How To Write An Effective Letter of Complaint

Comments (20)

You're so mad you could spit. That #*^$% company got your order wrong again. You're gonna fire off a letter that'll make made their head spin. Nobody's gonna treat you like that!

Sound familiar? If it does, you're not alone. We've all been there. The difference is that some of us write letters that get results. Others write letters that get us ignored or ridiculed.

Written correctly, a letter of complaint can be very effective at getting you the results you want. You might even get more than you expected. Some letter writers report receiving surprize gifts and merchandise in response to a well written complaint. Many businesses appreciate knowing when something is going wrong, and they will do what they can to create goodwill with a dissatisfied customer.

The following suggestions will help you write a letter of complaint that's likely to be read and acted upon.

Complain only when appropriate. Sending numerous, frivolous letters of complaint will get you nowhere. Send your letters only for genuine complaints, and only after initial communication with company representatives has failed. In other words, if the widget you bought didn't work as expected, you would ask the sales person or the customer service department to correct the problem before you fire off a letter of complaint to head office.

Address the letter to the correct person. You need to reach the person who has the authority to correct the problem. Inevitably, this will be a supervisor, a manager or a company executive.

If your complaint is with a local business, address the letter to the owner or manager.

If you're dealing with a local branch of a large corporation, you'll need to find out whether your complaint lies with the local branch or if the problem was created by policies set by a corporate office. If it's with corporate office, you'll send the letter there.

It might take some detective work to find out who should receive your letter. If you can't find out by asking, try the company web site, annual reports, or business directories in your local library.

Be courteous and professional. Avoid sarcasm. No matter how angry you are, sending a rude, discourteous, inflammatory letter will not help you get the problem corrected.

Keep it short. One page is all you need. The manager is more likely to read and act on your letter if you keep it brief, factual and to the point. No one has time or patience to wade through a six-page tome.

Be factual. Identify the problem and outline the efforts you have made to correct the problem. Remember the five rules of journalism: Who, What, When, Where and How.

Identify what you want. You have a complaint. What will it take to make things right? Do you want your money refunded? Do you want the product exchanged? Do you want a service contract extended? Do you want an apology? Stipulate what you want.

Remember to date your letter and include full contact information, including account numbers or any other info that the recipient might need to trace your problem.

State consequences when previous letters have failed to get the problem corrected. It is both unnecessary and ineffective to start out with threats of various punitive actions. Remember, the recipient doesn't appreciate receiving threats any more than you do. But, when previous attempts have failed, it's time to state what you are prepared to do, and when. You might say, "And, if I have not heard from you by the 30th of this month, I will take action."

Taking action could mean contacting your credit card company, filing a complaint with a consumer agency such as the Better Business Bureau, seeking legal counsel, etc.

Here is a sample letter that could be used for a first written complaint:

Attention: G. Smith, VP of Customer Relations

Dear G. Smith,

On August 19, 2002, I purchased a widget at Widget Store, 111 Main Street, Big City. On August 20, I returned the widget to your customer service department because it was missing Part #32 and could not be assembled. Your customer service representative ordered the missing part from your warehouse, telling me it would arrive within ten days.

Two months later, it has not arrived. I contacted your customer service department on August 30, September 15, October 1, and October 20th. On each of those occasions, your customer service representative assured me that the missing part is en route from your warehouse.

Today, I asked that my money be refunded since I am unable to use the widget without the missing part. Your customer service representative told me that it is not store policy to refund my money because I opened the package and partially assembled the widget.

I am writing you to request that my money be refunded in full. I cannot use the widget without the part that is missing.

I can be reached at the address given above, or by telephone at (your number).

Yours truly,
Dissatisfied Customer

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Danzi 25.07.2008. 00:02

To whom should I address a complaint letter, if I want to get results? How do I find the right person in a company to complain to?

Any tips on writing an effective complaint letter and getting results?
The company in question is a credit card company.

Won't say more than that because telling the world (or not) about how they lied will be up to whether the company rights its wrongs in response to my letter.


Admin 25.07.2008. 00:02

It depends what is your complaint if your complaining about a burger at MC Donald then the manger if your complaining about a drug at a pharmaceutical company then the FDA or the CEO


Nikhil 29.09.2012. 11:53

How do you write an Effective Business letter? Resources and samples for writing an effective business letter.


