Writing a Complaint Letter

Many of us at some point have received bad customer service or bought a deficient product. Addressing the complaint in person with a manager is usually a good first step, but if that is not possible or effective, you may have considered writing a complaint letter. The following are some tips on how to write a complaint letter that will be taken seriously:

  • Explain the problem clearly: Let them know when and where the problem occurred, who you dealt with, and what exactly happened. Do your best to avoid embellishing – if someone was with you, ask him or her to look over the letter to verify the facts. Include a copy of any supporting documents, such as a receipt or contract.
  • Keep it short and focused: The longer the letter is, the less inclined whoever is on the receiving end will be to read it. Leave out information that is not directly relevant to the problem – they don’t need to know what you ate for breakfast or what you wore to the store. In most circumstances, the letter should be no longer than a page.
  • Be polite: If you curse or rant, the company may feel that you are the one that caused the problem or that they will not be able to satisfy you. Remember, generally, the person who you are writing to is not the one who caused the problem.
  • Ask for a specific solution: Make it easy for the company to rectify the issue by letting them know what will make you happy. Be sure that the request is reasonable and related to what your actual loss is. For example, if the delivery person damaged your wall when bringing in your new sofa, it is perfectly fine to ask for the company to pay for the cost to repair it, but asking for $10,000 is probably going overboard.
  • Provide contact information and set a deadline: Let them know the best way to reach you, and ask them to respond by a certain date. (Give them at least two weeks unless the circumstances require an earlier response.)

To figure out where the letter should be sent, check the company’s website. Many companies have a customer service office. If not, you can send it to the CEO (although he or she may not personally read it). You may also have the option of submitting a complaint online. If your first appeal does not net a response, see if there is anyone else you can target or another method you can try. Many large companies respond to consumers who complain via social media sites, such as Twitter.

By writing a complaint letter the company won’t complain about, you are more likely to get what you want.
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