Thursday, September 17, 2009

too much Power?

from :

Trendmaker's Tale of Woe

Many builders mutter in private, but few are willing to publicly accuse J.D. Power and Associates of manipulating customer satisfaction survey results. Trendmaker Homes President Will Holder comes pretty close.

The Houston subsidiary of public giant Weyerhaeuser Real Estate will close more than 700 homes this year, at an average price above $400,000. That should put it among the builders in J.D. Power's Houston market survey, but it's not there. Holder suspects the reason may be that he dropped his subscription to J.D. Power's consulting services several years after refusing to pay a hefty licensing fee to use the J.D. Power name to advertise Trendmaker's win in 2001.

"The year we tied for first, they wanted $70,000 to allow us to advertise it," he says now. "We didn't see that much value in it.

"We subscribed to their services the first year they came to Houston," Holder says, "for $30,000. We thought we'd get a different perspective from a survey of all buyers in the market, not just our own. After seeing their presentations a couple of years, I began to suspect they could use their weighting of questions to manipulate the winner."

Holder says he finally dropped J.D. Power because he believes the survey is not important to buyers: "They don't get much press anymore. Realtors put more stock in their personal experience with builders than in what J.D. Power says. They don't ask us about it."

He admits to being scared of J.D. Power. "There's pressure to subscribe," he says. "It never felt very good. When we decided not to pay them anymore, I was scared."


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