Write a Complaint Letter to a Superior • Example Letters and Guides
Employers expect competent employees to resolve problems at the lowest appropriate levels. When a problem that adversely affects the organization is not being resolved, and you are not able to resolve it at your level, this letter may help. The tone of the letter should reflect more concern than complaint.
How to write this complaint letter:
- Be direct but respectful. State the problem clearly and briefly, without blaming anyone directly. Show how the company or institution is adversely affected. Using passive sentences that omit reference to those responsible may soften any accusing tone.
- Offer a solution to the problem, even though you may not have authority to enforce it. If you offer alternative solutions, indicate which solution you prefer. Explain why you prefer one solution over another.
- Ask for a response so your superior will understand that you genuinely want to effect a change.
Example Letter #1
Because I know you do a great deal to help the members of my section, I feel I can turn to you with a matter that has caused us much personal frustration and even more wasted time. For several weeks now, the Vice President's secretary has been sending people to do his copying on our machine. We want to cooperate, but sometimes they occupy the machine for two or three hours, making our own people wait. At this rate we are falling behind in our own work, and our production figures are suffering.
Would it be possible for the Company to buy another copy machine, either for our use, or for the vice president's projects? I suppose his secretary could send people to other offices, but it would simply mean transferring the problem to someone else. I think another machine would be the best solution for all concerned.
I know my staff would sincerely appreciate being able to use their time more efficiently. I look forward to your response so I can tell them what to expect.
Example Letter #2
I am writing in behalf of several employees who have expressed concern over the problems we have had in receiving our checks on the last day of the month. Of course all of us have financial obligations we must meet on a regular basis, so we count on getting paid on that day. The delays during the past months have caused a great deal of frustration, and I fear that employee morale is suffering. Some even fear that the company will not stay in business long.
It would be very helpful if someone could explain what has delayed check preparation, and otherwise allay the fears that many have. I wonder if, in addition, it might be possible to begin printing checks a few days earlier to allow for problems that may come up.
I assured my group that you would be responsive to their concerns. I'll let them know what to expect as soon as I hear from you. Thank you for your consideration.
Example Letter #3
I appreciate the policy that permits employees to eat at their workstations, but recently I have noticed other shifts leaving their leaky paper cups and used sandwich wrappers on our desks. Could you possibly help us by asking employees in each shift to clean up after themselves so the next shift doesn't have to do it? I think we would all feel better if everyone would be a little more considerate. We appreciate your efforts to help us do our work better. Thanks.
Example Letter #4
Thank you for hiring a receptionist to answer phones and handle occasional typing assignments; unfortunately, neither task is being done satisfactorily. Apparently, he is unaware of the full scope of his assignment. If you allow, I would be willing to train him and monitor his performance. If this is agreeable to you, please let me know and tell him what I'll be doing, so I don't offend him. Thank you.
Write Your Letter Step-by-Step
1 Be direct but respectful. State the problem clearly and briefly, without blaming anyone directly. Show how the company or institution is adversely affected. Using passive sentences that omit reference to those responsible may soften any accusing tone.
Sentences for Step 1
- We appreciate your openness in listening to our concerns. We don't want to trouble you with trivial issues. But, we feel you should know about problems that the new vendor is causing, which could create a serious embarrassment for the company.
- The policy of allowing employees limited use of company cars for personal business is being abused and is costing the company far more than anticipated.
- Our practice of buying from out-of-state wholesalers is bringing criticism from our local Chamber of Commerce.
- For the past three months, payroll checks have not been deposited in individual bank accounts until two days after the first of the month. This delay has caused considerable concern among employees who expect to have their salaries available to meet obligations on a dependable basis.
- I have just learned that the ceiling in the older part of Building A contains asbestos and may pose a health risk to our employees.
- We have made every effort to work in harmony with other offices, but the continual noncooperation that we have experienced with the adjoining personnel office requires that I bring this matter to your attention.
- Because our service personnel have not responded to Mr. Doe's concerns, he has concluded that we do not value his business.
Phrases for Step 1
- am grateful that you listen to
- am writing to you because it has become apparent that
- appreciate the fact that
- appreciate the opportunity to
- appreciate your openness
- are bringing it to your attention only because
- bringing criticism from
- by someone with your authority
- by someone in your position
- cannot meet obligations
- demands urgent attention
- don't want to trouble you with
- far more costly than
- feel you should be aware of
- feel you should know about
- has been brought to my attention
- has caused considerable concern
- have come to the conclusion that
- have been unable to solve
- have hesitated to write, but
- in listening to our concerns
- in the best interest of
- is adversely affecting
- is difficult at our level
- is costing the company
- may I call your attention to
- may pose a health risk
- merits your attention
- need to make you aware of a problem in
- needs to be resolved at the highest level
- needs to be resolved
- serious embarrassment for
- seriousness of this problem
- the problem has become so severe that
- warrants your attention
- wish to request
- would, perhaps, be surprised to learn
2 Offer a solution to the problem, even though you may not have authority to enforce it. If you offer alternative solutions, indicate which solution you prefer. Explain why you prefer one solution over another.
Sentences for Step 2
- I feel that we should terminate our contract with this company and work with a local wholesaler.
- In order to stay within our budget, we should either place a mileage limit on personal use of a company car or eliminate the practice altogether. I believe the limitation on mileage would work best, especially if the user were required to reimburse the company for additional miles driven.
- Since the EPA has made this such an issue, I suggest that we temporarily move the accounting office to the Main Street location until the problem is resolved. Having the accounting office double up with the personnel office would only cause more problems for everyone.
- We could either hire more personnel or ask the existing staff to work more overtime for the next three months. Although it may be a strain on some, I think working overtime would be a better interim solution because we would not find ourselves over staffed at the end of this project.
Phrases for Step 2
- as required by law
- as contractually required
- as soon as possible
- avoid costly legal procedures
- believe it was once suggested that
- careful attention to details
- conserve a great deal of energy by
- could hire more
- demonstrate the proper use of
- eliminate the practice altogether
- especially if the user were required to
- give serious consideration to
- have already implemented the policy in
- in order to stay
- inform employees that
- let the employees know that
- make major modifications to
- make the following recommendations
- may be the best solution
- may need to limit the use of
- recommend that we
- should boost company morale
- should incorporate a system of
- think it would be appropriate to
- to turn the situation around
- would lead to more
- would be a better interim solution
3 Ask for a response so your superior will understand that you genuinely want to effect a change.
Sentences for Step 3
- If I have your approval to move ahead on this proposal, please have John call Jane.
- If you agree with this proposal, please initial it, and I will begin resolving the issue immediately.
- I will wait for your call or memo to inform me of your decision.
- If you need more information before making a decision, I will be happy to give more details.
- I hope we can soon implement a change for the benefit of all concerned. We will have a staff meeting on Thursday. Would it be possible to have an answer by then?
- We are very eager to resolve this problem and hope you will be able to approve this action soon. We will wait for your call or memo.
Phrases for Step 3
- anything you could do to expedite
- appreciate your responsiveness
- as soon as possible
- hope we can implement
- hope to hear from you soon
- hope you will be able to
- hope that you will reconsider
- if you believe it will resolve
- if this has your approval
- if the proposition meets with your approval
- if you need more information
- if you agree
- inform me of
- let me know
- let us know what we can expect
- look forward to hearing from you
- may I hear from you soon
- very eager to resolve this problem
- what course of action you choose to
- will appreciate hearing from you
- will wait for your call
- will be happy to provide
- will be happy to work with
- will certainly appreciate
- would appreciate hearing from you
- would appreciate your intervention
- would appreciate your looking into