JD Powers is a scam

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One day, long ago, JD Powers stated loudly announcing companies who had won their prestigious and rather made up ‘JD Powers’ award.  It meant best in class service.  Now, 20 years later, this name carries some weight.  That isn’t because it means shit, it is just through persistence and advertising that they have made their name something.

Why bother?  Well, to most consumers (myself included), there is really only one company’s opinion that meant anything – Consumer Reports.  Know why consumer reports endorsement means so much?  They are a non profit!  They take no grift, which is incredible.  When they test a car, for example, they don’t get one issued to them from the manufacturer.  They actually go out and buy that car.  That way, they aren’t getting a special souped up car that the manufacturer handpicked.

So, why not just go with Consumer Report’s reviews?  This is where it gets even better; Consumer Reports won’t let company’s use their name.  It is how they stay pure.  This is why you will hear car makers say ‘a leading consumer publication named _____ truck of the year’.

So that is the great and wonderful Consumer Reports.  What does that have to do with JD Powers?  JD Powers uses a similar system of gathering consumer info, complaints, praises… etc.  This is good, and we like this.  Here is where my beef comes in –

  1. they sell that info to other companies.  I have an integrity issue with this.
  2. they charge you to use their name as an endorsement

This last one is a BIGGIE, and I have direct experience with it.  Let’s say your company wins the ‘prestigious’ JD Power award for best butt cleanser.  Let’s say that butt cleanser is your company’s butt cleanser.  Well, this is great news!  I can’t wait to tell the world!  I can’t wait to put this on our door, and in our press briefing.  I want that logo on my website!  Hold up there, little buddy.  That will cost you $50,000.  True story.  I worked for a company that won a JD Powers ‘Best in Class’ award.  We were REALLY proud of that.  In fact, the line of business that won the award was something I had a large hand in building from scratch.  This was something my team and I were so proud of, but we couldn’t tell ANYONE.  Not without paying $50,000 to JD Powers.

Because I am fearless, and work hard to tell you these tales, I did some research.  I camped out in front of the JD Powers building during their last nominating committee.  I took some pictures, but it’s kinda illegal to just post people up in here without their permission… I have an artists rendering –

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While that isn’t exactly extortion, it sure looks like a shakedown.  I would bet when JD Powers started out, they gave away rights to their little prize… like a drug dealer always gives you the first taste free.  Even if you do ‘win’, they are all up in your business –

J.D. Power now fiercely protects the advertising of its ratings, and companies must pay a licensing fee to do so. Additionally, ads must be pre-approved by J.D. Power, and the categories that can be used in advertising pitches are pre-determined each year before the surveys take place.

This reminds me of a very similar scam, ‘Who’s who in Business’.  When I was a kid, I remember my dad was featured in a ‘Whose who…’ feature.  He was a big important banking something or other.  I was so proud of my pop.  Maybe back then (30 or 40 years ago) this was a legitimate thing you had to earn.  Now it isn’t.  I know this because since then I have received many many solicitations to be featured.  They don’t ask your accomplishments, and there is no governing body to decide who is worthy.  Like being a member of the Universal Life Church (of which I am), turns out all you need is a name and ideally a face.  At least it’s free to join the ULC.  I have been a good Reverend under their banner for 19 years now.  Their vetting is akin to JD Powers and Who’s Who.  You have to have a name, be able to type in that name… AND… hit ‘submit’.  Kinda like how I get this web page URL.  Turns out, you don’t have to be correct at all.  I just… am.

You pay these people, and then they feature you in a short write up in their publication.  Then, you can use it on your resume.  I have seen people put this on their resume.  Don’t.  It doesn’t tell me you are a well regarded business person, it tells me you had $100 to spend.

When I see a JD Powers banner on a site, I don’t think ‘wow,  now this is a great company!’  I think, wow, maybe they could have spent that $50,000 on something more meaningful… like hookers and blow.

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14 thoughts on “JD Powers is a scam

  1. Completely agree.
    Another scam? The Better Business Bureau. It’s simply a franchise with protected regions. Anyone with the funds can become a BBB and start selling memberships and plaques for your business wall. Even 60 Minutes nailed them ten years ago. They are simply in the business of selling their so-called ratings.

    Another one is JCAHO, the private hospital accrediting company. You know how many hospitals have been closed by JCAHO?
    Zero. Hospitals pay THEM for their ratings and inspections. My hospital paid $30,000.

    Disgusting.

  2. Depends. If you find the J.D. Power award listed on their website, it’s public information and anyone can advertise public data any way they want (JD Power is owned by a Chinese company named XIO…). For instance, if Lexus wants to advertise “highest rated by J.D. Power for dependability,” they can do so w/o paying a license fee. Why? Because it’s public information, here: http://www.jdpower.com/press-releases/2017-vehicle-dependability-study

    • respectfully, I disagree. While I imagine that is the story they want to tell, I have direct experience otherwise. You don’t get to brandish their award until you pay their honorarium… or ‘ransom’.

      To your point… what if JD Powers puts it up themselves, on their website? Isn’t it then public discussion? Not necessarily. Here is an odd analogy. Let’s say Jerry Seinfeld gets caught by TMZ enjoying a coke. The camera man then says ‘Hey Jerry, you a Coke guy? Way better then Pepsi, huh?’

      Can Coke start an ad campaign that says ‘Jerry Seinfeld prefers Coke!’? They could not. Not without his permission, and a truckload of cash.

  3. Don’t forget that James D Power III who founded JD Power & Assoc. (The associates he referenced originally were actually his wife and children) also worked marketing for Ford, and Marplan which did marketing for General Motors Corp. JD Power rankings are bought and paid for garbage…

  4. i find J D Powers’ endorsements over the decades – first the pathetic Chrysler Corp now the (crooked) GM endorsements – driven by greeeed alone. My 2011 Cruze was the resurrection of the Corvair re lie abilitywise, yet they seem to be getting PRAISE lately which may/may not be J.D.P. driven? bottom line: all my faith goes to Consumer Reports –
    NONE to J.D.P. btw, forewarned is forearmed…

    • nice analogy to the Corvair. Not many people know, but that thing was such a deadly piece of shit that Ralph Nader pretty much made his bones as a consumer advocate writing about it. “unsafe at any speed”

  5. I worked for a competitor that touted the JD Powers Award. I strongly believed we were a better company. This being said, the JD Powers Award is simply a bought and paid for award.

  6. When I purchased my vehicle I was promised free oil changes if I gave perfect scores of the dealer on my JDPower survey….

  7. You can publicize what they publish on the web site, but they only publicize big picture on the website. If you want to tout that a particular model received best in class, you have to pay to get the individual model data and pay to use their name.

    • Jerry, yes. and that is why I think it is a disingenuous bullshit shakedown. Do you think Meryl Streep has to pay the Academy 50K every time it is mentioned she is an Oscar winner? I have since learned another interesting and kind of sad scam… the hollywood walk of fame. You got a star by making a VERY large donation. that is the selection process. It has nothing to do with merit. I guess I am naive, and maybe everything in life works that way. I wish I could say more about the specifics of which I speak. However, I do’n’t want to slander anyone or get myself sued. Nor do I want my last employer to get in to trouble for stupid shit I said. They are the victims here.

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