Admin 29.09.2012. 11:53

Business Letter is a type of formal letter exchanged within business organizations for communication regarding their customers, clients or any other official matter.
These letters are written with different forms as the subjects of the letters may vary. For instance: Business Letters are written to forward some news, to give order to its suppliers, to apologize or to request or any other reason.

Key points for business letters:

?Business letters are never written in a paragraph. Block style is the best style to write in the letter.
?Even if the letter is a complaint letter, it must not begin with a negative word.
?The letter must be written in a correct format starting with the receiver?s address followed by date and addressing the person whom you want to go through the letter.
?The Body of the letter must begin with the ref. no. or source adding to the reason of writing the letter.
?The message in the letter should be very precise and clear.
?After thanking the receiver close the letter with a salutation with your name and signature below it.


Kaytee 21.08.2009. 02:48

How should I start off a Formal Complaint to HR about hostile work environment and wrongful termination? I can't find Concord Pet Supplies corporate office anywhere, but I have the number. I want to write a letter of complaint and send it to the corporate office, but I'm not sure how to start it off. Do I just come right out with the complaint? Or should I give examples and dates?


Admin 21.08.2009. 02:48

Yes an effective letter should start with an introduction to the situation, followed by specific examples of the conduct you are reporting. I suggest you keep personal opinion to the minimum, and let the facts speak for themselves.


trishferrel 13.05.2011. 02:06

I need to write a letter of complaint to my corporate office? I need to write a letter to my company's corporate office in complaint of my general manager. There is a serious lack of professionalism from him/her. Threats, intimidation and bullying is not an effective way of managing employees. Please help.


Admin 13.05.2011. 02:06

What help do you need? Be aware that the first reaction will be to blame you if they have no other complaints. If other employees are complaining, you need to prepare a petition style letter outlining the concerns. Have everyone sign it and send it via registered mail to the personal and confidential attention of the human resources person at head office.


Momi 22.10.2010. 11:18

How to write an effective Complaint Letter to your Head office ? Complaining about your manger`s non professional behaviour ?


Admin 22.10.2010. 11:18

I think that if you can address the person in Head Office by name, that is a much better start. It shows that you are serious and you know who you are dealing with. It is much harder to dismiss something when it is addressed directly to you.

Next, stick to the facts. Give as much detail as possible - dates/times etc.Don't be tempted to let your personal feelings show.

Don't be threatening - at least not at this stage. Make it clear that you are waiting for a response.

Hope this helps. Good luck in getting this resolved!


joe 09.05.2009. 14:12

How do you make a complaint against an employee as a customer? I am very unhappy with the customer service I received from some CSR at some medical lab in regards to billing problem.

What is the most effective way to complain against this employee. Is it best to call the company or write a letter. The employee only gave her given name, and did not reveal her surname.

Also, if I write a letter or email the company, can this backfire?
What I meant by "backfire" is if the letter (something in writing) can be considered as a defamation against the employee.


Admin 09.05.2009. 14:12

The most acceptable way to report dismay or discomfort is to send a letter to the manger/supervisor by US Mail.
By giving information as to day, time, location, employee should be identifiable to management.
Be as objective as possible. That is, give facts not feelings.
I don't know what you mean by "backfire". If you are honest and objective there should be no repercussions.


Aaron 17.12.2010. 02:52

How should I write an adjustment letter? For my business writing class I need to write a letter of response to a complaint made by another company. In the description of the assignment my professor wrote that a faulty product was sent because of a clerical error made by a secretary. Should I mention in the adjustment letter that the problem was caused by this? I'm not sure if telling them the source of the problem is effective, or is it would just sound like I was laying the blame on an employee instead of the company itself.


Admin 17.12.2010. 02:52

Yes you are correct. You do not put the blame on an individual.

You just state that a faulty product was sent in error.


Adam 24.12.2007. 17:53

What are the most effective techniques for complaining? When a business gives you exceptionally poor service or a defective product, how do you get them to fix their mistakes and compensate you for consequent damages?

Complaining politely and explaining your difficulties often doesn't get you much in today's economy. Businesses just don't care. Getting hostile (but not threatening) seems to be unpleasant and only marginally more effective.

What are your thoughts on the best ways of negotiating a fair outcome when you are a relatively weak consumer pitted against a relatively powerful big business?


