Endeavors to address issues surrounding service failure have centered mainly on the topic of service recovery. In particular, perceived fairness and organizational responses to service failures are highly popular topics in the literature. Yet the vast majority of customers fail to voice their dissatisfaction to the firm. Consequently, it is important to understand how consumers process service failures regardless of the recovery outcome. This study examines the impact of perceived controllability over service failures and service quality expectations on customer reactions to those failures. Findings indicate that customers react quite negatively when they believe the service firm could have easily prevented the failure. Conversely, when customers feel partly responsible for the failure or are ambiguous about its cause, the negative effects of poor performance are somewhat mitigated. Finally, high service quality expectations also buffer the firm from the negativity effect. Managerial implications of these findings are briefly discussed.
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