota was smart enough to recognize that Power's data would be valuable to them to help them improve their product?
      Mark
      • 2 Years Ago
      As a consumer that has purchased over 15 new vehicles in my life, I must say that I've never paid attention to what JD Powers publishes. It has no sway of my decisions.
      Basil Exposition
      • 2 Years Ago
      Exposition's not bad, but man, I would LOVE to have the last name Power.
      osunick
      • 2 Years Ago
      They are a bunch of ********. I bought a car from a dealership in 2003, and they immediately offered to exchange my blank JD Power survey for a free oil change. I emailed JD Power to report this apparent misconduct, and they forwarded my email with my address attached to the dealer. The dealer called me in a fit of rage as a result. It is clear that they have no interest in producing accurate survey data, they just want to be able to sell their endorsement to manufacturers.
      D
      • 2 Years Ago
      A watch dog company for retards.
      ponycargt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Could that be the reason why you've had to go through so many vehicles?
      carfan
      • 2 Years Ago
      who exactly is JD power...well I'll tell you who he is: this is the ******* who got rich promoting toyota and honda to the ignorant american public. Thank God we Europeans don't have such pigs.
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