A move by market consultant J.D. Power and Associates into the consumer auto club business has put a potential chill into its relationship with the recreation vehicle industry.

California-based J.D. Power, which last year conducted consumer research on quality issues for the Go RVing Coalition’s Committee on Excellence, recently merged its web site (www.jdpower.com) with that of the Consumers Car Club (www.carclub.com) in an effort to create a member services organization that would “revolutionize the consumer shopping and ownership experience” for auto buyers.

In the company’s attendant public relations release, J.D. Power indicated it would be looking to expand its Web site in the future, and that a similar service for RV buyers was a possibility. This, members on the committee on excellence pointed out in June, during RVIA Committee Week, could possibly put J.D. Power in direct competition with RV dealers in the sale of a variety of financial services.

“The conclusion of the committee was that J.D. Power would, in fact, be competing with dealers in several areas, including retail financing, credit life and liability insurance,” according to Jim Sheldon, committee chairman and assistant to chairman of Monaco Coach Corp.

RVIA, consequently, asked J.D. Power to clarify its intentions before it would give final approval to a second round of surveys of RV owners by J.D. Power.

The new study would gauge consumer satisfaction levels with RVs and, to a lesser extent, RV dealerships and campgrounds. The cost is tentatively set at $407,000, depending on how many companies participate.

Based on the speculation, the committee approved — and RVIA’s board concurred — that the RV industry would contract with J.D. Power for a second study provided that J.D. Power, first of all, agree not to develop an Internet RV owners club for the period of the contract plus two years following the termination of the agreement, and, secondly, give “due diligence” to budget renegotiations in regard to the actual number of RV manufacturers participating in the study.