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Les Schwab Tire Centers, Michelin and Cooper top tire buyer satisfaction study

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According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Replacement Tire Buyer Behavior and Satisfaction Study released today, tire buyers are most satisfied with Michelin passenger tires, and Cooper and Michelin light truck tires.

And for the third consecutive year, Les Schwab Tire Centers ranks highest in tire retailer satisfaction. (Les Schwab is the second largest independent tire store chain in North America, according to Modern Tire Dealer's latest listing, with 242 outlets. Discount Tire Centers Inc. is the largest, with 500 retail outlets.)

The study is now in its 11th year, and is based on responses from more than 9,400 vehicle owners in the United States who have recently purchased replacement tires for their vehicles.

It provides an overall picture of replacement tire buyer behavior and customer satisfaction with replacement tires as well as the purchase and ownership experience, the survey notes.

The Replacement Tire Satisfaction Index is comprised of situational performance, long-term performance (such as reliability/dependability and wearability), design and product quality.

Michelin replacement tires have ranked highest in customer satisfaction among passenger vehicle owners (cars and compact vans) for the past four years. Following Michelin in this segment are: Toyo; Uniroyal and Kelly (in a tie); and Cooper and Goodyear (in a tie).

Tire brands performing at or below industry average, in alphabetical order, include: BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Dayton, Douglas, Dunlop, Firestone, General, Sears and Yokohama, the study says.

BFGoodrich follows the top-ranked Michelin and Cooper brands in the light truck category. The remaining brands performing at or below industry average, in alphabetical order, are Firestone, Goodyear and Uniroyal.

On the retailing end, more than one-half of Les Schwab's customers indicated they are "delighted" with their overall retailer experience -- a "10" on a 10-point scale -- compared to an average of approximately one-third of all study respondents giving their retailer the highest rating possible.

Eight out of 10 Schwab customers return to the same retailer as their previous purchase, the survey says.

Following Les Schwab Tire Centers in tire retailer satisfaction are Big O Tires and Goodyear Auto Centers.

Finishing at or below industry average in tire retailer satisfaction, in alphabetical order, are: Discount Tire Co., Firestone Car Care, National Tire & Battery, Penske Auto Centers (which now are all closed), Pep Boys, Price Club/Costco, Sam's Club, Sears Auto Center, Tires Plus and Wal-Mart.

The study segments tire buyer behavior into four key categories: brand buyers, brand shoppers, retailer reliants and price shoppers.

The study says that "while a competitive tire price is foundational in tire retailing,

tire brand plays a significant role in the purchase decision for nearly one-half of all tire buyers, and tire retailer personnel influence more than one-quarter of buyers.

"Understanding the different behavioral characteristics among these segments will enable both tire manufacturers and retailers to better satisfy the expectations of their customers," said Jeff Zupancic, director of the tire practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

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