NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Ian Muir

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2019Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Apologies: Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment
with Basil Halperin, Benjamin Ho, John A. List: w25676
We use a theory of apologies to design a nationwide field experiment involving 1.5 million Uber ridesharing consumers who experienced late rides. Several insights emerge from our field experiment. First, apologies are not a panacea: the efficacy of an apology and whether it may backfire depend on how the apology is made. Second, across treatments, money speaks louder than words – the best form of apology is to include a coupon for a future trip. Third, in some cases sending an apology is worse than sending nothing at all, particularly for repeated apologies. For firms, caveat venditor should be the rule when considering apologies.
 
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