Tutorial for “Complain About Laws, Policies, or Inefficiencies”

Tips

Clear and concise letters are an effective way of making your concerns known to politicians and bureaucrats. Your letter will most likely be answered if you discuss specific concerns as opposed to political issues. Control the tone of your letter carefully.

Steps

1. Briefly summarize the essence of your complaint.

Sentences

  • I am thoroughly dissatisfied with the current move to sell off Federal lands in the West to private speculators.
  • I am having a hard time understanding what is so difficult about filling in the pot holes on our street.
  • I am very concerned about your lack of support for AIDS research.
  • I would like to register a complaint against John Doe, a city building inspector, who apparently follows his own version of the Uniform Building Code.
  • Your speech last Friday left me very disappointed in your attitude towards the homeless in our community.
  • I am upset that a good share of my family farm will be considered "wetlands," making it illegal for me to grow crops on it.

Phrases

  • am deeply resentful about
  • am extremely disappointed in
  • am very concerned about
  • am having a hard time understanding
  • am most upset that
  • at an unfair disadvantage
  • can no longer ignore the
  • feel most dissatisfied about
  • find it disturbing, to say the least, that
  • find it necessary to
  • has come to my notice that
  • have become increasingly concerned
  • have difficulty in understanding
  • it seems unreasonable that
  • it is high time that
  • may I remind you that
  • was astonished to learn
  • was disturbed to learn of
  • wish to call your attention to
  • wish to protest vigorously about
  • would like to register a complaint

2. Provide all necessary details surrounding the case. Give reasons, arguments, cases and examples to explain the problems you see in the laws, policies, or practices.

Sentences

  • Federal lands are a public trust, and while it may have been expedient a hundred years ago to make acquisition of the lands cheap and easy, today the situation is radically different.
  • The pot holes on my street are unsightly, dangerous, and costly. I see car after car damaged by running into the holes or swerving dangerously to avoid them. In addition, the longer the holes are left unfilled the more damage is done to the pavement and base.
  • During the campaign last year you made it clear that you supported family values. I took you at your word and worked hard to get my friends and acquaintances to vote for you. Now, however, you seem to be singing a different tune.
  • Ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away or reduce the victims' suffering.
  • Doe inspected the framing on a house I am building at 123 Elm Street, and to my surprise he claimed there were "all kinds of problems." I have been building houses in this area for thirty years, and I know the requirements in the code. Inspector Doe seems to be making up his own rules as he goes along, which is becoming a form of harassment.

Phrases

  • an increasingly heavy burden
  • becoming the exception rather than the rule
  • economic and social dislocations
  • favoring our competitors
  • harassing hardworking taxpayers
  • ignoring constitutional rights
  • inefficient use of tax monies
  • innocent victims of
  • is just a matter of time before
  • is a public trust
  • making up new rules
  • need to face the facts
  • problem is not going to go away
  • rates climb ever higher
  • recognize this as an ill-advised attempt to
  • result of a misunderstanding of
  • result of giving low priority to
  • singing a different tune
  • situation has changed radically
  • situation is becoming untenable
  • this heavy-handed approach to
  • thought an agreement had been reached
  • took you at your word
  • unfortunate state of affairs
  • would be tragic to ignore
  • you made it clear that

3. Clearly outline what action you would like the reader to take and urge immediate action toward solving the problem.

Sentences

  • For the sake of justice and our quality of life, please learn more about our situation before you vote. Senator Doe would be a good person to talk to about the West.
  • Please send a crew out immediately before the situation (and the liability to the city) gets totally out of hand.
  • Please think carefully about the difference between so-called "free speech" issues and the need to protect children from pornography on the Internet.
  • A copy of the violations Inspector Doe found is attached. I acknowledge responsibility for items 3 and 5, and I appreciate his thoroughness in identifying those areas. They have already been repaired. The other ten items, however, are pure fantasy. I would appreciate a second opinion, preferably from a more experienced inspector.
  • I will appreciate your looking into this matter and making the necessary corrections.

Phrases

  • become more informed on
  • before the situation gets out of hand
  • consider enacting an ordinance to
  • correct this inequity
  • eagerly await your response
  • expect to see a considerable improvement
  • feel that a change is warranted
  • is certainly worthy of investigation
  • looking into this matter
  • need to set standards for
  • need to act immediately
  • should be repealed
  • suggest that you support
  • take the matter in hand
  • think carefully about
  • this must be stopped
  • trust that you will address these
  • urge you to reconsider
  • urge you to vote against
  • would appreciate your

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