Purpose – Often, service failures are witnessed by other customers, but little is known about how consumers react to service recovery aimed at other customers. Using the deontic theory of justice, this paper aims to examine consumers’ reactions to justice directed toward other customers. Design/methodology/approach – Two studies were conducted to test the hypotheses. Both were 2 x 2 between subjects quasi experimental designs using written scenarios and surveys. The scenarios depicted an observing customer witnessing a service failure and recovery happening to another customer. Findings – Results show that the valence of the recovery attempt impacted the observing customer’s reactions and evaluations, and that the observer’s processing frame and loyalty status of the victim impacted the observing customer’s judgments of fairness and behavioral intentions. Originality/value – These results provide guidance to service providers by shedding light on the impact of service failures and recovery on surrounding customers.
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