Understanding Unethical Retail Disposition Practice and Restraints from the Consumer Perspective

Mark S. Rosenbaum, Northern Illinois University
Ronald Kuntze, University of Tampa,
Barbara Ross-Wooldridge, University of Texas-Tyler

This research expands marketing’s knowledge regarding unethical retail disposition (URD). URD is a type of consumer fraud, whereby consumers purchase an item of merchandise with the intent of using it and returning it to a retailer. The authors develop a framework illustrating why consumers engage in either URD participation or restraint; next, they demonstrate support for the framework. The authors support and augment previous URD research by reporting that URD offenders employ eight neutralization techniques to remedy personal guilt associated with committing the fraudulent behavior. This research also takes a novel approach by illustrating that consumers describe six motivations underlying URD restraint. Most concerning for retailers is that four of the six reasons for restraint are tenuous. Thus, consumers who refrain from URD may be easily swayed to participate in this illicit behavior. The authors posit that URD may represent a means by which consumers express disdain and mistrust for retailers.

 

This article appears in Psychology and Marketing,” 28(1), 29-52 (January, 2011).