Purpose: This paper adopts a conservation of resources (COR) theoretical approach to examine the process of value co-destruction (VCD) emanating from the misuse of customer resources by organisations. Design/methodology/approach: A critical incidents approach was adopted where 120 customers recounted their negative experiences. The analysis identified both the nature of resources and processes involved. Findings: From a customer perspective, the VCD process is triggered by a failure of the resource integration process to co-create expected value (resources). This involves customers in unexpected primary, and often secondary, resource loss. Loss ‘cycles’ or ‘spirals’ develop impacting negatively on well-being. Customers’ attempts to restore their resources through coping strategies typically involve loss of well-being for the organisation. Research limitations/implications: The research is limited to a relatively small sample of UK customers involving diverse contexts. However, COR theory provides a framework for a better understanding of customer perceived value, the value cocreation and co-destruction process. Practical implications: The findings offer a new perspective to practitioners for understanding customer expectations and behaviour. There is a need to re-evaluate and re-design value propositions in line with organisational capabilities and customers’ resource needs. Social implications: Organisations’ misuse of customers’ resources negatively impact on ‘well-being’: a phenomenon of increasing interest at the societal level. Originality/value: This study is the first to empirically examine the concept of VCD, as perceived and experienced by customers, from a resource ecology perspective. It contributes to the growing body of work deriving from the service-dominant logic approach to value co-creation.