What happens when things go wrong? Retail sales explanations and their effects

Jarrad Dunning, Anthony Pecotich, Aron O'Cass*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Not all marketplace interactions are initially successful, and often customer expectations are not met, resulting in dissatisfaction, which leads to complaint and redress-seeking behavior. In this process, the nature of the explanations and other aspects of the firm-customer interaction are critical. This study investigates the proposition that explanation adequacy plays a critical role in the resolution of unsatisfactory sales encounters. Data were collected from a sample of consumers and analyzed with the use of structural-equation modeling. The findings indicate that explanation adequacy is influenced by the style and content of the explanation and the timeliness of an organization's reaction. However, explanation adequacy appears to only influence the final perceptions (indirectly) of the severity of the incident and emotional reaction to it, and the perceptions of the extent of the justice of the resolution and the assignment of blame to external factors were found to be intervening variables. The results also indicated that the assignment of blame to internal factors was unrelated to the adequacy of an explanation, but did influence emotional reactions and the perceived severity of the incident.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-572
Number of pages20
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


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