Understanding unethical retail disposition practice and restraint from the consumer perspective



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 for a refund. The authors first employ grounded theory methodology to develop an original framework illustrating why consumers engage in either URD participation or restraint; next, they demonstrate empirical 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 contemporary retailers, contributing to the societal discrimination that retail organizations owned by “middlemen minorities” engaged in trade and commerce often experience. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.