Admin 24.12.2007. 17:53

Many a time our own judgements about people whom we do not know leads us to actions that lead to our sufferrings.
We must know whether the product we have bought comes from a really big business firm. It is not generally known that the top management are very sensitive to consumers feeling that they have been treated badly by the firm's sales teams at the lowest levels with whom we get in touch. At the same time the small sales guy is under pressure to sale as much as possible to earn his incentives and promotion. He would naturally give less time to attending to consumers complaints. Even if there are customer services departments, these guys get bored dealing with consumer complaints day in and day out. Often they are required to follow certain proceedures that takes time and they do not have the power to satisfy you on the spot.
So your actions should be carefully planned and adjusted to suit the varying circumstances. I would suggest the following strategy.
1. When you buy a product, please take care to know whether the product comes from a really big business firm with strong brand image. Also, note down where to complain in case the product gives trouble later: especially enquire about customer services dept.
2. Please keep in mind that you better create records each time you make complaint and interact over phone with the firm' personnel and take photographs of the defective product or damage or accidents.
3. If you do not get the service ( repair/ replacement) to your satisfaction within reasonable time, just write a polite short letter to the Chairman / CEO) of the company telling him about how you are suffering by believing in the brand image of the company and request him for special help to get satisfaction. These top guys are generally very upset even if a single customer thinks bad about the compnay. Actually, they appreciate complaint letters written direstly to them so that they can take control actions against their employees at the small levels. Do not let the local sales/ service personnel of the company about your intention to or actually writing the letter to the CEO or Chairman of the firm.
4. If you fail to get redressal within a reasonable time, write to him again and then follow up with letters to the editor of local press (daily/ weekly newspaper/ magagine).
5. Complain to consumer protection associations/ bodies/ NGOs seeking help providing them with copies of the records.
6. When every thing fails, verify with friends that you are resonable in your demand for compensation. Then, just file a suit against the business firm.
7. If you have bought a good that has been imported, you may have difficulty because most likely it has come from a third rate manufacturer abroad and you have brought it from a local sales agent or trader. Here you are likely to face greater problems.
8. There is no point in quarelling with or antigonizing the sales/ service guys you meet locally for your complaint redressal. Rather be polite and yet fiorm with them. They want to hear very good words about their ciompany. Praise their company for such good imsge and that getting spoiled in your case.
9. For products of small but non-local firms, the hassels may be more. Espwecially for low priced products from local retailers or small shops in malls. Better is to avoid buying from them just because of slightly lower prices.


toohotglass 02.10.2007. 19:30

What is the most effective resource to complain about my college? I am getting a less than adequate education from my college, and I would like to know if there is some sort of group that regulates in any way. Someone or somewhere that wants to hear my complaint.


Admin 02.10.2007. 19:30


you have to start with, how and why you feel this way. Document occurences or things you have noticed about your college. Like in Law enforcement, follow your chain of command, in this instance that would include key represenatives from the college, ie. dept heads, etc.

next I would write a letter to the US Dept. of Education and CHEA (council for higher education accreditation)

CHEA are the ones that accredit colleges based on their academic standards and procedures, they have some power because accreditation is important to a college.

Next if no action is taken on your behalf or no coorespondance has occured between you and someone else, I would next go to your state represenative if need be.


keensnipe 30.12.2007. 14:45

What is the proper way to write a letter to a warden of a prison? my father is old and in poor health. he has been in prison since 2000. recently he was moved to a cell with a younger black man that threatens his life every day and night. my father has got to where he is scared for his life. he says there is a chance I could write the warden to have him moved to a medical area or at least away from this hostile inmate. I just want the proper way to address the warden and the most effective way to get my father help


Admin 30.12.2007. 14:45

I have to disagree with the above. Corrections has a legal obligation to protect all inmates while they are incarcerated. In this case, I would call the prison and ask for the Administrative Assistant ( Warden's Aide). Explain the situation. Truthfully, this is a common complaint when inmates just dont get along with each other and they constantly use this just to get moved. One thing your father can request is PC (Protective Custody). When any inmate claims he is being threatened or harrassed, they request a protective custody, which is being celled alone (usually in the Segregation Unit). But regardless of the outcome, the prison involved will at least look into the situation to determine liability and take appropriate actions. Again,,,,do not wait for letter,,,call. I hope this helps you


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