• trust;
  • online shops;
  • consumer review sites;
  • trust restoration;
  • reputation


How do online shops rebuild trust on consumer-generated review sites after customers accuse them of misbehaving? Theories suggest that the effectiveness of responses depends on the type of accusation, yet online research indicates that apologies are superior to denials regardless of the type of accusation. We argue that customers are suspicious about online sellers, making denials implausible and ineffective in rebuilding trust. A good reputation may mitigate suspicion, making denials more believable and restoring trust. An experiment employed mock-ups of consumer review sites featuring different forms of consumers' complaints and shops' responses. Although reputable online shops were regarded as more trustworthy, results confirmed that denials tended not to be believed and did not rebuild trust. Apologies generated superior effects.