Illegitimate complaints: are they legit? Linking neutralization techniques and customer-company relationships to illegitimate complaining behavior

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Making mistakes is common in products and services. As a consequence, customers could complain about these mistakes. These complaints can be legitimate, but also exaggerated or even forged. Those, illegitimate complaints can cause a lot of personal and financial damage for businesses, something that companies like to prevent. This master thesis is a follow-up to previous studies of dr. H. Joosten about illegitimate complaining behavior. Previously, some drivers of this behavior were identified. Current study is an attempt to confirm those drivers. Furthermore, potential types of illegitimate complainants are described, and linked to neutralization techniques. Hereafter, the impact on the customer-company relationship was compared and discussed per type. Therefore, the following research question was set up: “What are the relationships between the three types of illegitimate complainants, the neutralization techniques, and the customer-company relationship?”. By conducting an online survey, data was gathered for a regression analysis, factor analysis, cluster analysis and multivariate analysis of variance. Current study concluded that companies should invest time and money in the relationship with their customers, to prevent them from complaining illegitimately in the future. They should adopt the customer is always right principle, as long as strict boundaries regarding the redress policy are set. Nonetheless, further research is desirable to investigate whether these findings hold when the adjusted types of illegitimate complainants are tested.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen