Complain About Overdue Work or Poor Workmanship • Example Letters, Guides and Samples


Use the particulars of the contract or agreement as you register your complaint. Stick to the details of the agreement, so the letter is not an attack on a particular person. If you feel you must pursue legal action, tell the reader in a direct, respectful way.

How to write this complaint letter:

  1. Before you address the problem, it is often a good idea to explain the reasons why you came to the particular individual or company for their services. State all the relevant facts concerning the case in question.
  2. Include copies of any documents such as receipts, invoices, contracts, or cancelled checks that will support your claim.
  3. Include a specific request regarding how you feel the reader should handle the problem and describe any action you intend to take.

Example Letter #1


We felt fortunate to get your roofing crew to shingle our new home last fall when our general contractor had legal problems. Your workers were prompt and fast; however, the heavy winds that we experienced last week ripped off several of the new shingles. When I personally inspected the damage, I found that your crew had done a very shoddy job of installing them. They had not removed the plastic covering from the backs of the shingles so the adhesive strip could take hold, and in many cases, they had only used one nail per shingle. It is little wonder that they finished the work so quickly.

According to the standard building agreement, materials and workmanship are guaranteed for one year, so I expect you to repair the roof properly before the next storm. Since a year will soon be up and fall weather will be upon us, would you please inform me by August 15 when you plan to have the work completed. I trust this is all the action I will have to take, but I am prepared to do whatever may be necessary to get satisfaction.

Example Letter #2


My brother, John Doe, recommended your company as one that would do a good job of building our exhibition booths, but we have seen virtually no progress on the project during recent weeks. Our conference is scheduled for March 3.

With our advance payment, you agreed to have the work completed one week prior to the opening (contract copy enclosed). I question whether you will be able to meet the terms of the contract, and am very concerned about being ready for the conference. Please call me, and follow up in writing, about how you intend to complete the work on time. If it appears that you will default on this contract, we will take immediate measures to protect ourselves.

Example Letter #3


Before I hired you to remodel my home, I asked for references from some of your past customers. All of them recommended you highly. Now I stand in the middle of a mess: Walls are torn out, bathroom fixtures are missing, doors need to be hung, and the list goes on. And, of course, we have seen neither you nor any of your employees for at least a week and a half. Enclosed is our contract stating explicitly that you were to finish my home by May 5, two weeks ago. If we do not hear from you by Friday, May 24, we will cancel the contract, hire a new contractor, and meet you in court.

Write Your Letter Step-by-Step

1 Before you address the problem, it is often a good idea to explain the reasons why you came to the particular individual or company for their services. State all the relevant facts concerning the case in question.

Sample Sentences for Step 1
  • Because my brother recommended your firm so highly, I contracted with you to build my new home. I am writing because, according to the contract we signed, both the foundation and frame were to have been finished by July 15 of this year. It is now July 20, and only the foundation has been poured. In addition, I inspected the foundation last night and found that the living room space is two feet shorter and one foot wider than the plans call for.
  • You have a fine reputation for installing doors of all kinds, so I trust you will correct the problem we have with the one that you installed in our house last week. The door is not working properly. It rubs against the frame and sticks shut, so my children have a hard time opening it.
  • We selected your printing firm for the job because our friends recommended you so highly. Unfortunately, when we received our flyers, the design was not the one we had approved.
  • On May 9, I paid an $87.00 deposit to have my kitchen floor redone. According to our agreement, you were to complete the job by August 1, but the work has not yet begun. Even more frustrating, no one has responded to my phone messages. Please respond to this letter within ten days, or I will initiate legal action in small claims court.
  • I am writing to protest the penalty which has been leveled against our company. We were penalized $800 for not completing the roof of the Doe building on Second Street by May 23. We were not able to complete the roof on time because the company you subcontracted with to do the framing was late in finishing the upper floor of the building.
  • Because your company has such a positive national reputation for designing and installing the best security systems, we decided to purchase our system from you. The system appears to be malfunctioning, however. Twice in the last three weeks our night watchman has caught an intruder in our building. Fortunately, no serious damage has resulted.
  • According to the phone conversation I had with you on March 17, you were to have completed the mural on the east wall of the entry way within two months of that date.
Sample Phrases for Step 1
  • a potentially hazardous situation
  • according to the contract
  • according to our agreement
  • according to our phone conversation of
  • am sorry to report that
  • appears to be malfunctioning
  • appears you have not given us
  • approved design has not been followed
  • came highly-recommended
  • could result in extensive damage to
  • does not match our specifications
  • expect the same quality service
  • had recommended you highly
  • have an excellent reputation for
  • have been disappointed by
  • is not up to code
  • is not working properly
  • no serious damage has yet resulted from
  • recognize your reputation for
  • should have been finished by
  • specifically requested that you
  • was a major factor in our selecting you to
  • were to complete the job by
  • were supposed to complete the job by
  • will need to correct the
  • wish to protest the penalty which has been
  • work has not yet begun
  • workmanship was disappointing

