This study investigates the effect of linguistic realizations of employee empathy (LREE) on brand trust in email responses to customer complaints. We explore possible mediating effects of perceived empathy and perceived complaint handling quality and we look into moderation effects of compensation (Study 1) or customer's acceptance of blame (Study 2). Our aim is to find out if LREE have a negative or positive impact on the customer in cases of partial refunds, either because LREE are being perceived as insincere or as genuine expressions of concern. The results of two experiments show that LREE positively influence brand trust through higher perceived empathy and perceived complaint handling quality. However, the expected negative effect is not found, as LREE are more effective in a low versus high compensation condition. The effectiveness itself is not influenced by the acceptance of blame when a partial refund is offered.