The Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior of Vulnerable Consumers


  • Alan R. Andreasen California State University
  • Jean Manning Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson


Interest in consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction and complaining behavior is currently undergoing a dramatic resurgence. This is largely driven by the growing importance of such information in helping service businesses track their performance. This resurgence presents an opportunity for scholars and researchers to secure attention and funding for the study of a number a critical issues that remained unresolved during the first decade of work on the topic (Hunt 1982; Hunt 1988). This paper represents an attempt to address one of these issues, the dissatisfaction and complaining behavior of vulnerable consumers. Despite considerable "objective" evidence that vulnerable consumers are not treated well by the marketplace, reported rates of dissatisfaction and complaining behavior are below those for other consumer groups. We have some understanding of why this is. However, the research to date has been limited both in the outcomes studied and in the models used to develop explanatory variables. The present paper sets out the social policy framework within which the issue arises, reports our present state of empirical knowledge on the topic, and then outlines a set of critical unresolved research questions to guide those who wish pursue this important social issue in future.