2 Include copies of any documents such as receipts, invoices, contracts, or cancelled checks that will support your claim.

Sample Sentences for Step 2
  • For your convenience I have enclosed a copy of our agreement regarding the work that was to be done.
  • I have included a photocopy of the contract, which clearly states that you will assume responsibility for cleaning up the construction site upon completion of the house.
  • I am sending copies of the original work order and the receipt for payment.
  • Receipt # 333 and the photocopy of canceled check # 3530 clearly show that we paid in full for the job.
  • For your convenience, I have included a photocopy of the contract.
Sample Phrases for Step 2
  • a certified statement of
  • am sending copies of
  • as proof of payment
  • as you can see
  • clearly demonstrates that
  • clearly outlines the
  • clearly states that
  • copy of our agreement
  • copy of my work order
  • copy of my estimate
  • estimates for damages incurred
  • for your convenience
  • have enclosed a copy of
  • have included a photocopy of
  • in case you have lost your
  • paid for the additional
  • states that you will
  • the enclosed copies of
  • the original work order
  • will assume responsibility for

3 Include a specific request regarding how you feel the reader should handle the problem and describe any action you intend to take.

Sample Sentences for Step 3
  • Before progressing further, the foundation must be rebuilt to the original specifications.
  • We cannot accept the flyers as they are. It is imperative that they be printed with the designated colors. If you can reprint them by Friday at 6:00 p.m., we will pick them up then. If you cannot have them ready by that time, we will have to cancel the order. Please inform me by Wednesday.
  • If you do not rescind the penalties you leveled against my crew and pay us the money you owe us, I will have to put a lien on the house.
  • We request that you send a technician to correct the problem before something more serious happens.
  • Please acknowledge this correspondence and advise me as soon as possible as to when you intend to correct the problem.
  • If you do not complete the painting we commissioned by the contract date, we will have to take appropriate legal action through small claims court.
  • If we do not hear from you within one week, we will seek appropriate legal assistance.
Sample Phrases for Step 3
  • are sending a copy of this letter to
  • arrange to have someone inspect
  • as soon as possible
  • as the contract states
  • before serious damage is done
  • before further work is done
  • by the contract date
  • cannot accept delivery of
  • correct this mistake
  • correct the problem as soon as possible
  • expect a full refund of
  • have an obligation to
  • if you are able to
  • if you do not complete
  • is not unreasonable to ask
  • is your responsibility to
  • is imperative that
  • job must be completed by
  • kindly acknowledge receipt of
  • reimburse my losses
  • repair the damage done to
  • resolve this right away
  • send a technician to
  • to meet the original specifications
  • under the circumstances
  • until further notice
  • when can I count on you to
  • will be obliged to pursue legal remedies
  • will have to cancel the order
  • will seek legal assistance
  • will seek another contractor
  • will have to withhold payment
  • would appreciate a prompt