Justice for Consumers Complaining Online or Offline: Exploring Procedural, Distributive, and Interactional Justice, and the Issue of Anonymity


  • Kendra L. Harris The Harris Consulting Group
  • Lionel Thomas Livingstone College
  • Jacqueline A. Williams North Carolina A&T State University


The dramatic increase in online commerce over the past decade has raised concern over the perceived fairness of complaint handling methods in this venue. The study described in this article uses justice theory to determine whether respondents who sought complaint resolution online were satisfied in the same manner as respondents who used conventional complaint mechanisms. In this study of consumers residing in several different countries, authentic complaint experiences were analyzed. The authors found that both online and offline complaining consumers experienced justice (in general) in the complaint process. Procedural justice emerged as the dominant justice dimension, but new insight was gained with respect to how interactional justice was manifested in distinctly different ways for both online and offline complaining consumers. Some online consumers seek the anonymity that technology affords while a significant portion of the offline consumers seek the transparency and openness that many of the conventional complaint mechanisms offer (e.g. face-to-face and phone). Contrary to some other studies investigating justice perceptions and complaining behavior, distributive justice did not emerge as a top theme.



— Updated on 2022-02-02


  • 2022-02-02 (2)
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