Write Complaint Letters That Get Results

Stacie Heaps
Professional Writer and Editor

1. Start your letter with something positive in order to soften the blow of your complaint and so that the company or entity will be more willing to work with you. For example, if writing to complain about a faulty product that you purchased, you might begin, ‘I have been a loyal customer of your store for many years.’ Mention some of the positive aspects of the company or organization, such as the overall quality of the products or services, the low prices, the excellent customer service, and so forth.

2. Open the next paragraph with a sentence that begins to allude to the problem. For instance, you might write, ‘It is understandable that companies that offer a wide variety of electronic products would occasionally come across a faulty piece of merchandise.’ Then, in the next sentence, state your complaint. (Again, if you intend to do more than just complain and want the problem to be solved, it is best to remain professional and courteous. Do not sound accusatory or demanding.) After clearly stating your complaint, indicate what you would like to have done to rectify the situation, if anything. You may want to mention, also, the actions you will take if your complaint is not answered or the problem is not solved.

3. In the last paragraph, mention that you would like to continue to use the company's products or services, or to continue to be a customer of the store, or a member of the organization, or a viewer of the TV station. Then, suggest why it is in the other party's best interest to grant your request: you might mention the importance of maintaining a good reputation or keeping you as a customer, or you might appeal to their sense of justice. In other words, give them a positive reason to want to resolve the concern. As you close your letter, express confidence that your complaint will be taken care of. Finally, thank the company or other entity for handling your complaint.

4. If you write your complaint letter well, the end result can be very rewarding.

Often a complaint letter is more effective than a simple phone call or e-mail message. Furthermore, in many cases, the formality of a complaint letter can add a seriousness to the situation that will bring results. When writing your complaint letter, identify a definite purpose and outcome that you want to achieve, and indicate those ideas clearly in your letter.

Remember the Purpose of Your Complaint Letter

  • Keep in mind what it is that you hope to accomplish with your letter, and stick to the point.
  • Clearly make your complaint to the person(s) involved.
  • State plainly and directly your reason(s) for making the complaint.
  • Indicate what the reader can or should do to address your complaint, and specify how long you are willing to wait to have your complaint resolved. (Be reasonable.)
  • Explain why your suggestion or request for retribution should be granted (if you made one).

Related Complaint-Letter Articles