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Illegitimate returns as a trigger for customers’ ethical dissonance

Seger-Guttmann, Tali, Vilnai-Yavetz, Iris, Chen-Ya Wang and Luca Petruzzellis

Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2018, vol. 45, issue C, 120-131

Abstract: This study investigates the combined impact of customer merchandise return circumstances (legitimate or illegitimate) and service employee responses on customer outcomes (loyalty and ingratiation), through the lens of the ethical dissonance framework. Respondents (N = 916) were randomly divided among six experimental conditions in a 2 × 3 between-subjects design. As predicted, returns circumstances moderated the relationship between employee responses and customer outcomes: Despite employees’ angry response to delinquent customers, the latter's levels of loyalty toward the business as well as ingratiation toward the service employees were less damaged than in the case of normative customers exposed to the same employee angry response. This, we suggest, reflects an intention to quiet the dissonance on the part of the customers upon realizing that their delinquent behavior was evident to the service employee.

Keywords: Ethical dissonance; Customer-related outcomes; Customer loyalty; Customer ingratiation; Fraudulent return; Employees’ responses (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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